Gardening Articles: Health :: Cooking
by National Gardening Association Editors
Canning beans is a great way to store them for future use. Follow these steps for the best beans.
1. For safety and health, use a pressure canner with an accurate gauge for canning low-acid vegetables like beans.
For complete instructions and precautions for pressure canning, carefully read and follow the instruction booklets that accompany your canner and your jars. If there is a discrepancy between the directions that came with your canner and the ones below, follow the instructions that accompanied your specific canner. There are also several books available that deal at greater length with pressure canning. One that's clear, complete and concise is Putting Food By, by Hertzberg, Vaughan and Greene; another "bible" is the Ball Blue Book, which always has the most current U. S. Department of Agriculture canning information in its frequent updates.
2. Assemble all utensils: pressure canner, Mason-type canning jars, lids, bands, tongs or jar lifter, timer, cooling racks, wide-mouth funnel, slotted spoon, wooden or plastic spatula or "bubbler" and colander.
Use only Mason-type jars for home canning. These self-sealing, airtight jars are safe for canning because the glass is heat-tempered. Don't bother saving other jars, such as mayonnaise jars, for canning vegetables.
Do not reuse dome lids. The rubber compound loses its ability to seal perfectly after one use. You can reuse screw bands and jars, but replace screw bands when they rust.
3. Examine and clean all equipment. Check all bands for rust, dents or nicks and jars for chips and cracks. Recycle them or use them elsewhere if they aren't perfect. Wash all equipment in hot, soapy water, but do not immerse the top of your pressure canner in water -- just wipe it with a clean, damp cloth. Keep clean jars, screw tops and dome lids in hot water until ready to use.
4. Prepare only the freshest, cleanest produce. One bushel of fresh beans will result in 15 to 20 quarts of canned beans. Prepare beans in the same manner as for freezing, but do not blanch.
5. Cold Pack or Hot Pack: Vegetables may be canned either cold pack (using raw vegetables) or hot pack (with some degree of precooking). Cold pack is less work, and better for delicate vegetables such as tomatoes. Hot pack is better for beans, because more beans fit into each jar. The flavor is the same whichever method you choose.
Snap Beans: Firmly pack raw, prepared beans into hot jars. The beans will shrink during processing. Leave one inch of headspace (correct headspace allows for proper venting and sealing of the jars). Add boiling water to each jar, making sure the liquid covers the food, but retaining the one inch of headspace. If you prefer, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt per pint. Run a spatula or bubbler around the insides of the jars to eliminate air bubbles. Wipe the jar tops and threads clean with a damp cloth. Put the lids, rubber side down, on the jars and firmly screw on the bands.
Green shell or soybeans: Put raw, shelled beans loosely into hot jars, leaving one inch of headspace. The beans will expand during processing. Continue the canning procedure as detailed above for snap beans.