First Time Pressure Canning-
I was overjoyed walking into our garden today. It was the first day of summer and with no school bells, alarms or deadlines, I spent my day in the garden enjoying the Texas sun, a slight breeze and a bountiful of green beans ready for pickin’. This would be my first time pressure canning. In past I’ve stuck to jams and jellies which was a good starting point and stepping stone for me and only required a water bath. Initially, I was intimidated with using a pressure cooker that looked like something my grandmother used back in the day. I can clearly remember her having us stay clear of the kitchen for fear that it would blow and injure someone. Well, pressure cookers have come a long way with many safety features and though I still keep my kiddos clear of the kitchen, I’m much more comfortable using my up to date model.
Why Not Just a Water Bath?
Green beans, unlike jams or jellies, are a low acid food that require pressure canning to kill microorganisms that are harmful if not destroyed before ingesting the food. Pressure canning at 240 degrees kills the botulism bacteria. If this temperature isn’t achieved and the bacteria isn’t destroyed, one taste of this spoiled food can kill you. Simply boiling food on the stovetop will not kill any botulism and should not be considered a safety step.
What Supplies Do I Need?
Canning supplies are minimal and can be purchased anywhere from Williams-Sonoma to WalMart and even your local grocery store in some cases.
Here are a few items you will need dependent on what you are canning:
- A Pressure Cooker and/or
- Water Bath Canner
- Measuring cups/spoons
- Jar Lifter
- Magnetic Lifter
- Wide Mouth & Regular Mouth Jars and Lids of all sizes
- Canning Rack
Once you have all your supplies :
- Gather firm fresh green beans. Prepare your beans. Wash in cold water and snip each end off. If they are string beans, remove the string from the top of the bean. Remove and discard any spots or soft/mushy parts. You can leave them whole or cut them in half or thirds.
- Sanitize your jars – This can be done a couple of ways: You can place them in a pot of water and bring them to a low boil over the stove for 10 minutes to sanitize after properly and carefully washing and rinsing, or run them through a dishwasher cycle to sanitize them. It is important that you keep your jars hot or at least very warm until you use them or the vast difference in temperature will crack or break them. I do not place my lids or tops in the dishwasher, rather in a small saucepan and bring this to a boil for a few minutes using my magnetic lifter to place them on jars to avoid contamination. Using a small saucepan makes it so much easier when you go to lift them out and avoids burning your fingers, where as dipping your hand or a magnetic lid holder in a deep pot may cause injury.
- Fill a pot with clean water or filtered water and bring to a boil. This pot is in addition to your pressure cooker and this boiled water will be used to pour over packed jars full of green beans. This is call the cold pack or raw pack method.
- Place your pressure canner pot on stove and add 3 quarts of water into the pressure canner – follow your manufacturer’s instructions on what’s required for your canner. I place 2 tablespoons of white vinegar in the water to prevent water stains on jars.
- Pack the beans in the canning jars tightly. I try to lean my jars on the side holding it with one hand while packing neatly and tightly with the other. Leave 1” inch headspace at the top of the jar to allow for expansion during the canning process. Pack your beans as tightly as possible as they will shrink some when processed. Remember to keep your hands very clean and ensure everything is sanitized to prevent any contamination.
- Using a ladle pour the boiling water into the jars leaving the 1” inch headspace at the top. The green beans should be covered.
- To salt or not to salt…this is the question: You may add ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt into the jars if you wish, however, this is not necessary to preserve the green beans. If you do choose to add salt, use pickling/canning salt.
- Use a plastic utensil to slide down the side of the jars to release any air bubbles. Add more water if necessary to cover the beans while still leaving 1 inch of headspace.
- Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth dipped in white vinegar or just a damp clean cloth. Add a warm lid, using your magnetic lid lifter , and apply the ring only fingertip tight.
- Use your jar lifter and place it into the pressure canner to avoid burning your hands.
- Repeat process until all jars are filled or your pressure canner is filled – whichever comes first.
- Make sure you can see light through the vent pipe on your lid – then place the lid on your canner and tighten. Turn burner on high heat
- Heat pressure canner until there is a steady flow of steam that can be seen, heard or felt coming through the vent pipe. Continue to heat for 10 minutes – reducing heat if necessary to allow for a steady flow of steam.
- Place 10 pounds of pressure on the regulator and add it to the vent pipe. Heat canner on high setting. As pressure develops, the cover lock will lift – this means there is pressure in the canner. **Never remove the regulator or lid when the cover lock is lifted. Processing time begins when the pressure regulator (the weight) begins to rock gently. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow steady rocking motion.
Now that the cover lock is down, it is time to remove the weight and let the canner cool for another 10 minutes.
Process pints for 20 minutes, and quarts for 25 minutes. *Times and pressure may differ slightly depending on your altitude.
- At the end of processing time, turn burner off and remove canner from heat source. Here is where the waiting begins — you must let the pressure drop as the canner cools. Pressure is completely reduced when the cover lock drops back down in place. Do not remove the regulator or lid until this drops to prevent injury or burn.
- Once the cover lock has dropped, remove the regulator and let the canner cool for an additional 10 minutes. Remove lid — Lift the back of the lid up first so the steam escapes away from you.
- Remove jars from canner using your jar lifter – and place on a towel to cool. Placing on a towel or dish rag is very important as the drastic temperature between your counter and the glass may cause it to break and burn you.
Within several minutes you will hear a ‘popping’ sound indicating that the jars are sealed. Let cool for 24 hours.
18. Store your canned goods in a cool, dry place with date of packing.
19. On a last note….NEVER waste…all those clippings and snippings from your beans are great chicken, rabbit, and worm food!
20. Happy Canning!
Keep it real and keep it local y’all,
The Texas Chick