My 30 Year Old Beans

My beans are so old only a pressure cooker can make them tender.  Here are instructions for canning/bottling beans. 

Pressure Canning Legumes
Guidelines for healthy eating recommend 1/2 cup of beans five times a week. 
Winter is a good time to can beans and meat since the summer produce is all put up. 

Instructions for a 22 quart pressure canner


Pressure canner with inside rack--check to make sure the gasket is in good condition
7 quart clean canning jars, with no cracks or chips
Bands and new, unused lids, with no nicks
Clean towels
Large saucepan
Teakettle or pot for boiling water and ladle
Measuring teaspoon and cups
Wooden spoon or flat plastic spatula (not metal)

Lid lifter (optional)
Jar lifter (optional)
Dry beans-  Larger beans like kidney use 9 cups,  small beans like navy and red use 10 cups.  (There are about 7 oz in one cup of small beans.)

Preparing the beans

If necessary, wash and sort beans, picking out any rocks or dirt clumps.  Remove any soft, diseased or spotted beans. 

Soak the beans.  This hydrates them and releases the sugar (oligosaccharides) that causes gas.  Place beans in a large pot and cover the beans with water.  For one pound of beans you will need 6-8 cups of water.  (About 3 cups of water for one cup of beans.) Add salt if desired. Soak for 12-18 hours.  Drain the beans, discarding the water, and rinse beans well.   (My beans are so old I soak them 3 times and it helps control flatulence.)  Tip from Debbie Kent:  Soaking them in the fridge keeps them from souring. 

For a quick soak, cover the beans with water add salt if desired and boil for 2 minutes.  Cover with a lid.  Let stand one hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

 For this recipe, you may need to use 2 large pots putting half the beans in each and adding 4 quarts of water to each pot.

A most sensible tactic involves a lengthy soaking, and was developed some years ago by the California Dry Bean Advisory Board. For each pound of dried beans, use ten or more cups of boiling water. Boil for two to three minutes, cover, and set the beans aside overnight. This initial boiling breaks down the cell membranes of the beans, releasing the oligosaccharides so they can dissolve into the soaking water. Just make sure you discard the soaking water!

Getting ready to pressure can

After the final rinse, rinse out the bean pot as well.  Place beans back in the pot and cover with fresh water.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes.  (New recommendation is 30 mins. You can cold pack but not recommended.  Do not pack jars as tightly when cold packing.)  Turn off burner. 

Meanwhile, do all of the following:

Boil the lids and bands for 2 minutes and keep warm

Bring water to a boil in a pot or a teakettle.  (A completely full teakettle is just enough for this recipe.)  You will need about 2 1/2-3 quarts of water.

Place canning rack in canner and add 2 quarts of water.  If desired, add 1 T. vinegar or 1 t. cream of tartar to help prevent water stains in canner.  Place canner on stove and turn on burner on medium low.  The point is to warm up the water so the jars don’t crack when you put them in but not to boil away the water.  The water should just be kept warm. 

Warm the jars by placing in the sink and filling each one with very hot water. 

Filling the jars

Drain the hot beans.  Pour out the hot water in the jars.  Fill the jars with hot beans leaving one inch head space.  Place one teaspoon of salt in each jar.  Pour or ladle boiling water over the beans leaving one inch head space.  After filling jars with beans, release air bubbles by inserting a flat plastic (not metal) spatula or the handle of a wooden spoon between the food and the jar. Slowly turn the jar and move the spatula up and down to allow air bubbles to escape. Clean the jar rim (sealing surface) with a dampened paper towel. Place the lid, gasket down, onto the cleaned jar-sealing surface. Uncleaned jar-sealing surfaces may cause seal failures.  Fit the metal screw band over the flat lid.

Pressure canning the beans
Place the 7 jars in the warm water in the canner.  Secure and lock the lid.  Place on the burner and turn the heat to high.  Some electric stoves may have a special canning burning that sits up higher so as not to crack the stove top. 
Let the canner vent for a full 10 minutes (set a timer).  Place the weight on for 10 or 15 pounds of pressure.  Keep heating until the weight rocks vigorously.  
SLOWLY reduce the heat until the weight rocks 4 times per minute.  (Just a little bit at a time. Turn it down just a tad every few minutes.) If the heat is reduced too fast, the pressure drops too fast and the liquid will all flow out of the jars.  Also, prevent drafts from blowing over canner. 
My beans are so hard I cook them for 2 hours.  Otherwise, cook for 1 1/2 hours. 

When the beans are done, slowly reduce the heat.  Leave the canner alone until it is completely cool and the lid has unlocked.  This could take up to an hour.  You can test if the pressure is down by gently nudging the control.  If steam spurts out, the pressure is not yet down.

Once that has occurred, take off the weight and carefully remove the cover.  You can take out the jars.  They may still be hot!  Use a jar lifter or hot pad.  Be careful where you place them.  If they are hot and you place them on a cold surface they will crack.  Place on a cooling rack or several layers of cloth.   The best thing is to just let them stay in the canner until they are completely cool.

Do not retighten lids after processing jars.
As jars cool, the contents in the jar contract, pulling the self-sealing lid firmly against the jar to form a high vacuum. If rings are too loose, liquid may escape from jars during processing, and seals may fail. If rings are too tight, air cannot vent during processing, and food will discolor during storage. Overtightening also may cause lids to buckle and jars to break, especially with raw-packed, pressure-processed food.

Screw bands are not needed on stored jars. They can be removed easily after jars are cooled. When removed, washed, dried, and stored in a dry area, screw bands may be used many times. If left on stored jars, they become difficult to remove, often rust, and may not work properly again.

Let them sit for 12 hours.  Check to see if they are all sealed.  Press the middle of the lid with a finger or thumb. If the lid springs up when you release your finger, the lid is unsealed.  Refrigerate any unsealed jars.  Once they are opened they only last about 1 week in the refrigerator.  Be sure to check the seal again on the jar before you open and use the beans. 

Tip from Cook's Illustrated
, the magazine that produces America's Test Kitchen.
Their tests confirmed that boiling beans in salted water makes them undercook, because salted water prevents some of the starch granules from bursting. However, they found that soaking the beans in salted water, then boiling in fresh water, confined the salt's effect to the outside of the beans, mostly just the skin. They say that during soaking, the sodium replaces some of the calcium and magnesium ions in the skins, and sodium is a weaker ion that allows more water to penetrate the skin, which makes the skins softer.  They recommend 3T salt in 4q water for 1lb beans. Soak them for 8 hours for a creamier texture or bring to a boil and soak 

1 hour.  The bottom line: salt beans before, but not during cooking.  They also recommend cooking the beans at a near-simmer in a low oven if you want the fewest burst beans.

A good resource:  “Country Beans” by Rita Bingham 

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