Thursday, November 15, 2012

Apocalyptic Dog Food

So Six had mentioned doing some canning recently and I told him to remember the pups when doing so. He asked for a recap of the process so here it is.

We went to our local LDS Cannery (list of locales here - find them, appreciate them) and acquired about 10 boxes of empty #10 cans and lids for same. Remember that you have to buy cans, lids, and boxes so price them accordingly to avoid surprises. Bring cash or a checkbook in case yours doesn't take plastic. (That form should be fairly accurate for price of product but changes in the local market may find it slightly different - no matter, they are almost ALWAYS cheaper than other vendors.)

I didn't know what the ratio of dog food to can would be so I just went with this up front goal:
1 can per dog per week for 1 year's rations
That means 104 cans or about 17.5 boxes of cans - 6 cans per box.
I acquired (2) 42 lb bags of dog food. For this emergency stock I just went with Purina. More on that in a moment.

The 2 bags filled just under 5 boxes worth - one can shy of it, actually. I think that in the near future I will can the quality food we feed daily and include one of those per box as a kind of supplement to that lesser quality food. There is also space in the box between the cans to add in vacuum sealed sacks of whatever other supplement you might like to have. Do not forget to add in a can opener to every other box! I get these in bulk for just that purpose - tape one to a can in the box to ensure it stays put.

If you are canning any powdery stuff like flour or dry milk, it really helps to have the empty cans set  on a tray to catch the overflow - because you will overfill and that stuff gets everywhere.

OK! So what happens? Here's a pictorial with the secret squirrel pal and Sarge conveniently avoided.
Here you can see the tin cans - the edges are sharp as knives so have a care when unboxing and working with them. Having a kitchen island is handy for this - we have an old counter that we add to the top of ours to clamp the canning machine onto, and that provides a lot of space to work with.

It helps to have a person to fill cans, a person to seal them, and a person to label and box them. That person also keeps the supply of empty cans moving in. You can see the oxygen absorbers in the pic - keep them sealed up as best you can during the process. (Vacuum seal them when you are all done and have leftovers.) When you fill a can with whatever product, give it a good smack on the counter to settle the product and top it off - the less room at the top the better.

Here you can see them all filled up (I would have added a bit more but I was Labeling Buddy and my opinions were resoundingly mocked or ignored. Only when you've a good number of cans filled and ready do you open your O2 packets - add one to the top, add your lid and pass it to your Sealer Buddy and close up that O2 packet bag till you are ready with your next series of cans. (If you have a SEAL buddy, you'll have to bring a ball to play with when they aren't busy canning. Snicker...)

The machine is bloody heavy. You need a secure top to hold it and some C clamps to keep it in place - hence, the secondary table top to protect the island countertop. Here is the machine in question with an unsealed can on it - use your first can to ensure it is properly adjusted. There are directions on the net but when you lever up the base that holds the can, it should contact that spinning upper wheel soundly and firmly. Too tight, though, and you might not get it off again when sealed. (You have to very gently insert a shim or screwdriver to release that pressure...)

 There is a small flat wheel that you cannot see on the other side of the can - it is the "seamer" as this really is a can seaming machine. You lever the can upward to contact that spinning wheel which sets the whole can to spinning at a moderate speed. Now, you can see that small black button in that pic up there - you have to hold that in to start the spinning so most people will tape it down or find a way to clamp it to keep the upper wheel spinning continuously.

There is a lever that you press to the rear to apply that small wheel to the lip of the can for a few complete rotations and then pull the level forward for a few rotations to get the finished seam - you must do it both ways as it does a complete seam that way. And you have to do it in that order to get the proper seal. (Dear me, I hope I have that right...the canning machine will tell you!)

Behold! A proper seam - you cannot tell any difference from a major retailer's can when done right. If it has any kind of rippled or jagged seam, it likely did not seal well. Just ensure you open that can for use in short order - it isn't useless, just not completely airtight. And you WILL get one or two that way until you get the hang of it. You have to be firm but not aggressive in the process.

LABEL!! I cannot stress enough the need to label your cans when they come off the machine. This is very important when doing different things in one canning - like sugar, flour, oats...your LDS folks will have premade labels for those kinds of products. I have custom made labels for the other stuff we can but I still like a notation on the top lid for easy view when you open the box.

Now - one tip. If you are canning sugar, never ever add the oxygen absorber unless you'd like to have a giant sugar lick. Same goes for any fruit drink mix.

I guess that's about it! We did this before and opened a can of quality food that was a year old - it whooshed open so we knew it'd held out the air and it smelled as fresh as new. The dogs ate it fine and had no issues. With the lesser quality food I'd probably not push it longer than 6 months but I wanted to get an emergency store of food ASAP. We can always add more and/or better food later...

The nice thing about borrowing the canner is that you can put whatever you want in a tin can - ifyouknowwhatImeanandIthinkyoudo...

Even if your local LDS cannery won't loan them away from the cannery, do not let that stop you! Can on-site! They are very nice about it and happy to help if you will approach them with an open and friendly demeanor. They don't want to recruit - they want everyone PREPARED. But please respect their facility and hard work - know that they do the job for free and often have to PAY/tithe for the "blessing" to do so! When one has skin in the game, one tends to be more involved in its success. Too, some people staffing the locations are NOT the sharpest prepper's! Don't get mad if they don't know how to put up lima beans. Just appreciate the one-stop-shopping option and the fact that you don't have to pay $3k for the machine.

As an added note - the canning facility and bulk purchase location often adjoins the Bishops Pantry which is a kind of welfare store for church members so a kind smile to those "shopping" there is nice. They're hurting and getting a month's worth of food to survive on...

Now, get canning!!


Six said...

Thank you thank you thank you Laura. This is priceless information and I am grateful. Lu and I are going down to buy some bulk dog food and get to canning. Angus will be soooo happy!

I'm going to post a link to this and then copy the info to my hard drive. Everyone needs to read and heed.

Bless you my friend!

God, Gals, Guns, Grub said...

Thanks for sharing this... we've stocked up in our preps for the dogs, but hadn't thought of canning dog food...

Dann in Ohio

LauraB said...

You're both quite welcome! I know it can seem overwhelming to afix and use the machine so I hoped this took away some of the mystery - as well as driving home the need to store plenty of food for the dogs!!

drjim said...

Hi, Laura!

Came over here from Brigid's place. We have a solid 6 moth supply of food and water for ourselves, but we didn't have a *clue* on what to do for our dogs.

THANK YOU for posting this!

LauraB said...

I am glad this helps you consider some options for the furry certainly is a comfort to know one has the ability to feed ourselves as well as our pups.

Commander_Zero said...

Great post. I'm giving you some link love.

LauraB said...

Hey, Zed! So glad I could help...and thanks for the linky love!!

Anonymous said...

I buy meat, frozen veggies and brown rice on sale. Add flax seed, and salt. Pressure can it in quart jars. It is great for the dogs and will keep if stored properly many years! BTW, can also be eaten by humans of necessary.

dog food chicago il said...

I give all types of foods like canned food, raw food, diet, etc. to my pets. They are rising totally. I also avoid giving them some human ingredients which are harmful for their health.

Anonymous said...

I’m definitely coming again to see these articles and blogs.

Anonymous said...

where can i get that canning machine

Anonymous said...

Can sealer machines are vert expensive in $2000 range. Check for example. The manual ones are $1200-ish. The LDS church has store your own locations with canners in select locations. See site for infi.