Always Fresh and Delicious: Canning Green Beans at Home

All of us have seen glass jars lining the shelves of homes in old pictures, filled to the brim with nature’s bounty. Or, perhaps, you have a family member who has continued to can at home for years. Either way, home canning green beans can be a great way to get the most out of your garden. Here, we will talk about a great way to become acquainted with pressure canning: how to can green beans.

Preparing to Can

Before you start to can, gather the needed materials. You need quart or pint jars that are clean, and are free of defects or nicks. Carefully inspect each of them. You will also need new canning lids, bands, a pressure canner that is in good working order (inspect the gauge, as well as the seals), a jar lifter, towels, a large spoon, a pan or pot of scalding water for lids, tongs, an empty sink, a canning funnel, a utensil to get the air pockets out of your jars (a knife works well), and canning salt (optional). Of course, you will also need lots and lots of fresh green beans (each quart jar takes around 1 ½ to 2 ½ pounds of beans). Be sure that all utensils and cooking pots and pans are completely clean. You want to string and break your beans into the desired length. Some people break them very small, while others leave them whole. Be sure to wash your beans thoroughly (swishing them around in a sink full of clean water) to get rid of dirt, bad beans, or debris.

Hot Pack versus Raw Pack

There are two different methods for pressure canning green beans: hot pack and raw pack (or cold pack). If you are planning on a hot pack, you will need to also prepare a large pot of boiling water to blanch your beans in. For a hot pack, you will be boiling your beans for five minutes before you place them in jars, and cover them with cooking water. Leave one inch of head space. Some people prefer this methods because it makes it easier to pack more beans in a single jar. Others prefer the raw pack method because you have to cook your beans less before canning, and some believe that it keeps more nutrients intact. To do a raw pack, tightly pack your beans into jars. Pour boiling water over the beans, leaving one inch of head space.

Canning Green Beans

Before You Fire Up the Pressure Canner

The next few steps are the same, no matter the method you are using. Before you start these steps, you may want to put on your pressure canner with the correct amount of water, placing the lid on loosely. Put canning salt (1 tsp. for quarts; ½ tsp. for pints) in each jar. Use your knife (it can be plastic) or utensil for removing air bubbles to remove air bubbles in the packed jars. Put in a bit more beans, if needed. You only need one inch of headspace, but do not leave much more than that. Wipe the rims of your jars and put a hot canning lid on each. Tighten down a band on each jar, but do not tighten too tightly.

The Pressure Canner Method

Be sure to read your pressure canning instructions. Use your jar lifters to place your jars into your now hot pressure canner. Tighten the lid of the canner. Wait for the canner to reach pressure. Process quarts for twenty-five minutes at ten pounds, and pints for twenty minutes. (Times and pressure may vary based upon altitude, so carefully read the instructions for your canner.) Once they have processed, turn off your pressure canner, and let it return to zero pressure naturally. Remove the lid, take out your jars, and set them onto towels on your counter or table to seal. You will hear a pinging noise as each one seals. Check for unsealed jars. You’re done!

Are There Any Other Methods to Can Green Beans?

Pressure canning is really the only recommended method for canning green beans. It may be possible to use other methods, but green beans are a low acid food. This means that when they are canned using other methods, they could harbor bacteria or botulism, which could make yourself and your family very sick. Only use a pressure canner when canning green beans.

Make It Summer, All Year Round

With home canned vegetables, you can make it summer all year long. Canning green beans is not that difficult, and they can last all through the colder months. It is great to be able to use your own green beans in dishes the whole year. Your family will notice a taste difference. Not only that, but home canned veggies have less preservatives, chemicals, and salt than those you purchase in a metal can at the store.

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