Wednesday, August 4, 2010
I really had given up hope of canning green beans this year. When I arrived in Indiana almost 2 weeks ago, green beans were pretty much "done" around here. Everything I found was big, seedy, and dry. Green beans past their prime....
Then my Uncle Tim arrived, like a knight in shining armor, with a whole truckfull of fresh, crisp, Michigan green beans. Yay!I loaded up grocery sacks straight out of his truck bed for my youngest sister and I to can the next day. The beans were picked by a mechanical picker, so there were lots of baby green beans in there too. There's nothing wrong with tiny green beans, except for it's time consuming to clean enough to fill your jars. It ended up taking my sister and I the better part of a morning to snap 2 sacks of beans. Of course, we had "help" from both of our 2 year old daughters and a 10 week old baby. That might explain why we had to stop every 30 seconds or so to deal with some kid-related issue.
Once we snapped the "heads and tails" off of the green beans and then snapped them in half once or twice again, we tossed them into a big ol' stainless steel bowl, just like when we were little girls, snapping beans for my mom. I like to double rinse my green beans, so I washed them in a big sink full of water and then I sprayed them again as they sat in the colander to drain.
Canning should certainly be a sterile business, so either use your dishwasher or a sink of hot, soapy, water to wash out the canning jars.
Canning involves a lot of boiling water. Here I've got water boiling to pour over the green beans, water boiling in the pressure canner, and water boiling to heat the canning lids.
Once we had all of the green beans and jars clean and the water boiling, we were ready to can. But my dad showed up with take-out sushi for lunch and my sister and I abandoned our canning posts momentarily. Mmmmmm. Two thumbs up for dads who spoil their daughters!
Once I'd ingested as much sushi as I could fit into my belly, I started stuffing quart-sized jars with our clean green beans. I like to use a funnel to drop them in. You need to pack them down a little. Either press with your fingers if you can reach or tamp the beans down with a spoon or the blunt end of a knife. I like to pack em' pretty tightly into the jar. Just be sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace.
Then I add a little salt. About 1/2 teaspoon per quart.
I use the cold pack method. This means that rather than blanching the beans before-hand, I pour boiling water over the beans in the jars.
Once they're filled, run a dull knife down the sides of each jar to release any trapped air bubbles.
Wipe the rim of the jar, top it with a heated lid, screw a band on tightly, and place the jars into the preheated water of a pressure canner.
When you're putting a jar into a hot water bath or a pressure canner, give the bottom a quick dip in the water first and then set it down into the hot water to temper the glass. If you don't do this, you could end up with a broken jar. I have over 30 years of canning experience, I have dipped hundreds of jars into a canner over the course of my life, and I've even won a national award for food preservation, conservation, and safety. I still break the occasional jar. It's a mess. You have to take everything out of the canner, clean up the glass, re-fill the canner, and get the water boiling again. It'll set you back at least 15 minutes...probably more.
Of course the bright side is that where I once had a canning jar, I now have a vase and a coaster. : ) I got lucky with a clean break this time.
After you screw down the lid clamps of the pressure canner as tightly as possible (in the same manner that you tighten the lug nuts on your tires, in opposite pairs) heat the canner until steam is shooting out of the canner’s vent pipe (this is also known as the petcock but I'm calling it the vent pipe here, because I can be about as mature as Beavis. heh heheh heh.). Once you flip down the vent pipe, pressure begins to build inside of the canner. Watch the gauge. Once the pressure reaches 10, you will want to stabilize the pressure by adjusting the stove’s burner temperature. Process quarts of green beans at 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes and pints at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes. Once the jars have processed for the appropriate amount of time, turn off the heat or carefully remove the canner from the heat source and let it cool down until the pressure gauge returns to zero. Only then can you flip the vent pipe back up to release the pressure and remove the lid.
Place the jars on a towel covered countertop to cool completely. I let them sit overnight. Then I wipe em' down, checking to make sure that they all sealed, and label with the date before putting them on shelves in my basement.
I processed 6 canners of green beans altogether. 5 canners full of quarts and 1 full of pints (for my youngest sister). The final count on my green bean canning effort was 45 jars. Not bad for a day's work. Of course, it was a 13 hour day...but totally worth it when my family is eating these home-canned beans through the winter.
I guess that green beans pair well with seafood. First, sushi for lunch and then this for dinner:
My sisters raided my grandma's freezer to use up the leftover seafood from our Christmas dinner. They cooked up the crab legs, scallops, clams, and shrimp in the upstairs kitchen while I was stuffing the last beans into jars downstairs in Grandma's canning kitchen. Lucky me, to have meal service when I'm canning!
I'm not done canning yet! I picked a whole lot of tomatoes last night, so today I'll be canning my famous salsa.(famous among my friends, that is) I'm shooting for 50 pint! Then tomorrow, spaghetti sauce! Look for that post in the coming days....