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I have a thing for home canned foods, kind of like an obsession, but a healthy one. Because there is such thing as a healthy obsession, don't ya think?
I believe in an emergency situation home canned food is your best bet, and I wrote a full article about it over at Mom with a Prep. But another reason I love home canned food is because it's my fast go to meal when I didn't plan dinner… because sometimes I get busy and don't realize I forgot until it's only twenty minutes before dinner time. You do that too, right?
One of the beautiful things about having canned beans on hand, is I don't have to remember to soak them the night before and let them cook all day. Don't get me wrong, when I plan right, I love having a pot of chili or soup beans simmering on the stove or in the slow cooker all day, but there's something to be said about having dinner on the table in less than a half hour, too.
So that's why I can up some of my shelled beans. These are heirloom October beans, similar to Dragon's Tongue, though mine is a variety my family has been saving for years. When canning shelled beans, there's a few tricks to making sure you have success. It's slightly different than regular canning.
Did you know beans are one of the things my family used to get through the Great Depression? Here's my Building a Great Depression Era Pantry-Frugal Tips and Recipes for more info.
For canning, you want to pick ripe beans to shell, not ones that are already dry. Not sure what that looks like? Check out my post on saving and storing heirloom been seed for photos.
Shell the beans and rinse them off. Pick out any beans that have brown spots on them. You can cook these for use now, but they're not a canidate for canning or drying as they might spoil. If the beans are a little on the dry side, soak them overnight in water.
Note: It's not recommended to can dry beans that have been dry for a long period of time using the raw pack method. You may can dry beans using the hot pack method.
Wash your jars. I only can beans in quarts, though pints are fine. Fill your clean jars with the shelled beans to 1 and 1/2 inch headspace for quart jars and 1 inch for pints. Don't pack them all the way! For quarts, add 1 teaspoon salt. (The beans will swell as the absorb water while canning, so the jar will be full when it's done processing)
Boil water on the stove and pour hot water over beans, leaving a 1 and 1/2 inch head space for quart jars and 1 inch for pints. (My pressure canner says 1 and 1/2 inch head space, but my Ball Complete Book of Canning *affiliate link says 1 inch head space after adding the water) I filled the jars to the 1 and 1/2 inch head space with the raw beans, and then filled the hot water to the 1 inch head space mark. Wipe rim of jar with a clean damp cloth, place lids on, and screw down bands. Place jars in pressure canner. Beans are a non-acid food and can only be safely canned in a pressure canner.
Place lid on pressure canner and allow steam to vent for ten minutes. Don't skip this step as it helps the contents of the jar to reach the correct temperature. Process beans at 10 lbs. of pressure for 50 minutes. When time is up, remove heat and allow canner to cool down on it's own. When pressure is reduced, remove lid but leave jars in canner for about 10 minutes. Then place on a towel folded in thirds. Leave for at least 12 hours before checking the seals and moving to your pantry.
And there you have pressure canned shelled beans to grace your home food storage shelves.
Update: If you have liquid loss, food is safe to eat as long as there is at least liquid in half of the jar. The food exposed above the water line will usually be darker. I recommend eating these jars first.
You can also pre-soak the beans for a few hours or overnight before canning if you're worried they're a bit on the dry side to avoid so much liquid loss.
If you're even in doubt on the safety of a jar, throw it out.
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.