Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pressure Canning Dry Beans

I like beans.  For all the obvious reasons--they're a great non-meat source of protein, with around 7 grams per serving, and contain a whopping 14 grams of fiber per serving, which means they help regulate blood sugar levels and help you feel full longer.  Oh, and they taste good, too :)
But there's a problem with beans.  They have to be cooked.  And bean cooking requires some serious planning-ahead-ing, something I am occasionally good at, but not when it comes to beans.
Now, when I do remember to plan ahead, and manage to attempt to cook beans, one of two things happens.  Either they are underdone (crunchy beans anyone?), or they are burned.  There is no in-between.  Beans are something I've never managed to master cooking.
Now, I could just use commercially canned beans, however, commercially canned beans contain an awful lot of salt, and I can do without the salt.  Even if I buy no-added salt beans, they're kind of expensive.  Average regular price for a 15 oz can of pinto beans at my grocery store is $1.20.
Guess what I discovered, though (this is so exciting).  If you can your own beans, you don't have to cook them first!  Yay!
So, here's what you do.  Rinse and pick through 2 pounds of dry beans, taking out any rocks or weird looking beans.  Put 'em in a large pot, cover with 2-3" of water (2-3" above the level of the beans), and let 'em soak overnight, 12-18 hours.
Now, there are folks out there who skip the soaking step, and their beans turn out just fine.  I've experienced mixed results when I can beans that way, so I soak.  It's up to you.

Once your beans are soaked, divide them equally between 5 quart size jars (or 10 pint size jars)--I got a little over 2 cups of soaked beans per jar--fill the jars with boiling water, leaving 1" head space, use a plastic scraper to release any air bubbles, and place hot lids and bands, tightening just finger tight.

(If you don't soak, use 1 cup of dry beans for quarts or 1/2 c. beans for pints)

Thanks again for "lending" me your pressure canner indefinitely, Mom & Dad :)
Place the prepared jars in your pressure canner, and follow the directions to process your beans for 90 minutes for quarts (or 75 min for pints)--remember to adjust for altitude, if necessary--at 10 pounds of pressure.

That's it!  The beans cook while they're in the canner, and are ready to use in your favorite recipes.

Oh, by the way, you don't actually need a pressure canner to can beans!  If you have a pressure cooker (I'm talking to you, Chip.  Oh wait, you don't like beans), you can do this, too.  Just find a rack that'll fit your pressure cooker to keep the jars up off the bottom of the pot.  Easy!

Now I picked up these particular beans on clearance at Target for $1.34/2 lbs, but even at regular price, these are a great deal.  Regular price for 2 lbs of pinto beans at Aldi is $1.79.  Each of these quart jars is equivalent to about 2 cans of beans, which makes these beans about 18 cents per can--without the added sodium.  And I didn't have to cook 'em!

I like to mash these up with a little garlic and cumin to fill tortillas, or use them in chili or my very favorite soup which I could eat for every meal: Taco Bean (click here for the recipe). 

Happy bean canning!

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