So totally up my alley!
Especially when I’ve been pondering things that I probably ought to have known, and well – just really didn’t!
Do you ever just buy stuff because you always have?
Does it ever rock your world when it occurs to you that you can make it at home – better, and more often than not – WAY cheaper?
Ugh! I hate that I’m such a consumer sometimes!
So… Some time ago I came across a great post over at Foodie With Family about a copy cat barbeque bean recipe. For canned barbeque beans. Said beans – according to all who have tried them – will turn all consumers into diehard fans for ever more. I read that post and recipe and suddenly the light bulb went on!
I can buy dry beans in the bulk foods section and can beans until my little heart’s content!
I love beans.
I put them in soups…
I put them in salads…
I put them in stews…
I put them in chili…
They’re packed with tons of great stuff for you.
And I carefully monitor all of the grocery adds to see when my favorite canned beans go on sale – cause they’re not cheap! And I’m not just gonna throw a buck a can at them without thinking it through.
Especially when said beans cost me $0.49 (yes, that says forty-nine cents) a pound on sale this week in bulk foods!
I’m SO canning beans, people!
Being a bit unsure how my experiment with canning dried beans would turn out I hit the net and did lots of reading. You know what? There are LOTS of different opinions out there on how it ought to be done. But I chose to stick with a method from my Grammy’s 1926 cookbook, which followed closely to the Ball Blue Book. I then went to the bulk foods section at the grocery store and choose about a pound of several different types of beans…
Black eyed peas
Small red beans
All tolled – given the price differentials – this about 5 pounds-ish of beans cost me about $5. I happen to have an embarrassment of riches in the canning jar/lid/ring department (Freecycle rocks!) – so no outlay of cash there. The biggest thing required? Time.
It all started last night – yes, I confess, I was still up at midnight putting said beans in bowls, filling them with water, and then covering them with plastic wrap. (Yeah, that took all of about 5 minutes – so totally not the reason I was up way too late!) These babies need to soak anywhere from 8 to 18 hours – depending on who you believe. My Ball Blue Book said 12 hours, so I went with that.
A little after noon – after I’d done dishes, and sanitized the kitchen, I set my big kettle and a saucepan to boiling.
The big kettle holds the clean canning jars, the saucepan holds the clean lids and rings. See?
Pretty much, all you gotta do from this point in time is…
Rinse the beans… You discard the liquid they’ve been soaking in, pick through and make sure you get out any discolored beans or debris that might have made it through the packing process before being marketed.
I dumped the beans from the bowl with water into a colander over the kitchen sink. Then transferred the beans back to the bowl they’d soaked in (after giving it a quick rinse), and rinsed again with cold water. Drained once again with the colander. At that point I place the colander on top of the now empty bowl, and transfer over to my work area adjacent to the stove.
Then it was time to pack the jars…
I pull a few jars out of the boiling water and put the funnel on the jar closest to the bowl of beans. These puppies are HOT – so I use silicone wrapped tongs to work with them, it’s so much easier!
I got about 1 1/2 cups of beans per pint jar. I pulled out my electronic scale to check out how it weighed in. Just bean weight – roughly 9 ounces – within about an eighth of an ounce. The important thing here is to be certain to maintain an inch head space on the jars.
Now you put 1/2 a teaspoon of salt in each jar.
And then you fill each jar with boiling water – again, maintaining that 1 inch head space.
It’s important to get rid of air pockets that may be stuck in the jar. I pull out a handy dandy chop stick and gently stir to dislodge any air. If the volume is significantly affected, then I top off with additional boiling water.
Now all you do is wipe the rims and tops of each jar, and then put the lid and band on!
We’re fortunate enough to have a 23-Quart Pressure Canner (and yes these MUST be pressure canned!) – so I packed it with the beans… It’s important to make sure you get the right amount of water in the base of the canner, too. Mine calls for 3 quarts (12 cups) of hot water. And you GOTTA have the insert in the base of the canner, too. You don’t want exploding canning jars going on, right?!
That’s two layers of pint jars in there. When you do two layers of jars like this, it’s important to use another insert between the layers. I also stagger the jars so that no jar is sitting directly over another one.
That middle jar up there- it’s a “mix” jar. I do this when I’m making jams and jellies, too. Does it ever just bug you that you never have an exact right amount – always a little too much or not quite enough? I just keep an extra jar on hand and fill it with the leftovers. Life goes on, you know? And I’ll always use them.
Once you get the canner loaded, you put the lid on and put the heat on the eye on high. You want the steam to start to build up in there. Once steam is built up enough to be exiting the vent, set a timer for 10 minutes. When that 10 minutes are up, place the regulator on the vent tube.
Pressure needs to build to 10 pounds, and pint jars need 70 minutes at that pressure.
It’s really important to set a timer when you’re doing these stages. It’s just too easy to get sidetracked and lose track, and when you’re working with a pressure canner – NOT okay.
Once the 70 minutes is up, you remove the pressure canner from the heat, making sure it’s resting somewhere on a level surface. I had John move it to the dining room table (with appropriate heat pads underneath, of course). It took about 45 minutes for the temperature to drop and the steam to release.
All-in-all, probably one of the easiest canning projects I’ve ever tackled.
For my $5 investment in beans I’ve got
6 pints of black eyed peas
4 pints of small red beans
4 pints of black beans
5 pints of navy beans
5 pints of garbanzo beans
Not bad. Not bad at all!
This will definitely NOT be the last time I can my own beans! In fact, I think I’m giving up store bought beans from here on out!
Now – I’m off to finish up canning the yams the gleaners dropped off for me this afternoon. An unexpected blessing!