Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Canning Beans Tutorial

I have helped can beans before.  I've never done it by myself.  I need to learn.  My memory stinks.  So today, when I went to my parents house for yet another bean canning lesson, I took detailed notes and a million photos.  I'm putting everything I learned right here.  I feel sure that I could do it by myself after this.  I took lots of photos, but my parents were camera shy today, so you'll only see their hands and arms.

This lesson is based on green beans being canned in quart jars.  If you use a different vegetable or a different size jar, the times would be different.

What we used:
This canning kit really comes in handy.  All the gadgets with blue on the handle are from this kit.
This is the pressure canner we used. It holds up to 7 quart sized jars.

How to Can Beans

Have clean quart sized canning jars on hand.  Inspect the jar rims very carefully.  If a speck of anything is there or if there's a nick in the jar, they won't seal properly.

Snap and wash the beans.  Put them in a pot.  You can do this the day before and refrigerate them if you like.

Put water in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Pour boiling water over the beans til they are well covered. Boil for 5 minutes.

While waiting, put the jar lids & bands in boiling water to sterilize.

The canning funnel makes filling the jars easier.

Warm up the jars by rinsing them in warm water.  Dip out the beans and fill canning jars up to the rim.  Try not to add too much water til the beans are well packed in the jar. Then add water till it's up to the rim of the jar. That leaves about 1/4 to 1/2 inch head space at the top of the jar.  If there are leftover beans, but not enough to fill a jar, have them for dinner or add them to the next batch if you will be canning again soon.

Add salt to each jar. The recipe calls for 1 tsp, but if you are using canning salt, you might want to just use 1/2 tsp.  Clean the jar rims again.  A speck of salt on the rim could keep the jar from sealing.

Place the canning rack in the bottom of the canning pot.  Put 3 quarts of hot water in the canning pot.  You can use the water the lids were boiling in.

The magnetic lid lifter comes in handy!

Put on the jar lids and rings/bands.  Tighten the rings pretty good, then loosen just a tiny bit -1/4 inch.  My dad is the pro at this.

We labeled our beans - this one has a mix of several bean varieties.

Put the jars in the canner using the jar lifter.

Put the lid on the canner and tighten it.  First line up the arrows on the lid and pot, then turn the lid til the handles are together.  Make sure the rubber overpressure plug is in.  On our pressure canner, this is a small black plug.  As a safety backup, if the vent pipe gets blocked or clogged, this little rubber thing will pop out and release steam.

Turn the stove on high.  Watch for the vent pipe to start steaming. Then begin timing.  It needs to steam for 7 minutes.  This is a good time to clean up some of your mess. During steaming, the air vent may start spitting out water.  Just wipe it off every now and then.

At some point during the 7 minutes, the air vent should pop up.  That shows pressure is building.

After the 7 minutes is up, put the pressure regulator on the vent pipe.

Leave the stove on high.  Watch the pressure dial gauge.  The goal is to get to and maintain 10 to 11 pounds of pressure.  When it reaches about 5 to 6 lbs, you can start easing down on the stove temperature.  Continue to adjust the stove setting.  Most likely, you'll end up with the stove on low.

Once the canner reaches 10 pounds of pressure, start timing. Keep it between 10 and 11 pounds for 25 minutes.  You will need to monitor and adjust the whole time.  It may go a little over or under 10-11 pounds.

When 25 minutes is up, LIFT (don't slide) the canner off the burner.  Let the pressure drop on its own - don't do anything to try to speed up this process.

The pressure is down when the air vent drops back down and no steam comes out when the pressure regulator is tilted.  Don't use the dial gauge as an indicator - even when it goes back to zero, the pressure may not be down enough. During this lesson, it took 45 minutes for the pressure to go down.  Occasionally, a jar may pop while still in the canner.

When the pressure is down, take off the pressure regulator and remove the lid.  Everything is still hot so use oven mitts and tilt the lid so steam goes away from your face. 

Using a jar lifter, remove jars and place them on a towel, leaving at least a 1 inch space between jars during cooling.  It won't be long before you'll hear the jar lids start popping.  There's a small bump on the lid.  Once it pops, that bump is gone.  Some will pop faster than others.  It only took 5 or 6 minutes for all of ours to pop.

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