Thursday, October 11, 2012

Beauty in Failure

I had just one can of beans left canned in my pantry. It was left over from canning last winter. I eat a lot of beans in the winter, but not so many in the summer. I used to make bean salads with tomatoes and pepper. But now that I can't eat tomatoes and peppers anymore, I find the beans don't get eaten much during the warm season. I really have to find some new salad recipes.

But I digress. When I canned that jar I still wasn't happy with the procedure. I was canning directly how you are told to. Soak the beans. Cook for 30 minutes. Add beans to 1" from the top then fill with boiling water leaving 1" head space. Pressure can at 10lbs for 75 minutes for pints. It worked, but I had multiple lid failures. The liquid from boiling beans is thick and gummy. It can easily get under the lid and cause a failure. Also I often have lots of different kinds of beans from the garden and I don't want to have to cook each different kind individually in a pot. That is more little sauce pans that I own. Heck it is more burners than I have on my stove.

I had heard of people saying they just put dried beans in their jars and can them that way. I tried to find that, but didn't. I did find that you can soak the beans for the given amount of time and then can them. You fill the jar with a scant third full with soaked beans and then add boiling water with a 1" headspace. The problem that can cause is different beans have differing dryness and will absorb different amounts of water. Some people using this method have ended up with the liquid gone and the beans still dry on the top layer. Now I'm using home grown beans so you might be able to tell where this is going. Home grown beans are not the dried out little things you can buy in the store. When I cook with beans a recipe will say cook the beans for two hours. Well for me it is more like 30 minutes to an hour to make the beans soft.

I did use the last of the 2011 beans. So you might expect they were closer to those dried out little store beans. Well you would be wrong. I used the soaking method where you bring the beans to a boil and let sit for an hour. (Due to total lack of planning, I did want to try it by soaking overnight, but it was a rainy day and my pressure canner had already been brought up from the basement, so they were damn well getting canned that day. I had to use the top of my double boiler to get enough pans to boil the beans in.) From the amount of dried beans I had I expected 6-7 jars. I put 8 in the dishwasher as you never want to run out. As I was putting the beans in I kept thinking the beans were never going to expand to fill the jar. After eight of the jars were filled I needed four more. Luckily I had washed my new jars recently so they were clean. I heated them up by putting hot water from the faucet so they would at least be hottish when I poured boiling water in them. I don't want to crack my jars. In the end I filled up 12 jars, about twice what I thought I would have needed from the quantity of beans.

Yup. I should have listened to that little voice in my head that was telling me I didn't have enough beans in the jar. Though the amount was a total failure, none of the lids failed to seal. So at least that was a success.

Mexican Pinto, Ottawa Cranberry, Apache Red, Cherokee Trail of Tears

Aren't they almost as pretty as the pickled onions I made two weeks ago? Jars should always be photographed with the morning light shinning through them. I get these photos through pure serendipity, not planning. I put the jars in the same spot to cool every time. I leave them there overnight. Then in the morning the light is streaming through the kitchen window. I never think to photograph them that way beforehand. I have photos of them from yesterday that are boring bean photos. Add morning light and you get such beauty. I felt sad about putting them in the pantry.

Join Robin over at The Gardener of Eden to see how others are stocking their pantry shelves.


  1. I love the way the jars look with the morning light. I put my jars by the window to cool but it gets the setting sun.

  2. While the quantity might not be what you'd like--you can't argue with the beauty of that photo. So pretty.

  3. What a lovely photos Daphne! thanks for sharing your tips on canning beans. I really need to get a pressure canner this winter.

  4. They look beautiful! You make me really want to try growing beans for drying and shelling.

  5. I bet the beans are soft and beautiful tasting. You just have "individual" servings instead of a full jar. :D