Canning Green Beans in the Pressure Cooker

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.

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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.

Supplies:

  • pressure canner
  • set with funnel, tongs, lid lifter, and headspace measure
  • jars
  • lids and bands
  • thick towel

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.

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Preparing the Beans

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.

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Canning Jars

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.

Preparing the Canner

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.

Safety Tips

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.

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Canning the Green Beans

  1. Start filling the jars with the green beans. You will not cook the beans before you place them in the jar. Leave an inch of head space. Use the boiling water from the big pot of boiling water to cover the beans. Be sure all are covered and still keep one inch of head space.

  2. If you want to add salt to the jar, now is the time. Once it is added, use your utensil to remove any air bubbles. Wipe the top of the jar and add the lid and the bands.

  3. With the jar tongs, place the jars in the canner. There should be at least 3 inches of water in the canner; if too much is boiled away, add hot tap water to make about 4 inches. Put the lid on the canner but leave the vent open. Turn the heat up under the canner and let the steam vent for 10 minutes. Add the pressure weight to the canner and let the pressure build to 11 pounds. Process for 25 minutes keeping the pressure to 10 pounds. (Check the manufacturer's book to be sure the directions are the same. If you don't have directions by the company, check for their website. Always check the directions for your pressure canner.)
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  4. Once the jars are processed, turn off the heat. Do not put the pressure cooker under cold water. Let the pressure come down as the canner cools. This could take 45 minutes. Don't jostle the jars or bother the canner while it cools. Once the pressure is at 0, the canner may make a click sound that you will learn to recognize. You can take off the lid and remove the jars from the canner. Using your jar tongs, place them on the thick towel on the counter and leave the jars alone to cool on their own. This might take overnight. I have often listened to jar lids pop as they sealed as I read in bed. It gives a good feeling to know that you have preserved food for your family.

  5. When the jars are sealed and cool, take off the bands and place jars in a cool, dark place. You have green beans until next year's crop comes in.

By Mary Belk

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