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.