21 May 2011

Canning dry beans in the pressure canner

This week for the preparedness challenge, I thought I'd share a skill I'm working on instead of the next step of the 72 hour kit.  We were traveling this week, so I didn't have a chance to work on the 72 hour kit much.  Besides, canning is an important skill plus,  I'm a bit lazy, so this is what you get.

We spent a few days this week visiting my mom.  The weather wasn't great, but we got outside a bit anyway.  Spring is just barely peeking out there.  Her tulips were blooming and the grass is turning green under the snow they got during the night, but that's about the only color you see other than the brown mud everywhere, but that doesn't really count.

We did not use this old stove

My mom took full advantage of my presence and started canning beans.  Canning dry beans takes a pressure canner.  Pressure canners are just scary enough to stop us both from doing much with them when we're alone.  Together, we have just enough courage to do it.  For Christmas, I bought two new pressure gauges for her two twin canners.  (She has several, I don't know where they all come from)  This was the maiden voyage for those gauges.  *Get your gauges checked every year to be safe.  We took ours (hers) to the county extension office and they took them to a neighboring county since their tester thinger was broken.*

At the last minute, mom decided to use her antique canner that has been handed down from mother to daughter since my grandma's grandma.  It's pretty cool looking and the gauge was actually accurate.  (she tested it too)  She chose to use it because it is tall and she wanted to try canning some half gallon jars of beans for those times that we are feeding a multitude.  There is surprisingly little information online about this particular canner.  I looked because I was nervous.  (I did learn that half gallon jars aren't really well tested with the pressure canner.  So keep that in mind...)  The valve things on this baby are complicated and a little scary.  Mom cranked up the heat and then decided to go see if my sister had any potatoes she could borrow.  Sneaky lady left me there wringing my hands, not knowing exactly how to run the thing.  It does look scary with steam pouring out the copper valve... kind of bomb-like.

It was a funny turn of events for me to be standing on the balcony calling for the neighboring house to send mom home.  How many times had she stood there and called for me when I was a girl...?

We survived with no mishaps, thank goodness.  I know I make a big deal out of a not so big thing, but I'm a coward, I guess.  Maybe it's the gauge and valves that make the pressure canner look so scary.  It's really not that complicated, if you read the directions and keep them handy because you will forget exactly when you are supposed to turn the heat down.

Why can dry beans, you ask?  They store perfectly and almost forever in their dry state.  Seems like a bit of work just to get beans in a jar.  But, for a person like me that only remembers that I was supposed to soak beans about five minutes before I need them for the meal, beans in a jar are a valuable commodity.  The funny thing about this process is... you have to soak the beans.  I'm a dork, I know, but it makes sense to my silly brain.  Better to soak a bunch of beans and get them all cooked at once so I don't have to remember in the future.

Here's the process we went through, just in case you want to know...

-Soak the beans.  I know a lady that says you don't really need to do this step.  You can measure out the dry beans and soak them right in the jars if you want.
-Put beans into the jars.  Dry bean measurements are: pints 1/2 cup beans  quarts 3/4 cup beans.  I know that doesn't make sense. Two pints to a quart,  but 1 cup of beans in a quart jar is just too much.  I know, I tried.  We soaked all the beans together and then divided them into the jars.  The jars will be just over half way full with soaked beans.  I've heard that people cook the beans first, but I don't.  They cook a bunch in the canner.
-Top off jars with water, leaving 1 inch head space, then wipe the rim of the jar.
-Put lids on.  I've read to warm the lids in a pot of almost boiling water, but I forgot.
-Our canner said to put two quarts of hot water into the canner... follow the directions with your canner as far as venting, etc.  We vented for 10 minutes and then put the doo-jobby on.  My mom calls it a stop-cock.  I prefer doo-jobby.
-For our elevation, we brought the pressure to 14.  To find the correct pressure, look in a canning book or in the instructions that came with your canner.   I would go with the canning book if it's up to date.
-Let cook for 75 minutes for pints, or 90 minutes for quarts.

Happy pressure canning!

I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's preparedness challenge!


  1. Do you have any great recipes for beans? We canned about 60 jars of pinto beans last fall and I haven't even used one yet. :-X I am just not creative with bean recipes (actually I don't use them very often at all, but I'd like to!).

  2. Thank you so much for this tutorial and the photos of the cook stove and canner. They are awesome. I would love to have an old cook stove like that one. :)

  3. Joyfilled- I did post a bean recipe under the title, "branding day menu" and I shared it at homestead revival also. She did a recipe share for beans and got a lot of recipes.

    Nancy- I love old cook stoves. I've seriously considered using old cook stoves as counter tops in my "someday" house. I don't think the hubby would go for it though. That one was my grandmas and it sat in her shed for a long time before she decided to throw it out! My mom swooped in and saved it. Someday I hope to fix it up back to it's proud days.

  4. Thank you! I will check them all out!!

  5. This is great! I have been wanting to can beans but never had a tutorial for it. Thanks again!