Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Canning Brown Beans...

There is nothing better than going into your pantry and opening a jar of brown beans to be used in chili or baked beans or whatever you want. It takes a little more time to can your own beans but the difference in taste makes it worth it. Here's how I do mine.

First soak the beans overnight in a large container. Wash and sterilize quart canning jars. Drain the beans and put in the quart jars. Then add a wedge of onion. Fill with hot liquid and add a teaspoon of salt to each jar. Fill liquid to neck of jar. Don't pack beans in jar overly tight so as to allow room for expansion.

The best liquid is broth from baking a ham. Let the ham broth cool and then spoon off the fat that will rise to the top. Then reheat this liquid, add more water to completely fill all your jars of beans and then pour this liquid over the beans. Or if you don't have ham broth, just add water. The onion will flavor the beans anyway.

The below instructions are from my Canning book that came with my canner:

"Insert spatula around sides of jar to get out any air bubbles. Wipe jar rims clean, place hot, previously simmered lids on jars and screw down rings firmly tight. Place rack in your canner and add recommended amount of water. I add 2 quarts for the size canner I have. (mine holds 7 quarts) Check your manual for your size. Add the jars to the rack in your pressure cooker. Put on lid and heat. With pressure control off (jiggler), heat on high until steam comes out of vent tube. Let steam vent for 10 minutes. After venting, place control on vent tube at correct pressure setting according to the chart. I live under the 1000 feet altitude so mine will be set on 10 lbs pressure. If you live over the 1000 feet altitude, yours will be 15 lbs. pressure.

When control jiggles vigorously, reduce heat so that control jiggles about 3-4 times per minute. Avoid turning heat up and down. This can cause uneven pressure and can cause liquid to be forced out of the jar. (dry beans) Count processing time from the time the control starts to jiggle vigorously. I process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.

When processing time is completed, remove canner from heat. (I just turn the canner off. Too heavy for me to lift.)Let canner cool. It takes about 25-35 minutes for pressure to drop in a small canner and about an hour for pressure to drop in a larger canner. When pressure is fully down, remove control (jiggler). Carefully remove cover. Tilt cover so steam escapes away from you. To test if pressure is down, gently nudge control. If you see steam spurting out, pressure is not yet down. Let canner continue to cool.

Using a jar lifter, remove jars from canner. Set jars on a cooking rack or on several thicknesses of cloth. Let jars cool. After 12 hours, remove screw bands from jars with metal lids. Make sure all jars are sealed. Wipe jars with a damp cloth, dry, and label with contents and date. Store in a cool, dry place. "

And there you have it. A wonderful "meal in a jar". You can add chunks of ham to the beans, but I like to can my ham separately in pint jars and then add a pint when I open the beans.

Always read your pressure cooker directions before using a pressure cooker so you will be familiar and fill comfortable with all the parts. Canning is not as scary as our mothers led us to believe. My mom wouldn't even let us kids come into the same room as the canner because she was always afraid it was going to "blow up." Somewhere back in time, someones canner must have blown up because I hear the same story over and over. Anyway, Canners are much safer now than then. I think it is a good idea to buy a pressure canner and learn to use it now before the time comes that we HAVE to learn how to use it. And you can have a way to preserve all those fresh vegetable you either raise or buy from you local farmer's market in the summer.

There is great satisfaction in knowing you are putting up food the same way your mother and grandmother and great-grandmother did generations ago. Besides that, it's much more healthy also!!!

Now don't these make you hungry just looking at them? Try canning beans for yourself! You'll be glad you did.

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