Blast From the Past: Canning Beans

A short time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a little red headed blogger got in WAY over her head with a self hosted blog and one day–POOF–it refused to publish or save any more posts.  Even her techno savvy friends and family members (hi, Dad!) couldn’t save her beloved blog.  Sadly, the girl (who loves to write, but is only minimally techno savvy, by the way) restarted her blog on WordPress (but not the self hosted kind).  But, hating to lose her previous 800+ posts that wouldn’t be seen, she came up with a brilliant idea (!) to institute a feature to bring back some of her older posts that she wanted to keep or thought were good.  Hence the new feature:  Blast From The Past!

So, if you have followed my blog in that other, sadder blogosphere, you have probably already seen this one.  But, you might like it even more now…  Hey, you never know!

So, from January 23rd, 2013….

Another Hatchett Job blog, creative commons attribution, dried beans, mixed beans, legumes, healthy food, frugal life

Hubby and I love beans.  Pinto beans, black beans, garbanzo beans, we will eat them all.  The boys don’t always share our legume love, but younger one does enjoy a nice, warm pot of 15 bean soup from time to time.  I guess he likes all of his beans at once!

Cooking beans can take quite a while, but when I have a chance, I like to can them up in quart or pint jars to use later.  It’s easily as convenient as opening a can of beans that has been purchased at the store, but cheaper and I like to know exactly what is in them.  In my case, they contain only beans, salt, water and sometimes a bit of cooked ham or bacon to add flavor.  That’s all.

Pressure canning dried beans is really simple as long as you always, always, always pay attention to the canner and follow the established safety standards.  You just wouldn’t want to take any shortcuts with your family’s health!  So, get a recent copy (in the last 3-5 years or so) of a reputable canning guide (the Ball Blue Book is a good choice) so that you will know the proper times and pressures for safe pressure canning.  And, always double check your information before you begin!

I was scared silly at the thought of blowing up a pressure canner until I did some research and realized that not only was it something I could do, but it opened up loads of options for food preservation for my family.  But, make no mistake, you cannot can low-acid foods with a water bath canner.  It’s not safe and could make your family very ill.  Pressure canning is the only way to go here.

The first time I canned dried beans, I cleaned and picked through them well and then brought them to a boil in a large pot with plenty of water.  I let them boil for exactly one hour to have them swell and absorb water but not be completely cooked.  I ladeled them into clean jars, topped off (with 1 inch head space) with cooking water, wiped the rims on the jars, added lids and processed according to the directions that came with my canner.  It seemed simple enough at the time.

We enjoyed those beans a great deal.  We made homemade bean dips, ate beans and cornbread, had veggie nights, and even made homemade authentic refried beans.  Yum!

But, could there possibly be an even easier way?  Turns out, the answer is YES!Another Hatchett Job blog, canned beans, canning, black beans, frugal life, canning jars, creative commons attribution

This time, I will pick over and clean the beans well and then measure out 1/2 cup of the uncooked beans for pint jars and 1 cup of beans for the quart jars.  I will add 1 tsp salt to each quart and half that amount to the pints (any spices are fine and they don’t affect your processing times or pressures).  After topping off with freshly boiled water, leaving 1 inch of headspace, I will process them.

I live at just about 800 feet in elevation, so I can use the basic canning rules.  If you live at a higher elevation, you must adjust your times and/or pressures accordingly.  You can use Google to find that information.  I typed in “elevation” and my city and state.  I checked a couple of sites for accuracy and am now quite confident that I know.  If you need to make an adjustment, any good canning book will have a simple chart to use.  It’s just another one of those good reasons to have one for reference.

My quarts have to process at 10 lbs. pressure for 90 minutes.  My pints use the same pressure, but only 75 minutes.  If, by chance, you are processing a canner load that contains both pints and quarts, use the longer times needed for the quart jars.  Better safe than sorry!

By following these rules, I am assured that my foods will preserve and maintain their nutrition and quality for several years.  Healthy foods at the best possible prices is worth a bit of kitchen time to me!

As for loading and operating the canner, please refer to the instructions given in your canner instruction manual, canning reference books, or by a noted author.  I am rather fond of articles and books written by Jackie Clay, columnist for Backwoods Home Magazine, among other publications.  I trust her years of experience and like that she insists on following the rules carefully.

Have you ever done any canning?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett


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