Recently, I have been learning how to pressure can things. I admit, it was super scary to me at first (long story from when my mom was a little girl), but it really turned out to be sure easy! I have now canned almost 150 jars of beans and haven’t broken 1!! For this tutorial, you can use black beans, pinto, or kidney. As always, please check processing times and weights for your area before proceeding.
With that in mind- here is how I can the beans:
1. Clean your jars. I like to wash the jars by hand to ensure that they are super clean, but you can also dishwasher them. If the jars have been in storage or are new, still wash them. You never know how clean they are.
2. Sort your beans. Even if the beans look totally clean, I have found all kinds of rocks and little dirt chunks in them. My 3 and 5 year old enjoyed helping with this part because it really is so easy, but always a good idea (unless you enjoy eating a rock every now and again).
3. Wash the beans. Beans are grown in the ground and are dirty. Rinse them well before canning.
4. Measure about 1 generous cup of dried beans per quart jar. (**UPDATE: Stick to 1 cup of beans (not generous). Depending on the beans you are using, this won’t allow enough water in the jar and it could make your beans a little crunchy. )
If you are canning black beans, you want to be less generous because I found that they filled up the jar and soaked up most of the moisture, but the pinto and kidney beans were just fine with a few extra.
5. Add 1 tsp. salt to each jar. I used normal table salt for this, but my mother recommends using canning salt. The only difference is that table salt will leave the water in your jars (after processing) looking a bit cloudy. Canning salt will be clear so you can admire your beans more. Either way is fine.
6. Fill the jar up to the neck (about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of head space) with water. Another tutorial I read here they warned that how hard or soft your water is will depend on how hard or soft the beans are. If you have a preference, or if you have extremely hard water, consider using bottled water. Also, if you fill the jars too full, the lids will pop off during canning. To avoid the lids popping off, don’t fill the jars too full.
7. Clean the mouths of the jars. This step it EXTREMELY important. I mean, all the steps are important, but if there is even the tiniest bit of anything on the mouth of the jar, it will not seal. Because our goal is to get as many jars of beans “shelf worthy” as possible, it makes this step extra important. Simply get your clean fingers wet and rub them around the mouth of the jar. If you feel anything, re-do this step until the mouth feels smooth and clean.
8. Boil the lids to the jars. This will soften the rubber on the lids and make it more likely to seal later on. I like to boil mine about 3-5 minutes. Use a magnet or tongs to remove the lids from the boiling water and put them on the jar. You want the lids to be snug, but not as tight as you can possibly can.
9. Place jars into the pressure canner. With my pressure canner, you add 2 quarts water and can 7 quarts at one time.
10. Put the lid on with the pet cock open and turn on the heat. Once the steam is shooting out of the pet cock, set the timer for 10 minutes to eliminate the extra air from the pressure canner. After the 10 minutes, close the pet cock and turn down the heat a bit. This is the point where the pressure will start to build up inside the pressure canner. (again, follow your manufacturers instructions to ensure that you are canning correctly for your canner and elevation).
11. Once the canner has reached 10 lbs. pressure, set the timer again for 30 minutes. At this point, I again turn down the heat. You want the pressure to stay right about 10 lbs and not continue to build. I have found that if I turn my stove to a simmer setting that it will stay at just about the right pressure.
12. After you have processed the jars for 30 minutes at 10 lbs pressure, then take the entire canner off of the heat. (and it is IMPORTANT) and let the pressure return to normal on its own. Do not release the pressure from the pet cock or try to open the lid. This will increase the likelihood that a jar will explode.
13. Remove jars from canner and place on a rack to cool. Leave space between the jars for air to flow so that the jars can cool evenly. You may hear a little “pop” sound as the lid seals. (the MOST rewarding and wonderful sound in this whole process!) After jars are cool, press down on the center of the lid. If the jar is sealed, it will not move up and down. If the jar has failed to seal, it will still move up and down. Either use this jar immediately or place into the fridge and use within a day or 2.
14. Remove the rings from the processed jars after 24-48 hours. I always, always, always remove the rings from my jars. If you leave the on, the rings can rust which makes them yucky. Also, while the jars are canning, some of the bean juice comes out and can make the rings a little yucky. No big deal if you take them off soon after canning, but if you leave them on for a week or two (or longer) then it becomes harder than super glue and is really difficult to get off.
15. Mark the dates on the jars. I just use a permanent marker and write on the lids. You can buy fancy labels if you would like to as well. It is important to write the year that you canned the beans so that you can rotate the jars that you have in storage.
TADA! You are done! These beans are some of the MOST delicious that I have EVER had! As I have been canning them and taking them to chili cookoffs or family dinners, I have gotten the most compliments on how delicious these beans are! So simple and healthy too!