Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard

The biggest problem with growing dried beans is cooking them. Before I grew my own dried beans I always had cans on hand to make things. I could whip up my winter soups so quickly that way. Now it takes planning. The best planning is the night before to soak them. But you can cheat and get them to boiling then take them off the stove to let them sit for an hour and it works about as well. The beans from my garden take about an hour to cook until they are soft. They are so quick because they are so fresh. But still I need a full two hours at the least of planning to have fully cooked beans. Some days that is fine. But some I need a quicker bean or I lose out on eating them.

I'd been drooling over a pressure canner for years. I finally broke down and bought it for myself for Christmas. As my husband says, we have a weird way of getting gifts. We tell our spouse what we want for the holidays then we go out and buy it. Hey it is quick turn around and you get to pick what you want. No one in our family has been big on surprises. Since the kids have grown we end up with very very few gifts under the tree. But I digress.

With a pressure canner I could can some of my beans. The issue I ran into is that I don't have a lot of any one type of bean. I have lots of little containers of beans. So I had four pots of beans cooking on the stove to try to get enough parboiled beans to fill up the pressure canner.

My canner is an All American. It can can 18 pints at a time which for me is an awful lot of pints. I managed to fill up 12 of them.

8 of them were successful; 3 didn't seal; and 1 was pretty questionable since it had lost a lot of its internal liquid. I put the last four in the fridge for immediate use. I'm guessing they didn't seal because beans really foam up when cooking. There could have been some leaking which can mess with the seal. If anyone out there has any tips for canning beans I'd appreciate it. 1/3 with bad seals is not a good number. I probably won't can any more beans this year as 8 jars will fill in the gaps for when I forget to start my beans early enough.

Join Robin over at The Gardener of Eden for more Thursday's Kitchen Cupboard posts.


  1. wow that is a big pressure canner!The beans look great even if they didn't quite work out

  2. We are going to be getting a pressure canner soon.

    I'm sure those beans will come in handy! Good luck with your new toy!

  3. I hadn't thought to pressure can some beans to have them ready when needed quickly. I use a pressure cooker to reduce the time from 2 hours to 1.5 hours. I still soak them with boiling water for an hour and then use the pressure cooker, which cooks them for 8 minutes or so once it is up to pressure. But then you still have to wait for it to cool down before you can open it up.

    Maybe I'll look into the pressure canner option for my beans.

  4. I'm so jealous of your canner. Mine works well and I don't need a fabulous, huge All American, but want, now that's another story.

    I have canned both dried and fresh beans and I think it is worth any effort. The taste is better than any other preparation method, in my opinion. The beans I have canned have been the most popular, the most often used, and the most requested of any of my canned efforts. Who'd a thunk it?

    The trouble I had with canning them was learning to stop filling the jars with beans way lower down in the jar then with anything else. You need a much higher ratio of liquid to veg when canning beans and it took me a few tries to get it right.

    We've gone through 14 quarts of pinto beans and all of the pints of fresh butter peas (Heaven in a jar!) in a very short amount of time. This year I'm going to can many, many more beans than I have in the past.

    I love talking about canning, can you tell? I have found pinto beans to be so versatile. You can eat them just as they are, or hot, or cold. You can make them into any number of tasty bean dishes, or you can use them as an ingredient in other dishes you are making.

    Do try again, I think your family will be very happy to have them.

  5. That All-American sure is a fine pressure cooker. I used one in a previous life to do all my canning. It belonged to my ex's grandmother, so it had been around for a while. I do still have a Mirro that will do up to 7 quarts/10 pints, which is big enough for my needs these days.

  6. I'm buying myself a canner for Christmas too!

  7. I don't par-boil them. I soak the dry beans for 15-18 hours, rinsing them off a couple of times during that soaking time. I then place them in the jar, fill with fresh boiling water and pressure can them. Any good canning book gives you the process and time. Beans are the easiest thing I can besides cubed venison.

  8. I'm afraid to use a pressure canner for fear it might explode on me (it's in my head, I know).

    Happy holidays and thanks for hosting Harvest Monday.

  9. This coming year you might try canning fresh shellies, instead of letting them dry on the vine. Also IIRC beans need a lot of head space, like an inch or something; check your recipe, beans expand in the jar, a lot. The jar that lost liquid; check the seal, push in the center of the lid, if it clicks it's not sealed, if it's sucked down and doesn't move it is. To be certain it's a really good seal, take the band off and hold it by the edge of the lid and raise it slightly off the counter with a towel under it for padding. The weight of the jar will break an iffy seal. Otherwise it is ok, tho the food sticking up out of the liquid may discolor.

    Could also have been a bad batch of lids. Check the rest of the box for a smooth layer of rubber that is not too thick. I had some old lids that had really thick rubber (much thicker than normal) and had more fails with them than usual.

  10. Now I know what you do with that wonderful variety of beans you have! I'm with Grace, I try not to overfill my jars when canning beans. Another tip while pressure canning is to let the jars cool in the pot longer before removing them -- sometimes the difference in air and canner temp breaks the seal before it has a chance to create a vacuum. Having said that, every time I use my pressure canner, it's a new learning experience...

  11. Another thought -- did you use new jars and the lids that came with them? I no longer use these lids, they're often damaged through exposure to heat while in storage, or even while sitting in the car. If you buy a new box of jars and find you have to pry off the lid, you'll see that the sealing compound has been compromised.

    The canned beans are especially good to have on hand when the electricity goes out!

  12. diaryofatomato, no they were lids from a box. I'm thinking leave the jars in the pot until the water cools down. I didn't do that. I'll try it next time I pressure can. I did leave a good 1" at the top of the jars, but it might not have been enough.