CANNING: A Family Tradition
Some of my first recollections include bean breaking and canning at my grandmother’s house in the early 50’s. Sometimes there may have been 10 people or more sitting under a shade tree breaking beans. We’d sit in a circle and talk about everything under the sun while our hands were hard at work stringing and breaking all those beans. Grandma needed a lot of beans because she had 10 grown children, and their families who would often come for Sunday or Wednesday lunch.
Green beans were an important part of my grandparents’ diet. They raised those 10 children during the depression when times were hard. Because of necessity she had learned to can from her mother. Mom also canned beans for our family, but not in the huge quantity that Grandma did. So the tradition continues. And every year when canning time comes around I reminisce about grandma, granddaddy, mom, my aunts, my cousins, and myself with our tired hands breaking those beans.
Today it isn’t out of necessity, but out of wanting great tasting home grown food. I think if I figure in my time I spent fixing these beans it would break the bank. To fix 7 quarts of beans I spend probably 30 minutes picking them, 1 hour breaking them, 1 hour washing and canning them. That’s 2 1/2 hours not including plowing, planting, and weeding which my husband does. This doesn’t include the cooking utensils you need for canning.
For you people that don’t know how to can beans and want to give it a try here is my explanation of what you need and how to do it. I’ve also included the Amish way which my sister-in-law uses.
Supplies You Need to Can Green Beans
The most expensive item you’ll need to buy if you want to can green beans is a pressure canner. Mine will hold 7 quart jars or 8 pints. The jars and lids can be found in a box of 12. The jars and screw on lids are reusable, but the seals are not. I use Kosher Salt or canning salt, a strainer, measuring spoon, measuring cup, and 2 large pans not pictured. Here is a picture of canning tongs which will help you lift the jars out of the canner and keep you from burning yourself on the hot jars.
My sister in law cans her beans the Amish Way. Here’s how she does it. Wash and break the green beans. Then pack as tightly as you can in quart jars. NO WATER! Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar. Place in a cold oven. Turn temperature to 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and leave beans in oven for at least 12 hours. 18 quarts will fit in most ovens. Make sure your beans are sealed. If they aren’t throw away the beans in that jar. My sister in law has canned them this way for several years and only had 1 jar that hasn’t sealed. This method sounds a lot easier. I’ve never tried it. Note: The USDA doesn’t approve of this method.
How to Can Green Beans
You’ll need about 1/4 bushel of green beans for 1 canning. Kosher Salt, and water. I wash the beans before I break them. Then you will break off the ends of the beans. If there are strings you need to remove them. I break the beans into pieces about 3/4-1 inch long. I rinse them again a couple of times and look for bad spots that I cut off.
Now you are ready to can the beans. Put about 3 inches of water in your canner and put over medium heat. Fill a 2-4 quart pan with water and heat until nearly boiling. In order to sanitize place the jar lids and seals in a hot skillet with about 1 inch of water. The jars can be sanitized in your canner while the water is getting hot. I just turn them upside down in the hot water.
When I think the jars are hot enough to kill the germs I take a jar out one at a time. I put the wide mouthed funnel on top of the jar and fill with beans to about an inch of the top. I press the beans down to try to get as many as possible in the jars. Next I add 1 teaspoon of salt to a quart jar or 1/2 teaspoon to a pint jar. Following this I use the measuring cup to pour the hot water over the beans to about 1/2 inch of the top. I always wipe the rim of the jar before I put the seal on in case some salt is on the rim. If it is the lids won’t seal. After I have done this to all the jars I put the top on the canner and put the jiggler on 10 pounds of pressure. It takes a while for the canner to build up pressure. When the jiggler starts to jiggle you may need to turn it down a little. Just don’t let it jiggle too fast or it may blow up. Don’t be afraid just read the directions carefully on the canner before using. Pressure the quart jars for 25 minutes and the pints for 20 minutes. Start the timer as soon as it starts jiggling. Don’t you just love that word. I’m really not sure that it the correct name for the jiggler. I hope you understand what I mean. After the timer goes off then move canner to a cool burner and let it cool off. Be careful opening the canner, the jars will be very hot. Place on a dish towel and let cool. You should hear a pop sound when the lids seal.