Once green beans become ripe on the vine, they need picked and preserved. Picking goes on for days as a new crop appears. If you have your own garden, you can pick and can until you are sick of green beans and still have plenty to give away. If you don't garden, you will find a big farmer's market is the place to get plenty of beans. If you know a farmer with a stand near his home, you will find him reliable for good green beans year after year.
There are many types of beans and you will soon find your favorite if you experiment. I prefer Blue Lake green beans. If you check the green bean aisle at the grocery, you will see that there are many kinds in those cans.
To can vegetables, you will need a pressure canner. A pressure canner is a bit more expensive than the hot water bath equipment; however, it will last a hundred years so you can get your money's worth. Mom used a pressure cooker to cook almost everything. Potatoes for mashing takes no time on a Sunday after church when everyone is hungry. I like pressure cooked pork chops better than any other way. I discovered after I was married that Fordhook frozen lima beans cook the best in the pressure cooker. If you have never used one, you will find that this is a valuable asset for the kitchen.
You will need some big bowls and a big pot for boiling water. You will already have ladles. You might want salt for your beans. I personally don't add salt.
When you buy your beans, you are looking for the healthy color as well as a filled out bean. If you run your fingers down the bean, can you feel the little beans inside the pod. If it isn't filled out, you don't want it. If you snap an end off the bean, does it snap? You don't want a limp, drooping bean.
When you get your beans home and need to get them ready for canning, get comfortable with your beans and a bowl. Women used to sit around and snap beans together. If you can get some help, that is good too. I don't like cutting beans. I don't like to use metal on any vegetable if I can avoid it. It does quicken discoloration.
I take a bean and snap off the ends. The little tips should be about the size of my little pinkie's end joint. Once I have just the bean that I want to can, I snap it into the size I want the pieces to be. You can cut it if you want. I just remember and still snap beans. Once I have a bowl snapped, I wash my beans in cool to lukewarm water.
To prepare the jars, they can be washed in a dishwasher if it has a sanitized cycle. The jars can be left in the dishwasher on a heat cycle. The lids need to be washed and left in the hot water. The canner needs to be filled so that there will be an inch of boiling water over the top of the jars.
You will need to rinse it out and place the plate in the bottom of the canner. (Read directions for your canner. If their directions are different, follow the manufacturer's directions.) Add about 4 inches of water and put the canner on heat just to warm it up. Do not put the lid on the canner at this point.
At this step, it is time to be sure children are safe. I used baby gates to keep them out of the kitchen when mine were little. However, I would corral them in playpens or high chairs for this step. Boiling water and curious children do not mix. I also kept mine out of the kitchen for the pressure canner time. One child was afraid of the jiggling weight but another was fascinated by it. Keep the kids safe.
By Mary Belk
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