We use a lot of beans in our menu. They are economical and tasty. Our favorite beans are pinto beans. I used to cook a big pot of beans for hours and then freeze them for future meals. The problem was that to use them I would actually have to plan ahead so I could defrost them before dinner.
Then I bought a pressure cooker. I could cook my beans in a fraction of time. But the pressure cooker was smaller than my big bean pot. Still I had to freeze the extra beans. Now I have a pressure CANNER and I am able to can my beans and store them on my pantry shelves. No more having to plan ahead, I have the convenience of ready to use beans. I just can several quarts about every 4-6 weeks. In addition, I know exactly what is in them and I can season them the way I want. They are quite possibly the easiest things to can also.
I pick through the beans and remove everything that I find questionable like this stuff:
My personal preference is to discard any bean that are not intact. It seems to me that broken beans are exposed to more contaminants and are harder to clean. I don’t know how factual that is but I’m not taking any chances. Anyway, beans are cheap!
I wash the sorted beans thoroughly.
I put about two inches of water in my big pressure canner. Conveniently , it has a raised mark inside for exactly how much water to put in.
I put the jar lids that I plan to use in a small pot with water to heat. These lids are called Tattler lids and they are the bomb. I have used them for a couple of years and although there is a slight learning curve to finding the exact way to tighten the lids, they work perfectly when used properly. There is an initial expense but they are reusable, as in over and over, and have no waste.
I guess I should say that I use the beans without presoaking them, something I had to do when I conventional or pressure cooked them. Now, I’ve read online recently that beans have something called phytotoxins that will kill me if I don’t presoak them and discard the soaking water. I have never done that and not only am I still alive, but so are my hubby, three kids and grandkids, all of whom have eaten my home cooked beans. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
I add one cup of the rinsed, dry beans, about and eighth of an onion, a tablespoon of minced garlic and a bit of salt to each quart. I just put the entire chunk of onion in the jar because it will disintegrate when I use the beans but will leave its flavor behind.
I add water to within one inch of the rim. I just use tap water. I could use boiling water and lessen the heating time for the canner but I find it efficient enough to just use tap water. I can pick the jars up with my bare hands for the next part.
I carefully wipe the rim of each filled jar, put the rubber ring and lid on and screw it on with a metal ring. I put each filled jar into the canner. I make sure that there is a rack in the bottom of the canner before putting the jars in. The jars may heat unevenly or crack if they sit directly on the bottom of the pot. My canner holds 7 quarts and works well on my glass top stove. I put the cover on the pot and raise the heat to high.
I made some little videos of the pressure canner at work and how the jars are when removed, but I can’t upload them to this blog unless I upgrade, which is not within our budget. So still photos it is! You can click on any of my photos to enlarge them.
After all of the jars are in the filled and in the canner, I put the lid on without the weight. I raise the heat until steam comes out of the center of the lid. I allow the steam to evacuate for 10 minutes then I put on the weight. I use a ten pound weight because we are at sea level. If you are at a different altitude, check with The USDA food preservation website for the correct guidelines. While you are there check out the wealth of canning information!
After ten minutes, I put on my weight and keep the temperature on high until it begins to rock back and forth. Then I lower the heat until the weight rocks smoothly back and for at a moderate speed. I set my timer for 90 minutes because I can my pinto beans in quart jars. I can other beans like black, red or kidney beans in pint jars for 75 minutes. But the process is basically the same. I just like having leftover pinto beans for lunch so I make a bigger jar.
After 90 minutes, I turn off the heat BUT I do not open the canner UNTIL the pressure valve (that’s the thing in the bottom of the picture above) drops of its own accord. Just turn off the heat and walk away until you hear the valve drop. THEN remove the weight and open the canner, tipping the lid AWAY from you. There will be a lot of hot steam inside. Use canning tongs to remove the jars and set them on a heatproof mat. The jars will continue to boil on the counter for 45 to 60 minutes. I made a video of that too, however…
So here’s a photo of the jars just out of the canner instead:
As soon as I remove them from the canner if they have the Tattler lids I tighten the metal rings. If they have metal lids I just leave them alone. I leave them for about 12 hours to cool and stabilize. Then I remove the rings, wash the rings and jars, label them and store them in my pantry.
You may notice that the headspace above the beans has increased. That’s okay, the beans have absorbed most of the liquid. As long as the jar is sealed it is fine. If you are interested in how I pressure can chicken check it out here.
All of this sounds complicated and intimidating, but after you have done it once, it is easy. Canning beans is one of the best economies there is. Beans are really cheap and nutritious. Having them ready to serve in the pantry makes it so easy to incorporate more beans in the everyday diet. Have I done a good enough job of convincing you yet?