Monday, March 7, 2016

Canning Series - Beans

I've lately been going through the recipes stored on my computer.  I am a recipe junkie, so there are lots of them.  But I need to get realistic about them, so I am discarding those that might sound wonderful but require extra shopping for ingredients that I ordinarily would not have in my pantry and those that are fiddly to make.  I don't do fiddly.

So I thought I might share some of the recipes I have used and found to be good, starting with the canning recipes.  Some of you are experienced home canners, but I find there are many who fear the process.  I think this fear comes from the horror stories about Grandma blowing up her pressure canner which resulted in needing a new roof put on the house.  I'm here to tell you that in the 55 years I have been canning food, I have never known anyone who blew up a pressure canner.  It is just a matter of following the instructions to the letter.  There are safety features built into pressure canners, like the rubber plug in the lid that will blow out should the pressure inside the canner reach unsafe levels, bringing the pressure down long before the lid blows off.  That's not to say there isn't a learning curve.  There is, but it isn't rocket science.  It is mostly common sense.

There are many reasons to home can.  If you are able to have a garden, canning is a good way to preserve the harvest.  Those who can't garden, like myself, can find good, locally grown food at Farmer's Markets, where I get most of the fruit and some of the vegetable I can.  I have also canned frozen vegetables from the grocery.  I buy them when they go on sale.  This makes sense for me.  It is easier for me to store vegetables in jars.  I can them in pint and half pint jars, so there is no waste.  Those with larger families can process vegetables in quart jars.  And my freezer space is then available for other things and I can stock up without worrying about freezer burn.

I have noticed that cans of pork and beans from the grocery have changed somewhat.  Some companies have kept the price the same but have made the cans smaller.  Others have reduced the amount of beans in the can but have added more sauce.  By canning my own, I get the taste of home baked pork and beans and I know just how much is in each jar.  Here are the recipes I have used with good results.

Pork and Beans to Can

2 qts. dried navy or other smaller beans
1 lb. ham, cut into about one inch pieces*
6 large onions, diced (3 onions were enough for me)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. dry mustard
1 1/3 cups molasses

Sort beans, rinse, then cover with 6 quarts fresh water.  Let stand overnight in a cool place and then drain.  Cover beans with 6 quarts water in large stockpot. Bring to boil and then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until skins begin to crack. Drain, reserving liquid. Pour beans into a very large baking dish.  I use a turkey roaster pan.  Add ham, and remaining ingredients and 8 cups reserved liquid. Ladle sauce over beans.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 3 hours. During baking, add water or cooking liquid as needed.  You want them a bit watery. Pack hot beans and sauce into hot jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace.  De-bubble jars, wipe the rims with  damp paper towel or cloth and add lids and rings.  Process pints for 80 minutes and quarts for 95 minutes at 10 pounds pressure, or at the pressure recommended for your altitude.

*Some use pieces of fried bacon or salt pork.  Others may have found this satisfactory, but it has been my experience that bacon gets sort of limp and a bit slimy when canned with beans.  Ham adds flavor but retains its texture.

Easy Canned Pork and Beans

2 lbs. of dried Navy Beans

6 cups water
1 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp.ground mustard
1 Tbsp. salt

Put dried beans in a large pot and cover well with water.  Bring to a boil and cook for 1 hour.  Keep water level deep enough to keep the beans covered. Turn off heat and let soak for 2 hours.  Drain and rinse the beans in a colander.  Divide the beans into canning jars filling the jars about 2/3 full of the beans.


Mix all ingredients together and heat well to dissolve the brown sugar.  Pour over the beans in the jars, leaving 1 inch head space below the jar rims.  Run a table knife or wooden spoon handle through the beans to get rid of any air bubbles and to distribute the sauce evenly.  Wipe the jar rims and add lids and rings.

Process in a pressure canner.  Pint jars are processed for 65 minutes. Quart jars are processed for 75 minutes.

This recipe will make about 20 pints of beans.

Canning Dry Beans
(This recipe from Jackie Clay at Backwoods Home Magazine)

"Dry beans are very handy, canned up, as you don’t have to soak them overnight or cook them for lengthy periods to eat them. All dry beans are canned the same way. I first boil my dry beans in plenty of water and let them sit for 2 hours. Then I pack them and process them as usual. This means heat the beans and liquid to boiling, then drain, saving liquid. Pack jars 3/4 full with hot beans, add small pieces of fried lean bacon or ham, if desired, then fill with hot cooking liquid, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Process pints for 75 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes. — Jackie"

I have used all three of these recipes with success.  Hope you find them helpful.


  1. Hello. Saw the title of this post and grabbed my notebook to write down the recipes. Still have to get my pressure cooker off the shelf and in use. These recipes might just get me there.
    I used to save recipes to my computer but found using a notebook actually works better for me. I'm with you - I'm not a fiddly cook either. But when I had a houseful, no one walked away hungry. That was for sure. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC

  2. Hi, SJ...That's what I hoped for when starting this series - that it might inspire some to do a little canning.
    Computers eventually die, so I'm trying to get the recipes transferred either to recipe cards or put into a binder. If the elec. grid ever goes down, it would be pretty tough to retrieve them from any computer, even with backup. I feel better with having them on paper.
    I have all the patience in the world, fiddling with little bits of fabric for a quilt or little bits of paper for a scrapbook, but nearly none for fiddly cooking. Or canning. I tend to stick with the recipes that are fairly simple. I guess that holds true with the way I live my life - keep it simple. :)

  3. Yes it is, Gorges. Very little drama. Lots of smiles. :)

  4. Sounds good, although I can see it would be the sort of thing you would need most of the day to accomplish. I'm hoping to can a bunch of green beans this summer, if the garden does well.

  5. Lisa...Canning does take time. It is not something that can be rushed. But the results are so worth it. Good luck with your garden this summer. I hope you have lots of vegetables to process.

  6. looking forward to this series. we who are not experienced need simply done recipes.

  7. deb...The whole idea was to encourage those who haven't as yet taken the plunge, and for those who have, to offer some easy recipes that have worked for me. I can do a post telling about canning 20 pints of this and 30 pints of that, but if I don't include how, the information is of no use to anyone wanting to give it a go. I try to keep things as simple as possible. In all areas of my life. :)