If you like to cook your own dried beans, then you know you have to plan ahead. First you need to soak them and then you will need to spend all day cooking them. So this is really a two-day plan every time you want to cook beans, and then you have a whole lot of beans to eat that week or freeze for later. Why not do that whole 2-day event once and can your beans to use whenever you want? One caveat, though. You MUST pressure can your beans. Regular old water bath canning won’t cut it. Because beans are a low-acid food they need to be canned at 240° F for a specific amount of time. Water bath canners only reach 212° F. But don’t worry, pressure canning beans isn’t scary or hard. It just takes a little more time… and the ability to not go crazy listening to the pressure gauge jiggling and releasing steam for an hour or more. For some of us, that sound is nostalgic and will bring back fond memories of mom cooking in the kitchen. If that isn’t your history, then just know you’ll be making that sound nostalgic for your kids.
My favorite beans to can are chickpeas because I use them so often, but this time I thought it would be fun to see what Whole Foods had in the bulk section. Willow and I stopped there and couldn’t decide what to can, so we just got about a cup of every kind of bean (except chickpeas and lentils).
These are what we came home with: Green Flageolets, Cannelloni, Calypso, Pinto, Red Kidney, Jacob’s Cattle, Black, Red, and Black-eyed Peas. They ranged in price from $2.49-4.79 per pound. They were all organic, so that’s why the price was high. If you used bagged or bulk beans from the grocery store the price would be way less than half that. The total price for the beans was $16.33. That makes each pint a little less than $1 each because I had about a quart left over after canning.
Steps for pressure canning beans
1. Wash and soak beans in cold water over night.
2. Prep work area and gather equipment
I like to clean my sink and counters with bleach water whenever I can. It isn’t as necessary with pressure canning because the high heat kills everything, but I still like to do it.
Equipment you need:
- pan or bowl for cleaning and soaking beans (step 1)
- large pot for boiling beans
- pressure canner (I use a Mirro 22 quart)
- clean jars (left in hot water), lids, and bands
- ladle, slotted spoon, wide mouth funnel, jar lifter, small pitcher for pouring (optional)
- towel, paper towel or clean cloth,
3. Boil Beans
Drain beans and put in large pot with water, and boil for 30 minutes, skimming foam off as necessary.
While the beans are boiling, get the canner ready
Fill the canner with only 2-3 inches of water
Place the bottom rack in and begin to heat the water while the beans boil, or right after if you have no room on the stove.
4. Fill jars with beans
Place hot jars on a towel next to the stove. (The towel protects hot jars from cracking when coming in contact with the cool counter.) Using a slotted spoon or other strainer, transfer beans ,without liquid, to jars. I filled them to within 1 inch, but I think 2 inches below the rim would be better because that would allow more liquid since the beans soak up the liquid and expand more when canned.
5. Add salt if desired
I add about 1/2 tsp of kosher salt in my beans, but it isn’t necessary if you are avoiding salt.
6. Add cooking liquid to jars
Fill the jars with hot cooking liquid, leaving 1 inch headspace (1 inch below top of jar).
7. Wipe jar rims
This is important in order to create a propper seal. Simply use a damp paper towel or clean cloth to wipe the rims of all jars.
8. Place lids and bands on jars
Use only new lids each time you can. You can use the bands over and over. Screw the bands on just fingertip tight, they have to be able to release air from the jar while in the canner.
9. Fill canner with jars
Carefully place jars in the canner with the bottom rack in place. Be sure not to tilt the jars.
Place second rack on top of jars and continue to fill. It is okay if jars touch when pressure canning, but not water bath canning.
10. Fasten the canner lid and vent canner
Do this with the weight off or the petcock open (depends on the type of canner you have.) Turn heat to highest setting. Once steam begins to flow from the vent sent the timer for 10 minutes.
11. Place the correct weight on or close the petcock.
(Anything above 1000 ft above sea level should use a 15# weight, this applies to Phoenix). The far right is a 15#.
Altitude Chart from FreshPreserving.com
12. Begin timing when dial is at pressure or the weight jiggles.
It takes my stove a very long time to reach the jiggle stage (like an hour). This is what it will sound like when it is jiggling correctly. Each canner is different, but the instruction manual will tell you what to expect. Mine says it should jiggle 3-4 times a minute.
Once it is jiggling correctly or at the correct pressure for a pressure gauge, begin timing.
Note: If at any time your canner loses pressure or the weight stops jiggling, you must return the canner to the correct pressure by increasing the heat and, GULP, begin timing all over again.
Pint jars take 1 hour 15 minutes
Quart jars take 1 hour 30 minutes
13. When the time is complete
Turn off the stove and carefully remove the pan from the heat. Allow to cool 30-45 minutes, then remove the weight or open the petcock. It will definitely smell like beans in the kitchen.
14. Remove jars
After 10 minutes, carefully remove the lid, tilting it away from your face because there is still some hot steam in there. Use the jar lifter to remove the jars (they will still be bubbling) and place them on a towel to cool slowly for 12-24 hours. Aren’t they beautiful!!
15. Ready for storage
The next day, remove the bands from the jars. It is not recommended that you store jars with the bands attached. Also, you can wipe them down since they may have bean juice on them. Don’t worry, it’s okay, in the process of removing air from the jars, liquid also may come out. It doesn’t affect the seal.
Some of the jars from the bottom will have a white film on the outer surface. This is jus minerals from the water. You can use a rag with vinegar and water to wipe them off.
Now that they are all pretty, make sure to write the date and what is inside. I use a Sharpie on the lid. You can also put cute labels on them if you like.
Canned food should be stored in a cool environment out of direct sun. It will last for many years, but the quality begins to decline after the first year. Don’t worry, you’ll use them up and be ready to can more in no time.
Here are some helpful websites:
The USDA has free downloadable guides for canning everything. They are the authority in safe canning practices, so make sure to get all 7 publications: