Green beans and yellow wax beans are easy to grow and easy to can or freeze. They’re a favorite vegetable for many people.
Selecting Green Beans
Always try to obtain the freshest and most tender green beans possible. Reject beans that are over mature, hollow, tough, limp or floppy.
It takes approximately 1 ½ pounds of raw unsnapped green beans to produce a finished quart.
Snapping and Washing Green Beans
Green beans fresh picked from the garden or purchased at a farm stand or market will need to be washed and trimmed before they are canned or frozen. Trimming or snapping beans is easy but is time-consuming.
The old saying ” Many hands make light work” applies here. Snapping or beans goes much faster with good company and conversation. The stem end on the bean needs to be removed. The bean is snapped or cut into half or into thirds. Snapped bean are faster. But cut beans look better. Either is fine. It just depends upon preference.
After the beans are cut or snapped, place them into a sink of cold water to rinse and clean them. You may have to swish or rub the beans with your hands to remove any clinging dirt or grass.Drain the sink, rinse the beans under running water and remove the beans to a bowl. The beans are now ready to be canned or frozen.
Canning Green Beans
Green beans are a low acid food. The only dependably safe method of home canning low acid foods is with a pressure canner. Green beans can be pressure canned using either the raw pack or hot pack method.
The are two different ways to can green beans: raw pack or hot pack. The raw pack method is presented here and is the method that I prefer. The raw pack method saves time and energy. With the raw pack method fresh raw green beans are packed into a Mason jar and then boiling water is poured over them. The jar is then sealed and processed in a pressure canner.
The hot pack method is basically the same as the raw pack except the beans are cooked or blanched before they are packed hot into a canning jar. The advantage of hot pack is that more beans can be put into a jar and the beans don’t tend to float in the jar.
The disadvantage with the hot pack method is that the beans can become mushy if cooked for too long.
Usually green beans are canned with salt for added flavor. But salt is not a necessary ingredient for successful home canning of green beans or any other canned food. People on low sodium diets may prefer to skip the salt completely. If you choose to add salt, the standard measure is:
1 teaspoon salt for quarts
½ teaspoon salt for pints.
I use half those amounts in my beans.
Gather and assemble the jars, lids, bands, jar lifter, funnel and the pressure canner before the canning day. Nothing is worse than stopping in the middle of canning to go and hunt for something you forgot or replace equipment that doesn’t work properly.
Check to make sure that everything is in good working order. Visually examine all jars and rims for cracks, nicks or sharp edges. Examine the pressure canner and gasket carefully.Only prepare enough green beans for one canner load at a time.
Wash the jars and bands in hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry the bands and set aside. Keep the jars hot. An automatic dishwasher is perfect for this. But a sink full of hot water works just as well, as does pouring very hot water into upright jars as they stand in a sink or in a shallow pan.
Place the rack in the pressure canner and add the recommended amount of water according to your canner’s manufacturer.
Begin to heat the canner and a kettle of full of water while you are working. The water in the kettle will be poured into the jars to cover the beans. Simmer lids for 3 -5 minutes and keep hot until ready to use. Don’t boil them.
Filling The Jars
Fill a hot jar with green beans.
Pour boiling water into the jar and over the beans. Leave a 1″ head space. A jar funnel is an easy way to help you to determine head space. The distance from the bottom of the jar funnel as it sits inside the jar is 1″.
It is necessary to remove the air bubbles and air pockets from the jar. Do this by sliding a non-metallic object or spatula down the sides of the jar.
You will see tiny air bubbles come to the top of the jar and the beans will float a little. This is normal. Wipe the rim of the jar and jar threads with a clean damp cloth. The rim must be clean and free of food particles so that the lid makes a good strong seal.
Remove a lid from the hot water and center the lid on the jar with the sealing compound next to the jar rim.
Screw the lid band down evenly and firmly, but don’t over tighten.
Place the sealed jar into the canner. Fill the remaining jars one at a time with green beans and place the jars into the canner after they have been filled.
By this time the water in the canner should be very hot and simmering. You want the filled jars to remain hot while the other jars are being filled. When all the jars are filled put the lid on the canner and close it. Heat the canner with the pressure control weight off and heat it until a steady stream of steam comes out of the vent.
Allow the steam to vent from the canner for about 5 -10 minutes or according to your canner manufacturer’s directions. It is important to drive all of the air out of the canner especially if you are using a dial gauge.
Air pressure and steam pressure together may give a faulty reading on a dial gauge. Once the canner has been properly vented, apply the control weight or close the petcock valve.
Processing time for green beans is:
25 minutes for quarts
20 minutes for pints
at 10 pounds of pressure at 1000 feet of sea level or less.You must make an adjustment for higher altitudes.
The Amount Of Pressure Required To Reach 240° F
|Sea Level-2,000 ft.||11 lb.|
|2,001-4,000 ft.||12 lb.|
|4,001-6,000 ft.||13 lb.|
|6,001-8,000 ft.||14 lb.|
|8,001-10,000 ft.||15 lb.|
With a dial gauge pressure canner the processing time is counted from the time the proper pressure is reach. With a control weight the proper pressure is counted from the time the weight first begins to jiggle. A jiggle of 1 to 4 times a minute is about right. With a dial gauge the aim is to keep the heat steady so that the pressure remains stable. Some pressure canners have both a dial gauge and a regulator control weight.
Adjust the heat on the stove if necessary to keep and even and correct pressure throughout the entire processing time. It may take some trial and error to determine the heat setting on your stove to keep the pressure steady.
If at any time pressure goes below the recommended amount, bring the canner back up to the correct pressure and begin the timing from the beginning .
When the processing time is complete, you can either turn off the heat under the canner and allow the canner to stay on the burner to cool or you can carefully remove the canner from the heat. Allow the canner to cool naturally. Do not try to hasten the cooling process by using cold water or a fan. Only after canner pressure has returned to normal is it safe to open the lid .
For a control weight canner the pressure will have returned to normal when the vent stops hissing. If the control weight hisses at all when you touch it too much pressure is still inside the canner. Leave it alone and give it more time to cool.For a dial gauge canner when the gauge reads “0″ it is safe to open the canner.
Take care and use caution while opening the canner lid. All surfaces of the canner will be extremely hot. Always open the canner with the lid facing away from you and allow the hot water to run off inside the pot.
Very carefully remove the hot jars with a jar lifter and place the jars on a dry towel or board well out of the way of drafts.Leave the jars undisturbed for 8 -12 hours.
It is normal for the food inside the jar to be boiling when they are removed from the canner. Often a pinging sound is heard as the jars begin to cool. The pinging is the lid being pulled down and indicates that a vacuum seal has been achieved. After the jars have thoroughly cooled it is important to check the seal.
Remove the screw band before checking the seal. Check the seals by gently lifting the jars by the lid and notice if the center of the lid has been pulled down creating a slightly concave surface. If you are not sure if a jar’s lid has been pulled down push down into the center of the lid. If the lid springs up and down the jar has not sealed and the food should be re-processed within 24 hours, frozen or eaten promptly. Jars should be wiped clean if necessary, labeled and store in a cool dark place.
Freezing Green Beans
Green beans can be easily frozen. Freezing results in beans that have better color retention and a fresher taste. Frozen green beans are much preferred over canned beans in many recipes.
Preservation by freezing does not sterilize food; it only retards the growth of microorganisms and slows down enzyme activity and oxidation. Green beans like most vegetables must be scalded or blanched before freezing. Scalding cleanses the surface of dirt, reduces the action of enzymes and brightens the color of vegetables. Without proper blanching or scalding vegetables will begin to deteriorate in the freezer after about 4 weeks.
How To Do It
Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil. Place the snapped beans into the boiling water for 2-3 minutes. After 2 or 3 minutes remove the beans from the boiling water, drain them and then rapidly cool the beans by placing them in a sink of cold water and ice.
Once the beans are cool, drain them and package into vacuum sealed packages, rigid freezer containers or freezer bags. Freeze immediately. Frozen green beans will last between 12 – 18 months in a freezer under good freezer conditions.