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Canning Beans

I have been learning to pressure can – I mentioned that before.  I have suggested to friends and family that beans are the way to learn because they are cheap.  I, of course, never listen to anyone and started with other things.

Project #4 – canned beans.  I had a vision, especially after not finding a good tutorial on canning beans.  I would take pictures.  I would document the process.  Guess what – I forgot to take pictures.  I thought I’d get around to taking pictures of the final product – nope.  It’s not that interesting – just beans in a glass jar but wouldn’t it have been nice to have evidence that I have spent the last few nights up past my bedtime learning how just so I could share it with you (and you can’t prove I didn’t do it all for you).

I like beans.  I want to like canned beans but they are never just beans.  Canned beans are also so much more than dried beans.  The problem with dried beans is you have to know you want to cook with them 24 hours in advance (or at least I do).  That means, we don’t eat beans.

We have some beans leftover from previous purchases but when we did our February mass purchase, I bought 5 pounds white beans and 5 pounds black beans.  The plan – can beans.

So I dump a bunch of white beans in a container (not the whole 5 pounds but I did think about it) and set them to soak.  I had no idea what I was doing.  When I finally had time, I pulled out all my instructions.  Now I know that many people can beans uncooked.  Some even forego the soaking.  Do you think I could find those instructions anywhere?

So, here’s what I knew – beans cook at 10 pounds pressure (at sea level so 15 pounds for my elevation) for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts, and that beans expand.

I started measuring my white beans.  They had soaked for 24 hours (with 1 water change at 12 hours, apx).  My initial plan was to put 2 cups of beans per jar but that left me with just over a cup remaining.  I opted to split that cup making the amount about 2 1/4 cups of soaked beans.  I covered them with boiling water.

Since the canner holds 7 quarts and I had just 5, I thought I’d experiment with the black beans we had leftover from before we purchased the new beans.  There was just over 2 cups of the dried beans so I split them between 2 quart jars and covered them with boiling water.

I pressure canned those at 15 for 90 minutes.  Now here is something that I forget that needs to be said – while the processing time is 90 minutes, it takes longer (much longer) than that to do a batch.  It can take 15-20 minutes (or so) to get the pot up to the required 15 pounds of pressure.  Then, once the 90 minutes is up, the canner must cool and release all its pressure.  This can take another 30 minutes.  So the time a quart jar of beans sits in the canner is closer to 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours).  This is important because I ended up staying up until midnight waiting to finish my beans.  I had started the process at 8 thinking I could be finished by 10.  Some of that time was clean up and other things that had nothing to do with the canning.

It’s not impossible to get a batch in after dinner and before bed.  Last night, we canned 7 quarts of pinto beans (pre-soaked) and had it finished by 9:30.  Which goes to show that with some careful planning, you can work fulltime and do all your canning.  I should say that I don’t plan all that well and ended up with a second batch of pinto beans that my loving husband stayed up to finish so I could go to bed.

So now that I have experimented, here’s what I have learned: 1 cup dried beans equals a quart of cooked beans.  Soaking/no soaking seem to have the same level of success.  You must cover your beans with boiling water and tighten your rims as tight as possible.  For those over 1000 feet use 15 pounds pressure in a weighted pressure canner.  Cook for 90 minutes for quarts, 75 for pints.

We haven’t had a chance to eat the beans but they look good.  The beans are plump and not mushy.  Since we didn’t add any flavoring agents, they will be bland – perfect for adding to whatever we want.

I hope this post will inspire you to try canning your own beans.