08 March 2015

Using Your Canner Off Season

  Wintertime is a great time to dust off your neglected pressure canner and put it to good use. While there is much work for a canner to do at harvest time, often the canner spends it's winter sitting in the pantry with the extra empty canning jars and lids. But it is possible to keep the canner gainfully employed all year round. During the summer months and into the fall the canner is usually filled with green beans, tomatoes and other produce from the garden, the winter months offer a completely different fare, vegetable soup, chili, chicken pot pie filling, venison canned from a hunting trip, taco filling, assorted dried beans... The variety is endless and the time spent in the kitchen canning will give you a convenient assortment of home cooked foods at your finger tips for busy days.

One of my favorite off season canning projects is to put up dried beans. I am a real fan of black turtle beans, and use them frequently, but pinto, garbanzo, and cannellini beans also regularly have a place on our table. Having jars of home made beans on the shelf ready for use is a big help in meal preparation, since I don't have to remember to soak and cook beans before I can prepare a meal.

 Canning beans is really very simple and the end result is far superior to what you can purchase from the store. To can dried beans first soak the beans overnight, I usually do about 10 pounds of beans at one time, but you can do whatever amount you want. Usually 1 pound of dried beans makes 4 pints of beans. So determine how many pints or quarts you want and soak the corresponding number of pounds of beans. I use a 22 quart stock kettle to soak my beans, but a dishpan would work too. Once the beans have soaked overnight cook them for 1/2 hour. If you don't have a large kettle and used the dishpan for soaking, then you will have to cook the beans in your pot in batches.

While the beans are cooking, sterilize your jars. You can steam sterilize the jars in the pressure canner, boil them, or put them in the oven at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. The flat part of the two part canning lid also needs to be boiled and then kept hot until used.
Fill the hot, sterilized jars with the beans, settling the beans as much as possible, then add 1/2 tsp. of sea salt to each pint jar or 1 level tsp. to a quart sized jar. Ladle cooking liquid into the jars. There should be about one inch of head room from the liquid and beans to the top of the jar.

With a clean damp cloth, wipe the rim of the jars thoroughly. then put the flat part of the lid on the jar and screw the band on until snug but not tight.
With the jar tongs arrange jars in the canner so that they are evenly spaced and not touching each other.  Some canners have enough room for two layers of pint jars, other canners are only tall enough for one layer of jars.
Add water to the canner until it is two inches up the side of the jars. Do Not Fill  The Canner With Water!! Put the lid on so that it locks tight and turn the heat to medium high. Leave the weight off of the canner spout and wait for the steam to start pouring out of the spout. It must spew a solid stream of steam for 10 minutes, to evacuate all the air from the canner, then put the weight on the spout and watch carefully as the psi climbs.

When the pressure approaches 10 psi, lower the heat. Adjust the heat until the canner stays consistently at 10 psi. Set a timer for 1 hour and 15 minutes for pints and 1hour 30 minutes for quarts, and watch to make sure that the canner does not go above 10 psi or drop below it. Be careful to not let the temp. go below 10 psi, if it does no matter where you are in the process, you will have to set the timer to 1 hour and 15 minutes again. This is crucial so please watch your psi gauge carefully. Once the time is up turn the heat off under the canner and let it cool completely. Do not take the weight off the spout until the gauge reads zero and the pressure stopper drops, if you do the steam may give you a serious burn and all the liquid will be siphoned out of your jars.  Do not try to cool the canner by running water over it or putting cold rags on it, just let the temperature come down on its own.
 Once the pressure stopper has dropped and the pressure gauge reads zero, it is safe to open the canner. Please be cautious, there will still be steam in the canner. Lift the jars out of the canner using the jar tongs. Do not tip the jars, pull them straight up and out, any water on the lid will run down through the lid band and down the side of the jar so put a towel on the surface where you will be placing the jars. The contents will be boiling inside the jar for awhile, so don't disturb them until the jars are cool. You will know the jars have sealed when you hear a metallic pop, and the center of the jars are pulled down tight. If you press in the center of the lid and it can be pressed down and pops back up then the lid did not seal. Test all the lids and if any of them didn't seal refrigerate them and use them within a few days. If the lids are sealed, remove the bands, then wipe the jars with a soapy cloth, dry them and write the contents of the jars and the date on the lids.

  That is all that there is to it! With just a few hours of intermittent attention, you can have a shelf full of tasty ready to eat beans, waiting for you to use in your kitchen creations!  As always I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave me a comment!

This post is linked to:

Clever Chick Blog Hop 129
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