Being prepared for hard times is a vital part of homesteading.

One way to store food for later use is to can it, but many of us are now turning to an alternative method: food drying.

Food drying has been used for centuries to preserve food, offering several advantages over traditional canning. This article will discuss why drying food is better than canning it.

It Is Easy

The basic principle of drying food is simple: remove moisture from food to make it last longer.

This process, known as dehydration, removes the water content of food to make it less hospitable for bacterial growth. Without moisture, bacteria cannot survive. Thus dehydrated food can last longer than canned food.

Drying food also makes it easier to store, as it takes up less space than canned food. In addition, dehydrated food is light and portable, making it an excellent option for preppers and homesteaders who are often on the move.

dry foods instead of canning

Canning Isn’t All Bad, But…

Canning is a more labor-intensive process than food drying. It involves several steps to prepare the food for canning, including washing, blanching, and peeling.

In addition, the cans and lids must be sterilized, and special equipment is often needed to can food. The process also takes a lot of energy, as the cans must be boiled in hot water or pressure-cooked to seal the food.

Overall, canning food is an energy-intensive, time-consuming option requiring much work.

dry foods instead of canning

The Benefits Of Canning Food:

  • Canned food is shelf-stable and easy to store
  • Canning can help preserve the flavor and texture of food
  • Canned food is ready to eat, requiring no further preparation
  • Canning can help maintain the nutritional value of food

The Disadvantages Of Canning Food:

  • This is an energy-intensive process that requires a lot of work
  • It requires special equipment, including jars, lids, and a canner
  • Canning requires a lot of time and effort
  • It can be expensive, as it requires special tools and jars
  • Carrying canned food can be difficult, as it is heavy and bulky to carry and store

dry foods instead of canning

Why Drying Food Is Better Than Canning:

  • Drying food is a more straightforward process than canning
  • Dehydrated food takes up less space than canned food
  • Dehydrated food is light and portable, making it easy to carry
  • Dehydrated food has as long a shelf-life as canned food
  • Dried food maintains its flavor, texture, and nutritional value


Overall, food drying is a more straightforward and accessible option than canning. It requires less equipment and doesn’t take as much time or energy.

In addition, dehydrated foods take up less space than canned foods, and they are light and portable, making them easy to carry.

Related: 10 Fruits And Veggies To Dehydrate For Long-Time Storage

dry foods instead of canning

Never Enough Space?

Another advantage of drying food over canning is that it takes up less space.

The reason for this is that the moisture content of food, which can constitute a large percentage of its volume, is removed during the drying process, making dehydrated food lighter and more compact and easier to store and transport. Dried foods can also last longer than canned foods since bacteria cannot survive without moisture.

More Calories And Protein Per Weight Carried

Dehydrated food offers more calories and protein than canned food per unit of weight carried.

In addition, it can be efficiently rehydrated using water from nature, making it an excellent option. Dehydrated food can also be used in cooking, making it a versatile choice for storing food for hard times.

Very Long Shelf Life

Typically, dried meats can last up to two years, and dried vegetables can last up to one year, making them an excellent option for homesteaders looking to store food for long-term use.

dry foods instead of canning


Dried food should be stored in a cool, dry place like a closet or pantry for optimal shelf-life. It should also be protected from rodents and other pests wanting to eat it. Vacuum-sealing dried food in mylar bags can further extend its shelf life and preserve its nutritional value.

Additionally, oxygen absorbers can be used to remove any residual oxygen from the pack, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

All in all, proper storage is essential for ensuring that dried food lasts as long as possible.

dry foods instead of canning

The Basics

The primary method for drying food is to cut it into thin slices and then dry it. The most common forms of drying food involve drying it in the sun or the oven.

Sun-drying food is traditional, and some homesteaders still use it.

Oven-drying food is a more modern method, and it is often used by people who do not have access to direct sunlight.

Specialized food dehydrators can also speed up the drying process and ensure even drying.

Related: DIY Solar Dehydrator

dry foods instead of canning

Extra Protection

Vacuum sealing dried food in mylar bags is a great way to extend its shelf-life and protect its nutritional value. To do this, fill the bag with the dried food and seal it with a vacuum sealer. Once closed, the bag should be stored in a cool, dry place to ensure the food lasts as long as possible.

Oxygen absorbers can also be added to the bag to remove any residual oxygen and further extend the shelf-life of the food.

dry foods instead of canning

Add Some Flavor

Smoking is another way to dry food and extend its shelf-life. For example, you can smoke dried meats and vegetables to add flavor, which further helps preserve the food.

In addition, smoke-dried foods have a unique flavor ensuring some taste variety in your diet.

Better, More Straightforward, Faster

Drying and canning are excellent methods for storing food during hard times. Canning is a tried and true method, and it can help preserve the flavor and texture of food.

However, drying food is more straightforward and less labor-intensive, offering several advantages over canning.

In the long run, after an SHTF incident, dried food will be the best option, as canning equipment will be hard to come by. For these reasons, many people should learn food drying as an effective way to keep food for hard times.

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