In my garden, one of the easiest things to grow and to preserve is green beans. They grow without much effort. You plant the seeds, either bush or pole green beans, set up a trellis if they are pole beans, and provide adequate water. They germinate pretty well and they will grow even in my black clay soil.
Being self-sufficient means you should be learning new skills all the time. However, I believe that you should pick some easy things to learn first. Canning green beans are one of those easy things to learn. For starters, you will be growing your own food already which is a great skill to learn and practice. Next, you will then be learning how to use your pressure canner which is also a great skill to learn.
Pressure canning can seem intimidating. I will admit that when I first started learning how to can my own food, I stuck to jams and anything that could be water bath canned for a long time. I didn't have a pressure canner until my mom gave me her pressure canner. Even then, I was a bit intimidated by it until I got to use it more. Now I have a newer one that makes pressure canning even less daunting.
I started learning to use my pressure canner by canning green beans. I am strictly by the book when using my pressure canner. I rely on The Ball Blue Book of Preserving to know how to pressure can my vegetables. I do have a few other sources for canning that I like to use, but when it comes to straight vegetables, the Ball Blue Book wins.
How To Process Green Beans For Pressure Canning
Did I say green beans are easy? They really are the perfect vegetable to start learning pressure canning. You will want to give your green beans a rinse in the sink to clean any dirt or debris off. Drain the green beans and start snapping.
Some people prefer using a knife, but really you can just snap your green beans. Break off the stem end first. Then just break the bean into about 2-inch pieces into another bowl.
Getting Ready To Can
You will want to get your jars hot and sanitized. You can do this by putting them in the oven at 250 degrees until you are ready to use them. I leave mine in there for 5-10 minutes. You can also heat them up in hot boiling water for five minutes (just get your pressure canner water boiling and use that). You can also run them through a quick cycle on your dishwasher to get them good and hot.
In the meantime, you should get your pressure canner going if you haven't already. You will also want to get a pot (roughly a three-quart pot) full of water and started boiling.
Next, you can do one of two things: You can just raw pack the green beans into your jars. Whether you use pint or quart size jars is up to you and your family needs. Or you can blanche your green beans first (drop into boiling water for two minutes, drop into an ice water bath) and then pack into jars. I fall into the first camp and just raw pack my green beans into jars.
Now you can add salt or not add salt. The choice is yours. I like mine with salt. I would recommend using canning/pickling salt because it is meant for this application. You will also not have cloudy water in your jars. You will need a 1/2 teaspoon for pint jars and 1 teaspoon for quart jars.
Once you have the jars packed and salted (optional), you will want to add boiling water. Ideally, you want to leave an inch of headspace in the jar. Put on your lids and screw on your rings. Your rings should only be put on hand tight.
Now Time To Can
By this time, the water in your pressure canner should be boiling. Add your jars to your canner using tongs or a jar lifter. No need to burn your hands at this point. In my pressure canner, I can fit eight pint-size jars or six quart-size jars comfortably. You don't want to just cram them in the canner or you can end up with broken jars.
Put your lid on your pressure canner per your instruction book. Now, you need to wait for steam to be steadily coming out of the vent pipe. Once this happens, put your counterweight on the vent pipe. Your pressure canner will now start to come up to pressure.
In my area and altitude, I only 10-11 pounds of pressure to safely can in my pressure canner. You will need to check your altitude to be sure you are using the correct amount of pressure. Once the dial gauge says the correct amount of pressure, you can start the timer. For pint-size jars, you will need to process for 20 minutes. For quart-size jars, you will need to process for 25 minutes.
In order to stay at or near the correct amount of pressure, you may need to adjust the temperature of your burner. I often have to turn the heat down on mine to medium or lower. Just keep an eye on your dial gauge and your counterweight. If the counterweight is jiggling a lot, you may need to lower the temperature. If the dial gauge dips below the needed amount of pressure, you may need to raise your temperature.
With pressure canning, you do not want to walk away from the canner. You need to keep an eye on the canner! This would be an excellent time to do the dishes, clean the kitchen, scrub the floor, make a batch of brownies, etc. Just stay in the room!
After The Timer Goes Off
Once your timer dings, you want to shut off the burner. Then you want to grab a couple of hot pads (again, not a good time to burn your hands!) and gently move your pressure canner to another burner. Then you can walk away from your pressure canner.
Do not attempt to open it or take off the counterweight. You will risk burning yourself, breaking jars, or both. Let the canner gently come down to zero pressure. This can take 1-2 hours. Once it has done that, remove the counterweight. Now you can open the canner and remove your jars with tongs or a jar lifter. Put the jars on a towel to dry.
Label your jars and you have just successfully canned your green beans. In a day or two, you will want to check your lids and make sure they have sealed correctly.
Canning is pretty simple but understandably daunting at first. If you start easy and pick easy things to can, you will be ready for more complicated recipes in no time.
Thanks for reading,
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