Since I was a child, my favorite vegetables has been green beans. The green beans were always fresh from the garden, or some that Nanny and Mom had canned. Of course, we cooked them the good old-fashioned way – with ham or bacon and onions for flavoring. Oh, and sometimes new potatoes! They were delicious. Then one day, something was different. The beans on my plate were bright “fake” green. They felt a little too firm and they didn’t have the flavor I was used to. I asked my mom what happened to the green beans and she explained that she’d run out of home canned green beans and these were frozen beans from the grocery store. I immediately dubbed them “plastic green beans” – and I would eat them, but they were not my favorite. From then on, when I saw green beans on the table I’d ask my mom if they were “real” or “plastic”. So this year when my green bean plants did really well, and then I was gifted with a bunch more from a sweet friend, I knew it was time to try my hand at canning. My mom brought over Nanny’s old canner and explained the process, and the next weekend, I canned my first green beans. Here is how it went (and how you too can have “real” green beans!).
DISCLAIMER: This is how my grandmother canned green beans. My family has used this method for well over 60 years without problems. However, it may not be precisely to the directions you find elsewhere. RMCS is not responsible for accidents or spoilage. Please check official canning instructions at the Ball website if you have any concerns about the safety of these instructions.
I used an outdoor propane stove, since I have a glass cooktop and you can’t use a canner on them. It was also great to keep the heat out of the house. But please be aware, if you plan to do this, you need a good propane stove that will allow you to adjust the heat in small increments. Here in Oklahoma it is also good to place the stove somewhere that it is protected from the wind and watch for fire hazards.
- Pick or buy fresh green beans. If you can’t can them right away, keep them in the refrigerator sealed in a plastic bag to keep in the moisture. Don’t wash them and try to can them as soon as possible.
- Wash your beans right before canning. Just let them soak in a pan of water for a few minutes and the dirt will fall to the bottom. Then drain and rinse them and soak again.
- Snap your beans in about 2″ pieces. If the beans are fresh they will break with a satisfying “SNAP”. Discard the ends and put the snapped beans in a colander.
- Give the snapped beans one last rinse. Then put them in a pot and cover them with water.
- Fill your canner with about 4″ of water and put it on the fire to heat. Start another pot of water to heat jars and lids (not quite boiling). Turn on beans and bring them just to a boil, then turn off.
- Dunk clean jars in hot water and set them on the counter to fill while you drop in the lids. You’re not sanitizing the jars, just heating them so they don’t crack when you add the hot beans.
- Fill each jar with beans to about 2 inches from the top, then use juice to fill up to the bottom rim (just below the threads). Add 1 tsp salt to each jar.
- Dry off the top edge of the jar and the threads, then set a hot lid on each one (lid doesn’t need to be dry). Screw on the ring.
- Place jars gently in canner (canner does not need to be full of jars – and water does not need to cover jars as in water bath canning) and put on the canner lid. Do not put the weight on yet.
- When water is boiling, steam will escape from the vent. Check that no steam is escaping around the lid seal. If it is, the canner is not sealed properly and you should start over. BE CAREFUL! Improperly sealed pressure canners can be dangerous!
- Allow the steam to vent for 10 minutes before putting on the weight.
- Watch the pressure guage. You want 10 pounds of pressure (higher altitudes need higher pressure – here is a chart). Adjust heat to maintain this pressure for 25 minutes. (If you let the pressure drop, you must bring it back up and start timing over again)
- After 25 minutes, turn off the heat. When pressure has returned to -0- you can CAREFULLY remove the lid. Steam will escape, don’t get burned.
- Gently remove the jars and place them upside down on a towel in a draft free area where they can remain undisturbed overnight.
- The next day, turn over the jars and check the seal by pressing the center of the lid. If the lid flexes and you hear a ‘pop’ that jar did not seal properly. Refrigerate or use those beans right away.
- Well sealed jars can be kept in the pantry and will be good for several years (but I’m sure you’ll eat them before that). If you are putting jars from this years canning with jars from last years (or earlier) be sure to mark with dates and use oldest jars first.
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