Every year, the garden seems to have a different vegetable star.
Last summer was deemed the summer of tomatoes and pinto beans. I had so many tomatoes, I ended up picking them straight from the garden, bagging them in Ziploc bags and tossing them in the freezer. I did the same with the beans. By the end of summer, I had about 15 one gallon bags of tomatoes and a couple of gallon bags of pinto beans in the freezer.
I’ve finally got the tomatoes canned (post on this later) and this weekend seemed like a good time to take care of the beans.
If you’ve never used a pressure cooker/canner before, be sure to look through the book that came with the cooker before starting. Another book I refer to all the time is the Ball Blue Book Guide for Canning.
In the recipes, you will see directions such as, process pints for 40 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. To know what pressure you need, my cooker (which is really, really old) has this on top of the lid.
You will have a guide in your canning book that will break this down for you.
I took the beans out of the freezer a couple of days ago, (I’m not sure if they actually needed to thaw or not. I mainly did it as a reminder so I wouldn’t forget to soak them overnight.)
I ‘ve figured out over the years that 9 cups of dried beans will yield about 14-15 pints of beans or 3 cookers full. So, I measured out the beans, placed them in a large stockpot and covered them with cold water. Cover the pot and let them sit on top of the stove for 12-18 hours.
After they’ve soaked overnight, drain the water from the beans, rinse, and place back in the stockpot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for 30 minutes.
During this time, get your jars, lids, and caps ready. I like to put my jars in the dishwasher to clean, sterilize them, and keep them hot. By the time the jars are going through the dry cycle, the beans are usually done cooking.
You can also place the jars in large pan of water and heat.
I’ve also warmed them in the microwave, too. The point is they need to be very warm so the jars don’t bust when hot beans go in.
Put the lids and caps in a pan of water and heat.
When everything is ready to go, get a hot jar and place 1/2 tsp. canning salt in the bottom of the jar.
Place a funnel (optional, but helpful) on top of the jar and pour in beans.
No broth at this point, just beans.
When the jar is full of beans, pour in the liquid leaving about 1 inch of space (this is called headspace).
Next, remove any air bubbles in the jar using a butter knife or something similar.
This is done by inserting the knife on all four “sides” of the jar and then right in the middle.
Wipe the rim of the jar with a damp cloth or paper towel.
Remove a lid from the hot water using this magnetic tool
and place on the rim of the jar.
Remove a cap from the hot water (with the same tool) and screw tightly on the jar.
Place the jar in the pressure canner that has about 2 inches of water in the bottom.
Make sure the jars are not touching each other or the sides of the cooker
Put the lid on the cooker and secure.
Turn on the heat. When the psi indicator starts to “hiss” at a steady rate (this takes about 15 minutes to happen), begin to time. It will sound like this:
For pinto beans, the instructions say to process for 1 hour 15 minutes at 10 psi. Set the timer. That’s a long time (for me) and I tend to get started on other things and lose track of time. I usually set the timer on the oven and my phone.
When the time is up, turn off the heat and let the cooker cool down. Don’t move the cooker at this point. You will not be able to open the lid until the pressure is down and this will take about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, gently try to open the lid. If it doesn’t give, leave it for a few more minutes and try again. When the pressure is down, it will open easily.
Take out the beans with your jar gripper
The next day, check the tops by running your finger across the top. If you can push the lid down and it pops back, the jar didn’t seal and you need to put it in the refrigerator and eat within a couple of days. If the lid does not pop back, your jars have sealed and you can put them in the cupboard or pantry.
Allen is always giving me a hard time about canning. He reminds me I could buy a can of beans for $.50 and wouldn’t have to spend the whole day canning.
That’s true, but I don’t mind spending a snowy day in the kitchen.
And, I figure if I go to all the trouble to have fresh food in the summer, the least I can do is enjoy it in the winter. I love being able to come home, open a jar, heat it up, make a pan of cornbread and have a meal in 30 minutes or less. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
The pinto beans I use are the Lina Sisco Bird Egg bean that I’ve talked about here. Super easy to grow, easy to harvest, and easy to preserve either at the time you pick them or in the dead of winter.
Who’s looking forward to spring?