Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pressure Canning Beans.

Beans, beans and more beans!! i planted a lot of snap beans this year. My goal is to have enough for two meals a week for the entire year. This year, i planted Royalty Bush beans, Blue Lake and Purple Pole beans.

My favorite of these have definitely been the purple pole beans. The plants climb vigorously to 6'+ and are extremely productive. The beans are dark purple, string-less and flat. They have beautiful purple flowers, dark green foliage and the beans start purple, but turn green when you cook them.

For some reason, these beans seem to be somewhat resistant to the Mexican bean beetles, or perhaps they just preferred the other beans better. Both of the bush bean varieties ended up totally infested in bean beetles, and had to be pulled...but the pole beans are still going strong.

In past years, i freeze my beans. This year i decided to be brave and finally try the pressure canner. It's kind of a big intimidating thing. i read the manual from top to bottom, then watched several online tutorials and finally felt confident enough to try it.

It really isn't as scary at it looks. i use a water bath canner to prepare all my jars, lids and rings.

i place 1 1/2" of water in the pressure canner (yep, that's all) and get it heating. i like it to be boiling when i add my jars.

i make sure all my beans have been washed and cut, then i blanch them for 5 min. (hot pack) Fill jars with hot beans, and some of the hot cooking liquid leaving a 1/2" head space. Wipe rims with a clean cloth, place lids and rings on jars, and tighten. Then place them in your pressure canner.

Once your canner is full secure the lid, and tighten the wingnuts. Turn up the heat and let steam escape from the vent pipe for 10 min. Then place the pressure regulator weight over the vent.

i'm at over 2000 feet elevation, so i have to process everything at 15lbs of pressure according to my guide. When the pressure in the canner reaches 15psi the regulator weight begins to jiggle,rock and hiss. At this point i turn the heat down until it is jiggling only 1-4 times per minute. This part is a little tricky, but i just turn the heat down a little at a time until i get it.

Once you've got the correct pressure, set your kitchen timer. i process my beans for 20 min. at 15psi.

When the timer goes off i turn off the heat. i leave the canner completely alone until the pressure inside registers zero. Only when i am sure the pressure is at zero do i open the canner and remove the jars.

This was first batch! It was exciting and a little scary! i used pint jars because i have a ton of them, but quart jars typically work better for beans if you have 4 or more people in your family.

So far i've canned about 50 pints of green beans so far. i still have a fridge full of blue lake green beans, Purple pole beans that need picked, and more of both planted and beginning to flower. So i'll be doing more batches of soon.

i'm terrible about keeping track of food totals, but here is a photo of some of the food i have canned so far this year. Jams, beans and pickles. No tomatoes this year, as i've had to freeze all of them of blight. i've frozen about 18 quarts so far, which is much more than i thought i'd be getting. i'd like to try canning a few other things like potatoes, dry beans and soups.

The pressure canner really wasn't as scary as i thought it would be! Just make sure and follow the manufacturers instructions. They are all different, and processing times and pressures vary depending on altitude.


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