Beans and The Beast: Pressure Canning 101

About 8 weeks ago, as spring was first beginning to open her eyes to 2015,  my newest gadget arrived on my doorstep – my All American Pressure Canner, now affectionately named by the family as The Beast. Excited to learn something new, I began perusing Pinterest for pressure canning tips and recipes, all while keeping this large canning monster in my dining room. As fate would have it, I ended up having several rounds of both dinner guests and overnight guests during this time and, having not yet found a permanent home for The Beast, I continued to transfer it from living room to dining room, depending on what space was needed for company. At one desperate point I even tossed a placemat on top of The Beast’s box and topped it with a few books, hoping it would look like an end table. Fail.

But with the passing of time my curiosity increased and my bravery settled in. It was time to conquer The Beast. I decided my first attempt needed to be a relatively inexpensive experiment so that, if not successful, at least I did not break the bank. Thus, canning dried beans became my first pressure canning project.

I had acquired some beautiful organic pinto beans from Fresh Fork Market, directly sourced from the Shagbark Seed & Mill in Athens, Ohio.  Being assured by several Pinterest authors that canning dried beans was fool-proof, I spent a cool-weather May day canning pints of pinto beans that will later become the refried beans my family enjoys often. Yes, this was not as hard as I thought it would be…and no, the pressure canner did not explode (insert sigh of relief here!)

Here are a few pictures of the pinto bean canning process:

The Beast and the beans!

The Beast and the beans!

Don't these organic pinto beans look gorgeous?

Don’t these organic pinto beans look gorgeous?

After sorting and rinsing the beans, I placed 1/2 cup beans in each pint jar, followed by 1/2 tsp. salt.  Then I added hot water to the jars, filling up to the neck of the jar.  Once I added the prepared lids (following the typical canning instructions), the jars were ready to be placed in The Beast.

 

The beans in jars before canning

The beans in jars before canning

After placing the jars in the pressure canner (following the canner instructions carefully), I secured the lid, heated it up, allowed the steam to vent for 10 minutes as instructed, and then maintained an 11 lb pressure for 75 minutes.  Once this time had been completed and the canner was completely cooled down, I lifted the canned pints of pinto beans out of The Beast.

Looking delicious already!

After canning – looking delicious already!

Several recipes I looked at said the beans will continue to puff up as they settle.  These have a shelf life of one year without losing nutritional value.  Organic refried beans are now ready and waiting in my cupboard for our next Mexican Night!

With Round One finished,  I am even more excited to attempt pressure canning some additional recipes.  Stay tuned for updates on future projects with The Beast – I am hoping to can fresh peas soon!

 

 

 

 

A New Season of Canning

The icicles are dripping, the birds are chirping, and Daylight Savings Time has begun.  Is it safe to say that spring is on the way?  When the crocus buds peek out of the snow-laden flower bed, another thought begins to poke its way into my mind – gardening!  I know some of you have already begun your seeds indoors. One of these years I hope to accomplish that. For now, I am content to drool over the gardening catalogs that seem to arrive in my mailbox daily.

Something else arrived yesterday – on my doorstep. It looks like something an alien might have dropped off. And be careful picking it up, because you could sprain a back muscle! But I am so excited to take on this new challenge for my gardening/preserving season this year.

Men have their tools, women have their gadgets…and mine is currently in the form of an All-American Pressure Canner. During the long harsh months of January and February here in Ohio I have been researching information about pressure canning.  My freezer is filled to capacity, for which I am grateful. However, some items in my freezer could be safely canned.  In theory, I believe canning more foods to make them shelf-stable will allow me to stock my freezer with more items from my garden and from seasonal sales that can only be frozen.  In this way I believe I can continue to save money and provide a healthy diet for my family.

So, here it is! Pretty impressive, I might say. Honestly, I am scared to use it for the first time. But hpressure canneraving read multiple reviews on this product and its safety, as well as a myriad of online posts and comments on proper handling of this equipment, I am ready to tackle this new challenge. I hope to try my first hand at it by canning some spring peas. We will see how it goes.

The online reviews I read on this product were incredible. One man spoke of using his grandmother’s All-American Pressure Canner which is now 100 years old.  He needed to replace the weight or the dial (I can’t remember which) and had it checked for safety – it still works fine. Others commented on how this canner is so well made they will be able to pass it down to the next generation. So as my son was lifting this giant out of the box for me yesterday, I told him to be careful with it because this might be his inheritance. He didn’t seem too impressed – I wonder why?

So here’s to a new season and a new gadget and new fun! If any of you are experienced pressure canning people, I would love to know your favorite recipes. I am going to start simple, but I intend to expand my horizons in the future. Thanks in advance for your input!

PS:  I have been watching this product online for a few weeks. On Wednesday a week ago (after midnight) I happened to check, and this product was marked down to $161!  The next morning I decided to order it. Much to my surprise, the price was back to $209. Later that week it went as high as $237. Determined not to pay that much, I continued to watch the price. Last Thursday (after midnight) I checked again – the price was $161, with no tax and free shipping. I ordered it immediately, saving myself $66 from the top price. I have never observed this price change happening before and do not know if it will happen again, but if you are interested in this product, it may be worth it to check the prices for a week to see what you can get.  The link included in the blog article takes you to the item I purchased.

 

Fresh Fork Market Week 10

???????????????????????????????  Week 10 of my Fresh Fork Market summer and I’m not even halfway through – that’s exciting! As the seasonal crops transition into mid-summer fare,  I am enjoying the change of flavors and opportunity to move into different categories of recipes. This week’s FFM bag included candy onions, tomatoes, 3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, blackberries, Early Gold apples, Italian sausage, fresh basil, and the best-tasting cantaloupe I have had in a long time.

???????????????????????????????Since I was out of town last week and did not pick up my bag,  I used the credits to pick up some additional items for this week.  More Early Gold apples were my first choice – we are ready to bite into a fresh-picked crisp eating apple!  Cherry tomatoes and fresh blueberries were added next, along with some delicious granola for breakfast.  My daughter begged for the ground beef for cheeseburgers – again.  And I threw in the kielbasa for a quick meal later in the week.   So much color and flavor came home with me, I feel inspired to be creative and maximize the nutrition of these foods in my cooking this week.

Fresh blueberries at our house can mean only one thing:  Blueberry Cream Pie.  When my husband and I were married 27 years ago, we enjoyed some delicious meals on our honeymoon.  But our absolute favorite was a blueberry cream pie.  In fact, we had it for dessert several times.  For a few years I searched through magazines and cookbooks hoping to find a similar recipe. (Remember, this was before Pinterest!)  Finally I found a recipe that looked promising.  After our first bite of this pie, we knew we had found what we were looking for.  In fact, we actually like this recipe better than the original pie.   Now it is a staple at our house in blueberry season and even occasionally in the middle of winter if I thaw some frozen blueberries.   Here’s the recipe for Blueberry Cream Pie as it appeared in Country Magazine, 1995:

  • ??????????????????????????????? 1 cup sour cream
  •  2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen are OK, but do not thaw; may need to bake slightly longer)

Beat the first six ingredients for 5 minutes or until smooth.  Fold in blueberries. Pour mixture into unbaked 9″ pie crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove from oven.  Sprinkle the following topping on the pie:

  • 3 Tbsp. flour.
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. chopped pecans

Combine these 3 ingredients to form a soft crumb topping.  Bake for 10 more minutes. Chill before serving.  Delicious!

Fresh Fork Market is hosting their next canning event on Saturday, August 16th.  It’s all about tomatoes-canned tomatoes and tomato sauce.  It’s not too late to sign up.  Check out the Fresh Fork Market Canning Club on Facebook.  It’s sure to be a good time!

 

 

Fresh Fork Market: Week 6

??????????????????????????????? Today is Wednesday, now one of my favorite days of the week.  I used to dread grocery shopping.  The list-writing, coupon-clipping, decision-making, cart-loading process can be long and tiring, even discouraging when I think I have stocked up a bit but most everything I brought home is gone in a week.  Fresh Fork Market is changing the way I plan my menu and shop for food.  My pick-up point in Brecksville is easy and delightful.  Now I can spend my time looking for new recipes using the fresh, healthy ingredients I bring home  in the FFM bag each week. And because the weekly ingredients are so fresh, usually cooking them is often a quick process as well.

This week my FFM bag included a whole chicken (soon to be cooked in the crock pot and used for a variety of chicken dishes), 3 zucchini, yellow beans, a large fresh candy onion , a green garlic bulb, 1 pint of cherry tomatoes and 1 pint of fresh blueberries.

I also picked up a jar of roasted heirloom tomato marinara sauce today.  I still  had a bag of roasted red pepper linguini from Ohio City Pasta, so I cooked the pasta for dinner and added the marinara sauce on top – delicious!   The pasta is $5 and the marinara sauce is $6, but since my husband and I only ate half of this amount (lunch leftovers, yeah!),  we enjoyed a healthy, tasty meal for $2.75 a piece – less than the cost of a fast-food meal with twice the flavor!

Since I still had a fresh tomato, cucumbers, and half of a large candy onion left over??????????????????????????????? from last week, I made one of our favorite fresh salads to go with our pasta dinner.  This Cucumber-Tomato Salad is quick, easy, and hard-to-beat with its fresh summer taste.  I am sure there are many recipe versions online. Here is the recipe I have used for years (not sure where it came from):

Cucumber-Tomato Salad

  • 3 cups unpeeled (or partially peeled) sliced cucumbers (about 2 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped tomato (about 1 large)
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (I used the Candy onion and it worked great)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Splenda (or other sweetener; I use about 2 Tbsp. sugar)
  • Salt and pepper to taste, if desired (I do not use any).

Combine chopped veggies in non-metal bowl.  Combine rice vinegar and sweetener; stir until sweetener is dissolved.  Pour over fresh veggies, stir to mix.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes; serve chilled.  (The flavors blend even better if you let it set all day before serving it).

Last week I mentioned I would take a picture of the Fresh Fork truck today.  Well, I got so excited about seeing what was in my bag and what else was available today, I completely forgot!  I will do my best to remember next week.  On another note,  I did attempt to make Berry Sorbet using the black raspberries I picked up last week.  While the recipe was not difficult and the taste of the frozen sorbet was flavorful,  I was not satisfied with the texture and final consistency of the sorbet.  So I think I will try this again and see if I have more success next time before sharing the recipe.

Be sure to check out the Fresh Fork Market Canning Club‘s first canning session on July 19th.  Sign up is limited to the first 4o people, so don’t delay!  Canning is a part of my Once-A-Year Cooking plan.  Canning and freezing allow me to stock up on the freshest ingredients at their peak and enjoy them all year long.  No need to go out for fast food when I have jars of fresh peaches, applesauce and more stored away.   If you have never tried canning before, Fresh Fork Market’s Canning Club is a great place to start.