I canned beans!! This probably isn't that exciting, but I am proud of myself. I asked for a pressure canner for Christmas and this was the first time I used it. It was much easier than I imagined although it took me a while since it was my first time. My friend Christi over at Lady Makes It has been my inspiration. I have black beans in my garage for food storage.. but lets be honest, I've had them for almost a year and half now and yet when I need black beans I go to the store and buy a can. Now, I can have ready to eat black beans when I want them. It is definitely cheaper as well. Yay!
Christi has canned chicken too, which I would love to do. Her chicken tastes really yummy on chips with her canned beans and melted cheese. So delicious. Thanks Christi for always feeding me.
1. To start, you will need a pressure canner. They come in many different brands and sizes. I have an All American pressure cooker/canner. Some pressure cookers are taller so that you can stack jars on top of each other to cook more at a time, others, like mine, are smaller. I could only fit six quart jars in my canner.
2. Make sure that there is a rack in the bottom of the canner. The jars should never be placed directly on the bottom of the canner. The rack helps the water to circulate.
3. Next, fill up your canner with water. You want to place water in your canner before you put the jars in. My canner said to use 2-3in. of water if a recipe doesn't specify. Depending on the size of your canner it may be more or less.
Now, onto the beans part...
1. You will want to wash and sort your dry beans. Sometimes beans come with rocks or sticks in them, so you want to make sure you get all of those out.
2. Clean and sterilize jars and lids. Check your canner to see how many jars will fit before this part, or you may do more work than necessary. There are many ways to sterilize your jars and lids. To sterilize the jars, I used the microwave. You can do this by placing 2 in of water in the bottom of your jar and placing it in the microwave until it boils, anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Make sure to use a hot pad when taking it out. Then dump out the water.
To sterilize the lids I put my lids in a shallow pie dish. Then I boil a small pot of water on the stove. I carefully pour the pot of boiling water onto the lids in the pie dish to sterilize them. I use a shallow dish because it's easier to get them out when I'm ready to put the lids on the jars.
3. Place the beans in your jars. For pints, put 1/2 cup of dry beans in. For quarts, put 1 cup dried beans in.
4. Place the salt in the jars. For pints, use 1/2 tsp salt. For quarts, use 1 tsp.
5. Fill up the jars with water. Leave about 3/4 inches at the top.
6. Wipe off the top of the jar with a clean towel. This is to ensure that the lid will seal properly.
7. Place a sterilized lid on the jar and then screw on the ring.
8. Place the jars in the pressure canner. If you have hard water you will want to put a few tablespoons of vinegar in the canner. I have done it with and without the vinegar. I canned strawberry jam with the water bath method and my jars came out looking like they had been covered in chalk. Some of it wiped off and some of it had hardened. Adding vinegar will eliminate this. It's not harmful it just looks weird.
9. Place the lid on the pressure canner. Gradually and evenly tighten two opposite screws at the same time, maintaining the same size gap around the entire lid. Place the pressure regulator weight over the vent pipe. Align the weight so that the hole corresponding to the desired pressure is directly over the vent pipe.
10. Place pressure canner over heat source. When the pressure regulator weight begins to jiggle and sputter adjust the heat until it jiggles only one to four times each minute. The pressure regulator weight will jiggle or rock when the pressure is reached.
11. Process the beans for 90 minutes at 15lbs of pressure. To count the cooking time, begin from the first jiggle or rock of the pressure regulator weight.
12. After 90 minutes, turn off heat source and let the beans cool. Do not try to rush this process. Do Not open the lid to the pressure canner until the steam pressure gauge registers zero. Do not move the pressure canner either. I started cooking my beans at 10 am and I didn't take them out of the canner until 5:30pm. It is good to remove the weight from the vent pipe once pressure gauge registers zero though. This will prevent a vaccum from forming in the canner, making it hard to remove the lid. Make sure to use an oven mitt to remove the weight, mine was still very hot.
Another good site to reference on the topic of canning is Amatterofprepardness.blogspot.com
I hope these instructions give you the confidence to can some beans! If you try it let me know how they turn out!