How to Can Beans

by GettingFreedom on June 22, 2011

Preserving and storing food is a favorite of mine.  I truly enjoy looking at my full freezers and pantry shelves and making up more homemade convenience foods to put back in their place.  

When we were still in the planning stages of Project Major Home Addition, one element I was adamant on was a large pantry, even though we were also to have a large kitchen.  My reasoning behind it was that freezer space is highly limited and it is a continued cost {the electricity}.  Not only that, but there are some days when I forget to pull out an ingredient for dinner that is tucked away in my freezer and I end up having to wait longer for it to thaw

Many foods can be safely canned at home using a pressure canner or a water bath canner–you just have to follow specific directions.  For my family, learning to how to can just made sense .

Why Can Beans?

Dining on beans is already a frugal choice for dinners.  However, you can stretch your grocery dollars even further by using dried beans.  They are far cheaper than buying already canned beans from the store, and like everything else homemade–you control the ingredients, namely the amount of salt. 

Not only are dried beans easy on your grocery budget, they’re super easy to cook!  The hardest part, for me anyway, is remembering to give them a good long soak the night before.  Before now, I’ve always cooked them for a couple of hours on the stove top, bagged them up in about one pound portions, and popped them in the freezer for use later.  However, I’ve noticed there have been lots of instances {especially lately since my mind is going every which direction, but the way I need it to be!} when I’ve forgotten to pull our our beans for dinner and I’ve had to wait on it to thaw. 

After a few frustrating times, and delayed dinners, a light bulb went off.  Why can’t I just can these?!  So I started to research–and indeed, beans can be canned at home and really, it’s pretty easy!  During the canning process, your beans are cooked to perfection–from start to finish {minus soaking time} you should be done in under 2 hours!

How to Home Can Beans

In order to can your beans at home, you have to have a pressure canner.  Beans can not safely be canned in a water bath canner because a water bath canner cannot reach the temperature needed to kill any bacteria that could be lurking in your beans.  This isn’t something to take lightly, so please, do not even attempt it!

Soak Your Beans

Like I mentioned, I’m pretty scatter brained on this step, so I just soaked mine in hot water for about 3 hours before I began.  I knew I was wanting to do 7 quarts, so I measured out about 11 cups of beans.  Your beans process in the pressure canner long enough that you won’t have to worry about them not getting soft–the soaking here is mostly to remove the gas and any debris.

Sterilize

Sterilize your lids and jars.  You can see a step by step tutorial in this post.  While I’ve never done it this way, you can also run your jars through your dishwasher, without soap, on the sterilize setting.

Fill Your Jars

Add your beans to your empty jars; 3/4 cup beans for pints, and 1½ cups for quarts.  Once you’ve added in your beans, fill with water making sure to leave 1 inch of headspace. *TIP*  This is basically to the bottom of the rings on your canning jar.  Wipe off the rim of your jars, and add on the lid and ring.

Process

While you are filling your jars, prepare your pressure canner.  Once your jars are ready, carefully add them into the pressure canner.  Process pints for 75 minutes, quarts for 90 minutes–both at 10 pounds pressure. 

*New to pressure canning?  This post will walk you through the steps, even though it’s for green beans. :)  

*You can process pints and quarts together, although it isn’t ideal.  You will need to process them for the longest time, which in this case would be 90 minutes.  This ensures that the quarts are processed correctly, and it’s better to over-process them than to under-process {as there could still be bacteria lurking in there}.

Once your time is up, remove from heat and let your canner cool on it’s own.  After the pressure has returned to zero and the vent lock has went back down, it is now safe to remove the weight.  Let the steam escape, remove the lid {Be very careful, the canner still contains steam.} and then remove your jars using a jar lifter or silicone mittPlace your hot jars on a towel to cool down.  Check your seals after 24 hours.

What’s the Cost?

If you’re a number person like I am, and are curious as to roughly how much home canned beans cost–here it is::  While I buy my beans in bulk, I’ve figured up that it cost me roughly 25¢ a cup for dried pinto beans.  With those figures, a quart of home canned pinto beans {about 2 store bought cans of beans} cost right around 38¢.  Now that’s a bargain! :)

These instructions work for canning most dried beans, such as pinto, black, navy and kidney beans.  As for my canning adventure that I hinted to on facebook and in yesterday’s post??  They were canned beans alright, canned refried beans!  TONS better than my regular ones {although those are fabulous, too!}.  I’ll definiltey share that recipe soon!

This post is part of Frugal Friday.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Miriam June 23, 2011 at 5:58 am

I’d love to have your recipe! We don’t eat a lot of canned beans (not green beans, but this kind) because they’re more trouble than I want to go to (remembering to soak, etc.). BUT! I’m sure that if I would can some, I would use them alot more! I love this idea. I might do this during a non-busy time (ha!) this summer or fall when I’m not working at canning or freezing something else. If not then, maybe this winter I’ll can them up. BTW, where do you like to buy your beans in bulk?

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GettingFreedom June 23, 2011 at 6:08 am

@Miriam, Willie has really grown to love eating beans in place of meat. That’s a frugal conversion that I’d never thought I’d see–but boy does it make me happy! Escpecially now that I can can them myself!

You know that place I got that flour and sugar when you came down? There. :) It’s not a chain, unfortunately–but maybe that’s why it’s so great.

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Karen June 23, 2011 at 1:49 pm

You might want to check out growing the beans that you later can, if you have space in your summer planting. I have a commercial package of kidney beans in the garden shed, no space to plant them, but they sound like they are grown pretty much like any other bean, the difference being that you let them mature and dry on the plant. I have heard somewhere that you should pull the plants and hang upside down in a dry place if they will freeze before they dry. Then when they dry, you shell them and store them. I would love to try this myself, and imagined I could use the bulk beans as seed for the first year, at least. I don’t know whether or not what you buy at the grocery store is hybridized, and therefore might not come true, but for the investment, the yield could be essentially free beans.

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Kristina June 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I do this, too, using one of the Ball canning books for directions. To make refried beans from home canned pinto beans, you just reheat in a pan and mash them. You can add salsa while reheating, too. Easy!

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Marla June 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

So when you are ready to eat the beans. How do you season them?

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GettingFreedom June 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm

@Marla, You can eat them immediately if you want to. As far as seasoning them–you can *almost* add any array of seasonings that you want when you can them. I’ll be sharing the seasonings that I added when I canned mine soon.

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Melody D. June 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm

You made this look so much easier than a canning book I have that has probably nearly the same directions. Now I feel adventurous enough to try it. Thanks!!

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GettingFreedom June 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm

@Melody D., Oh, great! Glad to hear that! It really is pretty easy–let me know when you try it!

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Edna Fields June 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Just curious, why did you have so much head space when they were done? Is there any reason not to fill them a little fuller?

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GettingFreedom June 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm

@Edna Fields, My guess is because the beans took the water? Really, I’m not 100% sure because I had only 1 inch headspace when I put them in the canner. In my next batch, I’m planning on adding more beans, and a bit less water. I’ll be sure to update the post with my results.

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Katie@Gluten-Free Food Storage July 11, 2011 at 5:11 am

I can beans too, but I can mine dry. I posted about it here http://gluten-freefoodstorage.blogspot.com/2011/03/beans-beans-beans-how-to-prepare-beans.html
It’s so easy to do, and quick. Makes me thing why anyone would EVER pay for store canned beans. One pound of dry beans can normally get me 4-5 pints of canned beans. The savings is incredible.

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Rebecca September 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Thanks so much for this! We go through a lot of canned beans bought at the grocery store. I’ve recently begun canning some other things, and it hit me today that I would really save the most if I canned my own beans! yay!

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jeanette October 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

HI
A great idea for canning beans. I have an electric pressure cooker from costco $80.00 and it can cook beans, rice in 30mts perfect!
this was perfect for working mom to cook a quick meal.

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James November 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm

you want the beans to cook in the pressure cooker (1 hour and 15 minutes)? what is the setting on your stove top (med or high)
I was told to place the jars in the pressure cooker for 20 minutes.

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GettingFreedom November 13, 2012 at 8:06 am

James–
Pints process for 1 hour 15 minutes, and quarts for an hour and a half. The setting on my stove is typically between medium and low, maintaining 10 pounds of pressure–which is the important part. Twenty minutes in the pressure cooker {to can them} is not long enough to kill the bacteria to make them shelf stable. Now to cook them and not can them–20-30 minutes should be enough.

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Brenda March 26, 2013 at 9:39 am

Is the water you add to the jars cold, warm or hot? Do you can the different beans (navy, pinto, great white) mixed or keep them separate.
Thanks I look forward to trying this

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Lori January 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I was wondering the same thing…

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