Time To “Preserve” Your Summer: Green Beans

Oh…the darker, cooler mornings.

The darker, cooler evenings.

Fall is approaching and I’m starting to get a *wee* bit of anxiety about getting all of my summer produce canned and stored. Kind of silly to have anxiety, but I know how much my family loves the little taste of summer when it’s brought out during the cold days of winter.

The fresh herbs that have been dried at their peak. Summer sun flavored tomatoes making the best spaghetti sauces and hearty warm chilies. Zucchini bread, warm and moist, made with squash that was shredded and frozen only hours after being picked. Green beans with potatoes and bacon, steaming at your Thanksgiving dinner table. Want to be the star of the holiday? Bring THOSE!

Canning beans is not a difficult process; it just takes a little bit of equipment and a little bit of time. In the end, it is SO worth it. The taste between fresh garden beans and canned (or even worse, frozen) green beans is not even comparable. Just try it! You’ll see what I mean.

Step 1: Find fresh garden beans…a lot of them. Ten pounds will make about 7 or 8 quarts of beans. I paid $1 per pound at a local garden cart and fortunately, a friend let me pick a ton from her garden for free. Try and get beans that don’t have strings…it will save you time when cleaning them. Snap and discard the bean ends (and remove both strings down the sides) then snap into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Rinse well. Of course, don’t use rotten areas or damaged beans, but do remove the actual bean from the inside and use it!

Step 2: Get your equipment ready. You’ll need Ball quart jars & rings (and I DO recommend Ball or Kerr brand as knock offs have a tendency to break in the canner), a pressure canner, seals, jar lifter and several “stock” pots for boiling beans & water.

Step 3: There are two ways to can green beans: raw pack and hot pack. I choose to hot pack. By hot packing, you’ll want to cover the beans with water in a stock pot and boil for 5 minutes. Pack the hot beans loosely in clean, hot quart jars leaving one inch head space (meaning one inch of space from the top of the jar.)

Step 4: Pour boiling water into the jars, over the beans, leaving 1 inch head space. Place on a seal and tighten ring.

Step 5: Here, you want to follow the instructions that came with your pressure canner. For instance, mine says to pour 3 cups of boiling water into the canner & jar rack, add 2 TB of white vinegar (to prevent glass spots) and then add full jars. Place lid and boil until a steady stream of steam comes out of the spout at the top. Let the canner exhaust for 10 minutes. Then process the jars with 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes (for quarts.) The time starts after you put the weight on and it begins to rock steady (“…steady rockin’ all night long…we begin to ro-hock…”) The canner is full of pressure when the “lock” pops up. No worries, it’s a safety measure as the lid cannot be removed when the lock is on.

Step 6: When time is up, remove the canner from the burner and let sit until the “lock” falls back down, which means there is no pressure left in the canner. DO NOT REMOVE THE WEIGHT at this time. This cooling process will take about a half hour, so be patient. When it’s finished, carefully remove the lid and remove the jars to a cooling rack or somewhere they can be left alone. They will be VERY hot so don’t just put them on your counter top. I use a cookie cooling rack. When the seals “pop” inward, they are ready to date and store!

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