How to Can Green Beans
Home canned green beans are one of the boys' favorite veggies, so I try to process about thirty quarts each season. Our last round of “green” beans actually started out mostly as Purple Podded Pole Beans (which turned green when canned or cooked), but our main crop most years is Emerite pole beans. I prefer pole beans because there is less bending and they produce over a longer season. Here's our system for cleaning and processing home canned green beans.
The fresh picked beans get dumped on the table.
Off come the ends, then they get snapped or cut into bite size pieces. Rinse well in cold water. It's amazing how much grime washes off.
Once washed, drain in colander to prepare for packing into jars. The canning method described below is called the “cold pack method”, because the beans are packed into the jars without being heated.
Tools Needed for Canning Green Beans
- Pressure Canner – because they are low acid, beans must be canned in a pressure canner, not a water bath canner
- Tongs or magnetic lid lifter, for lifting the jar lids
- Jar lifter
- Ladle, for filling the jars with liquid
- Hotpads, for handling hot everything
- Small dish clothes, for setting the jars on while filling and wiping rims clean
- Chopstick or thin spatula, to release air bubbles from the jar
- Canning salt – don't use iodized salt – it will darken/discolor the beans
- Canning jars – cleaned and sterilized, kept warm
Get everything ready before you start because you want to move as fast as possible once you start packing. See Getting Started with Home Canning for more information on equipment used in canning. I wash the jars in the dishwasher and keep them hot. My mom used to hand wash them and keep them in a warm oven. It's best to work with everything warm or hot. Mixing hot and cold can lead to shattered glass.
On the stove, place three quarts of boiling water and a tablespoon of white vinegar into the pressure canner (check your canner for filling guidelines). The white vinegar helps prevent hard water deposits on the jars. Heat several quarts of water to near boiling to cover the beans. If desired, heat lids in warm water on “low”. Current guidelines do not require warming the lids, but I find I have less seal failures with warm lids. Never boil the lids before processing or you may damage the sealing compound.
I prefer the cold pack method because it keeps the beans firmer. Take the washed beans and pack them into jars, adding one teaspoon salt in each jar. Shake them down/pack them in as you go. Allow one inch headspace, i.e. fill jar with beans to one inch below the top edge of the jar.
Fill jar with boiling water, maintaining 1 inch headspace. Slide a wooden chopstick or thin plastic spatula around the inside edge of the jar (between the beans and the glass) to release any trapped air bubbles. Don't use a knife or any metal objects, or they may scratch the glass.
Wipe the edge of the jar with a clean, dry cloth so you get a good seal. Always make sure to double check your rims and jars for any nicks or cracks. Even a tiny nick can keep a jar from sealing, and a hairline crack will blow out the whole jar in the canner.
Screw on two piece lid and tighten until snug.
Process quarts at 11 pounds pressure for 25 minutes, pints at 20 minutes at 11 pounds pressure, or adjust as follows for higher altitudes:
When done, allow the pressure canner to cool down and release the pressure on its own. Don't bleed off the pressure or place cold rags on it or anything else, unless you want a big mess. Once the pressure has dropped to zero and the little pressure button has released, carefully open and unload the canner. Place the jars on a towel and leave them undisturbed for around eight hours. Do not retighten screw lids, unless you're using Tattler Lids – then follow their instructions.
The purple beans cook up green, but they are a little darker than regular green beans. The lids should be pulled down tight. If you can pop the lids up and down they did not seal properly and those beans should be refrigerated and eaten, not stored. Remove the rings (if you leave them on they tend to rust and may provide a false seal). Label and store in a cool, dark place. Enjoy your garden or farm market goodness year round.
You may also enjoy:
- How to Grow Lots of Pole Beans for Easy Picking and Preserving
- Pickled Dilly Beans
- How to Harvest Shell Beans and Make Bean Soup with Ham