Canning beans at home makes a lot of sense these days! With the skyrocketing rate of inflation, using the lowly and economical bean in your meals will help to stretch your food dollars even further!
Dry beans have been a food staple, the world over, for generations. Beans are used in kitchens of every culture…and why not?
Not only are beans rich in soluble fiber, but also potassium, magnesium, folate, zinc and iron, all important nutrients for a plant-based diet.
Pressure canning beans isn’t difficult, as a matter of fact, it’s quite simple. I’ll walk you through canning beans, step by step!
Do I Have to Pressure Can Beans? Can I just use a Water Bath Canner?
Understanding High-Acid vs. Low-Acid Foods
Foods are grouped into 2 categories:
- High-acid foods
- Low-acid foods
High-acid foods consist of mostly fruit and include tomatoes. High-acid foods have a pH of 4.6 or less. Sometimes, lemon juice or vinegar is added to increase the acidity, as with tomatoes and figs. However, it is considered safe to water-bath can these foods.
Water boils at 212 degrees at sea level. When food is processed in boiling water, the heat is transferred to the product because it surrounds the jar, lid and band. The instructions will indicate how long the 212 degrees must be maintained to kill molds, yeasts and some bacteria, including inactive enzymes.
Common High-Acid Foods:
- Sour cherries
Common Low-Acid Foods:
- Green Beans
- Lima Beans
Low-acid foods cannot be processed by the water-bath method because boiling water cannot reach a high enough temperature to kill all of the bacteria present.
In order to achieve 240 degrees, the temperature required to kill bacteria, their spores and other toxins, you must use a steam-pressure canner. Period.
It doesn’t matter if your mom, aunt or grandma did it another way and so far hasn’t made anyone sick. I couldn’t live with myself if I made a family member sick. Remember, you can’t see or smell botulism, and this is some serious bacteria, enough to be fatal.
Don’t be afraid, just follow the recipes for either water-bath canning or steam-pressure canning.
What Do I Need for Canning Beans?
- Pressure Canner (I like this one) You MUST use a pressure canner for beans or any other low-acid food! A water bath canner simply does not get hot enough to kill botulism!
- Dry Beans (kidney, navy, black or pinto)
- Canning jars with lids and rings
When canning beans, growing your own kidney, navy or pinto beans at home is the absolute cheapest way to do this. However, purchasing dry beans from the store will serve you just as well and they are still very economical.
So often, people are fearful of pressure canners.
Let me tell you….if you inspect your seal, and it’s in good shape (not dry or cracked) and you follow the directions, your chances of that pressure canner exploding, or anything else crazy like that, is minimal. Very minimal.
Let’s get to work canning beans!
Rinse your beans thoroughly and look for any little impurities to discard.
When canning beans, it is necessary to soak your beans overnight, make sure you cover them with water.
After at least 12 hours of soaking, rinse your beans real well in the sink.
Put your beans in a pot with fresh water to cover 2 inches, and boil for 30 minutes. Stir frequently and keep an eye on them so that they don’t boil over.
While you wait for your beans to boil, you can be getting your jars washed and sterilized.
Preparing Canning Equipment
Pressure-canning involves high temperatures that can crack your jars, if they aren’t prepared properly. The contrast of temperatures can and will fracture your jars and all of your hard work will be in vain.
Once your jars are washed, place them in a large stock pot full of water on the stove with medium-high heat and simmer, don’t boil. You want the jars to be hot when you pack them with food and place them in your canner.
Also, put your lids in a sauce pot on low/medium heat, do not boil the lids. They simply need to be hot, not boiled.
Once your beans are ready, pack the hot beans into your jars leaving one inch of head space.
When canning beans, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt for pints, and 1 teaspoon for quarts.
Remove any air bubbles by inserting a butter knife or rubber spatula around the edges of the inside of the jar.
Wipe your rims with a clean, slightly wet cloth, add lids and rings. Rings should be placed on jars finger tight.
Pressure Canning Beans
Read your canner’s directions, but my canner calls for 3″ of water in the bottom. Be sure to place the canner’s trivet at the bottom of the canner.
Once you have the right amount of water in the canner and your trivet in place, place your bean-filled jars in the bottom of the pressure canner.
Leave space between the jars as well as from the inner wall of the canner, so that hot water and steam can get to all parts of your jars.
Place the lid on your canner and lock it into place.
Now, turn the burner on medium-high heat.
Pressure and heat will begin to build up inside the canner, forcing the cooler air out of the vent port. This process is called “venting” and it’s an important and necessary step.
You’ll hear a “hissing” sound, don’t be concerned, it’s normal.
You should “vent” your canner for 10 minutes.
Once 10 minutes have passed, place the pressure regulator on.
You will notice that the safety fuse will pop up, another indication that you’re building up pressure within the canner.
Keep the heat on medium-high, and continue to build the pressure we need for canning beans.
When the pressure regulator begins to “jiggle”, enough pressure has been built up.
At this point, turn your timer on and turn the heat back just a bit.
We want to stop building pressure at this point and begin to maintain the pressure. The pressure regulator should be “jiggling” at a steady rate, but not “hissing”.
If the “jiggling” sounds more like “hissing”, there’s too much pressure in the canner. Turn the heat down in small increments until it sounds more like “jiggling” again.
You want to hear a consistent “jiggling” sound throughout the canning process. With some experience, you’ll get used to the sounds of your pressure canner.
Process quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes, pints for one hour and 15 minutes.
Once your timer goes off, carefully, slide your canner off the burner and let it rest.
Do not touch the weight at this point!
Turn off your burner and wait for the valve to drop, this could take a while.
Once the valve drops, I remove the weight to release the rest of the pressure. You’ll hear some hissing, don’t panic!
Once all of the pressure is removed from the valves, you can carefully open your canner, always pointing the lid away from you! There will still be hot steam.
I like to put a clean kitchen towel on the counter, then using your jar lifter, carefully lift the jars out of the canner and onto the towel to cool down.
Listen for each lid to “ping” as it seals and smile to yourself knowing that you’ve just learned how to pressure can beans!
Canning beans is a great way to stretch your food dollars, fill your pantry and enjoy wholesome meals all year long!