REAL Canned Beans


I got a tip from another blogger about this great Blog Carnival going over at girlichef featuring REAL food.   And Diana has launched Simple Lives Thursday at her blog.

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

Black beans

Navy beans

Garbanzo 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.

The unveiling….

Pretty, huh?

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!

22 thoughts on “REAL Canned Beans

  1. Hi Dina! SOOO glad you could join us on the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! I loved this article! I am a huge canner and I have canning envy of your pressure canner! One of these days I will get one. A side note though, you CAN can beans just the same and not pressure can them, but put them in the fridge and they will last for quite a long time IF when you soak them you add in a few drops of grapefruit seed extract. I do love home canned beans! Will be following your lovely blog and look forward to getting to know you! Alex@amoderatelife

    • Hey Alex, thanks so much! I’m loving this Blog Carnival! You guys are brilliant for thinking it up!

      Oh – I used to be *terrified* of pressure canning – now I can’t imagine my life without it! It just opens up so many amazing and wonderful opportunities! And it saves SO MUCH time and effort!

      We used to do some of the canned, BWB, and then fridge stuff… but now that my kids are older (all three are teenagers) I just never have room in the fridge! Hence my love affair with the pressure canner! 🙂 Thanks for pointing that out though – maybe some will be able to give it a go with that method! Great thinking!

  2. Of course! Why didn’t I ever think of this? 🙂 I can our green beans every year from our garden. This canning of dry beans is a wonderful idea, since we go through so many each month! I love it – thanks for posting. I’m going to have to do this … and what is also really great about this – I can do it year round!

    • Jules – I know! Right?! You can totally can these year round. Not just on days when it’s already 80 degrees outside and 95 degrees inside because you’re canning! 🙂

      I’m really excited about the possibilites. We make a five bean chili that I’m thinking I can put in a quart jar and turn out fabulous… So many options!

  3. NICE!! You totally rocked the kitchen with this one! Seriously, how amazing…you say it’s basic, but I’ve NEVER canned beans. Sure, I cook ’em and freeze ’em and refrigerate them, but pressure canning scares the bejeezus out of me. Plus, I don’t actually own a pressure canner. But your post is a total inspiration to me…honestly. When you decide to step out of the shadows, you do it in a BIG way, dontcha 😉 LOL!! I’m so happy you’ve joined us at Two for Tuesdays, Dina!

    • Hey Heather! Thanks for stopping by!

      We do some serious green bean canning around here. I try to grow and can our entire year’s needs worth each year. Last year the deer beat me to the beans, tho. (I will admit to thinking some very un-ladylike thoughts about them!)

      And pressure canning – honestly – a total breeze. Do you use a pressure cooker at home at all? I wouldn’t be caught dead without mine – oh, the amazing wonderful things you can make with one! Once you get the basics of a regular pressure cooker down, the pressure canner is a no-brainer!

  4. I can all sorts of things, but I’m still afraid of using a pressure canner. I know that they’re safe these days, but I still recall my gran’s story about hers exploding. I need to just do it. I’m going to have a ton of green beans from the garden this year. Maybe I should get my feet wet doing dry beans. My neighbor is forever offering to let me borrow his pressure canner. Thank you for sharing at Two for Tuesdays.

    • I actually lived through a pressure cooker explosion once – my Mom was making beef stew. (Still creeped out about being beef stew coated… wasn’t a fabulous thing!) I don’t know what the heck went wrong – but something sure did…. Of course, this was something like 40 years ago and pressure cookers and canners have come a long way, baby!

      Go for it with the green beans! You can do it! I know you can! (And Lord bless that sweet neighbor! How cool is that?!)

      …and btw, I totally agree on the egg white omlette thing – *shudder*

  5. A 23 Quart pressure canner! I didn’t know you could buy such a thing. How great is that especially when you need to pressure them for 70 minutes?

    I love this idea. Never thought to can beans.

    • Bonnie, honestly – it’s a thing of beauty…. And… :blush: I actually have TWO of them. When one comes across one marked down to 50% off, and then has an additional 25% off coupon – well, it would be criminal to pass it by, especially when you’ve wistfully dreamed of having TWO pressure canners running at the same time to speed things up! I’m so spoiled!

  6. What a wonderful return on your $5 – beans, beans, beans! I don’t have a pressure canner (or even a non pressure canner -does it have a name??) but seeing how you did it makes me want one.
    thanks for linking to Two for Tuesdays!

    • Hi Christy! 🙂

      The non-pressure canner is simply a boiling water bath. It’s just a big pot with a wire frame inside it that keeps the jars from sitting on the bottom (and potentially cracking or exploding!) and a lid. Most are an old fashioned blue with spatter type pattern on them. Like this:

      You use a boiling water bath process for foods that are high acid (and thus harmful bacteria should not become an issue – acidic environment, heated to boiling to kill organisms, sealed in an air-tight container); lower acid foods are canned with a pressure canner because of the lower acidity level and need to assure that harmful bacteria have been eliminated. Make sense?

      We do lots of canning here at our house. There is something really beautiful about being able to take the berries you picked that morning, process them into jam, jelly, syrup or the like and have them canned and on the shelf by the end of the day. The fact that they taste amazing and will last up to a couple of years doesn’t hurt. (Of course, they never make it a couple of years – too many eager consumers!) 🙂

  7. I’m a beginning canner (and loving every second of it). Thanks for a very informative post. I’m shying away from pressure canning (thinking it’s for pros), but you’ve inspired me to be on the lookout for one at Goodwill, Craigslist or Freecycle! I’d love to try this out!

    • Adrienne, welcome to the canning waters… it’s great fun – but warning – totally addictive! So totally right – watch every sale and keep an eye out on Craigslist and Freecycle both. About five years ago an older lady freecycled her 50+year stash of canning supplies to *me* – I still get a little teary eyed when I think about it. She was a total doll and thrilled that someone was willing to use them.

      And I was afraid of the pressure canner at first, too. My husband is actually the pro on that front – he grew up with Mom, aunts, cousins, etc. all pros at it and so he got to observe lots of great stuff. He’s incredible!

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Dina, this is great! I’ve never canned beans before. I love this idea as I usually freeze mine, however as my deep freeze gets filled, it would be so much more convenient to can them! I need a pressure cooker and some lessons 😉

    Thanks for joining in on Simple Lives Thursday 😀

    • Hey Diana! Yeah – same – our freezers just fill up too quickly. And I don’t know – there’s just this fabulous thing about canning your fresh produce. Yes, some things fare far better in the freezer (like the pea pods I picked the other day) – but I love my fresh picked green beans that are home canned better than any other. I’m just so thankful to find a new way to enrich our pantry stores with such a simple and affordable thing!

  9. Dina love this! I’ve been meaning to can beans but till now haven’t been able to find a good local organic source for them. I finally just did so I’ve been cooking huge pots of them. So far I’ve been freezing them but I’m running out of freezer space. One other thing I love about this is you can do it during winter once you are done processing other things that can’t wait.

    • where did you find to get beans at? I can get mine at amazing prices dry but local organic? i dont know if they are or not. i have 5 gallon buckets full of dry beans though! i just wasnt always as savvy and it can be a budget challenge when you are a newb :p so i still have all these beans!

  10. wow i so need a pressure cooker! i never tought to do this i always just store them dry! I have 5 gallon buckets full 🙂 but some of these would sure be nice on days when i forget to put something to soaking before bed! …speaking of which I hadnt planned tomorrows diner! lol you know where ill be!

    • Teri – thanks for stopping by! And may a pressure canner be in your near future! I *adore* mine and couldn’t imagine life without it. I use it – and my regular just for food pressure cooker – a ton! I’m totally forget the soak ahead thing too often – hence, the need to sing the halleujah chorus over the fact that this is such an easy thing to do! 🙂

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