Tuesday night I picked our first good haul of green beans. I can’t remember our bean plants ever being as large as they are this year, and some of the plants were absolutely loaded!
I referred to the amount I picked as “can-able,” my husband heard “cannibal” and was rightfully confused. Nonetheless, I picked three and a half gallons of green beans.
Green beans are a low-acid food, so you need to process them in a pressure canner. If you only have a water bath canner, sorry, you can’t can green beans. I don’t want to hear about how your grandma or mom did their beans in a water bath and never got sick. And no, processing them longer isn’t going to help. The temperature in a water bath doesn’t get high enough to kill the bacteria that causes botulism. If you want to use a water bath canner, you can certainly pickle your beans… that I’ll condone (even encourage)… because the acid (vinegar) you’re pickling them in will kill botulism. But please do not even consider processing plain green beans in anything other than a pressure canner.
The great debate in our household is whether to process the beans in pints or quarts. My husband is a proponent of quarts because it’s fewer runs in the canner, thereby more efficient. However, we generally don’t eat that many beans in one sitting. So, I prefer pints because they yield the amount we eat for a meal. I do, however, tend to do a mix of quarts and pints. Typically I do the first run through the canner in quarts and the rest in pints. Win-win.
The first thing you want to do is wash your green beans. Add a couple drops of liquid dish soap to the water. If you want to do this outside in a 5-gallon bucket, that works just fine. You could cut them before you wash them, but I like to get a lot of the dirt off to help save my knives.
Trim the ends off of the beans and cut them into 1-inch chunks.
If you have any blemishes or rust spots like these be sure to trim those off. You don’t want any of that in your finished product.
I like to give them another good rinse once they’re cut.
Fill your canner with the amount of water recommended in your users manual.
Wash your jars in hot soapy water or run them through the dishwasher. I’m only running one batch so I hand washed them this time. Keep them warm, either by leaving them in the warm dishwasher or by putting a little water in each and placing them in your canner.
Make sure your rings are clean, rust-free, and not dented or otherwise misshapen and have them nearby. Put your lids in a small pot of hot (but not boiling) water on the stove. The blue pot has my boiling water to go in the jars with the beans, so we’re ready to go!
Fill the jars with green beans, salt (optional, 1 teaspoon for quarts or 1/2 teaspoon for pints), and then boiling water, leaving a 1-inch headspace.
Measure your headspace using a headspace tool or a ruler.
Use your headspace tool or other non-reactive utensil (I’ve heard chopsticks work well) to release any trapped air bubbles. Then recheck your headspace and add more water if necessary.
Wipe the rims with a damp cloth or paper towel (tip – just dip it in your hot lid water).
Position the lid, then tighten the ring.
Place the jar in the canner and repeat until the beans are gone or the canner is full. Never process any half-full jars.
Put on the lid and follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding pressurizing the canner.
Process quarts for 25 minutes or pints for 20 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure. Again, follow your manufacturer’s instructions for when to start timing.
Once time is up, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for releasing the pressure. Generally, you’re going to turn off the heat and wait until the pressure returns to 0, then let the canner cool for 10 minutes before removing the lid. Never remove the lid or the pressure regulator while the canner is pressurized. And don’t do anything to try to accelerate the cooling process.
Using the jar lifter, move the finished jars to a draft-free place where they can remain for 24 hours to cool completely. Put them on a kitchen towel or old bath towel. It’s perfectly normal for the jars to still be bubbling at this point.
And you’re done! Now sit back and listen for the pops!