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How to Can Green Beans – Step by Step Instructions for Canning Green Beans

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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.

How to can green beans in a pressure canner. Picking, cleaning, processing, headspace, processing times, and altitude adjustments for safe canning.

How to Can Green Beans

The fresh picked beans get dumped on the table.

fresh-picked-beans

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.

washing beans

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.

bean canning
heating lids

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.

canning beans

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.

wiping jar rim

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:

Processing times and pressures for green beans.

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.

canned beans

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. Refrigerate for short term storage or eat right away. 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. Best used within 1-2 years of processing.

How to can green beans in a pressure canner. Picking, cleaning, processing, headspace, processing times, and altitude adjustments for safe canning.

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54 Comments

  1. Love reading your canning recipes! I have been canning for well over twenty years and do things quite a bit different than you. To each his own as they say! I generally put up a lot more than you, 50 quarts of beans and 150 pints of salsa and Lord only knows how much tomato sauce I canned last year, I forgot to put it into inventory! When I can ‘big’ I don’t have to can the same thing every year and there is less danger of us running out. I DON’T buy canned food from the stores. I do ketcup and tomato soup also. Actually if I can grow it, I will dry it or can or freeze it! LoL! Love yur site and posts, Keep up the good work. More people need to get out of the stores and back to the basics!
    Rachelle

    1. Whatever works to put up food for your family is what’s right for you, as long as it’s kept clean and properly processed. 🙂 My mom’s system was a little different, too. I’m hoping for a good tomato crop this year, because the boys sure can pack away the salsa. Good to hear about your massive canning efforts. 🙂

    2. Wow, I’m so impressed by those numbers! I would love to can that much, especially since we have a fairly large family (5 kids) and we’re moving towards more and more self sufficiency. I don’t have enough garden room for that much salsa, beans or tomatoes but I could still do way more. I’m curious how your method is different, since I’m new to pressure canning. Loved reading about what you do (and having different things in different years if you do it big). Thanks for the inspiration!

      1. Now that the boys are older and we go through a *lot* of beans, I usually plant two 15 foot double rows of Emerite pole beans each year, plus a single 8-19 foot double row of Purple Podded Pole beans. In a good year, this gives us enough to can and then we barter any extras for other items from neighbors.

    3. Wow, your canning surpasses anything I have ever been involved with. I haven’t canned in over 15 years as I used to help out my friend while doing it. I want to start doing it again and this website will help me when I’m ready. Thanks for the post I always enjoy reading these. God bless

      1. Welcome, James. I was the youngest of six kids growing up on a dairy farm, so my mom always put up large amounts of canned goods each year. It’s a good feeling to have a well-stocked pantry at the end of harvest season.

        1. I have the same problem with my beans getting sour. It is not every jar. I can them all the same, they have a white film on the bottom.

          1. Are they truly sour, or is something else going on? If you have hard water, sometimes the minerals will precipitate out of solution, forming a white film at the bottom of the jar. Using iodized salt instead of canning salt may also cause discoloration issues.

          2. I’m losing green beans, too. The lid seems sealed, “pops” when opened, but beans smell spoiled and there is a white film on the bottom of jar. This is 4 or 5 months after processing. I have been canning my home grown produce for over 45 years and have not had this problem. Not with beans, tomatoes, or any fruit. I wonder if the dial gauge on the canner is going bad and will try to find a place to have it tested. If you have any other ideas, please help.

          3. Your local extension office should be able to help you test your canner. Have you had your water tested recently? The sediment in the bottom of the jar might be some sort of mineral contamination or other that would affect the flavor of the product.

    4. I canned Tomatoes for first time summer before last, i only lost 3 jars, and last summer i canned bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, and tomatos, beets,and tomato salsa,Peaches and Peach Salsa,my first time,and peach jam and i only have a few jars of jam and peaches left. I know my Granny was watching from Heaven.

    5. You should have your pressure cooker tested each year to see accurate of the pressure guage. And how much correction you need to allow for depending how far the gauge is off. Low or high. Even new gauges are off. This assures that you process it at the correct pressure and time. To be safe.

  2. How do you like the Purple Podded pole beans? We grew Royal Burgundy bush beans and loved them. Looking for a purple pole bean to try.

  3. You have tips and precautions I have not seen elsewhere. I have been dehydrating due to limited food prep and storage space. Will keep these instructions in mind for when my camp kitchen turns into a space with counters, tables and shelving. Me, too! Love those green beans! Met cutworms for the first time last year. The Anasa’azi beans did not appear to have been bothered at all beyond a few experimental grasshopper nibbles. Pole beans, bush beans, all kinds of plants hit the mulch and bunnies must have nibbled on most of what was left. Am cautiously experimenting, with emphasis on Anasa’azi’s. Thanks!

    Sandy

  4. At the end of the 25 minutes, can I remove the pressure weight or must I leave it on until it cools on its own to “0” pressure? If so, why?

    1. You should leave the weight on until the pressure goes down to zero on its own. This allows the pressure to equalize within the canning vessel and jars. If you remove the weight prematurely, the jars may rupture.

    2. Using my new pressure Barton cooker doing bean’s, it kept my pressure at 11 and I cooked for 20 minutes, but my little needle indicator never came up? The pressure held steady, will my bean’s process safely? I’ve always used an electric power cooker.

      1. I assume you’re talking about a pressure canner and pressure canning, not pressure cooking?

        I have not used a Barton pressure canner, and the online reviews indicate that the instructions that come with the canner are not very clear. I don’t know if their pressure relief valve pops up and locks like the Presto units.

        If the canner held 11 psi for the required time, the beans should be safely processed.

  5. I keep asking if you can can green beans if they have a bite or a rust mark on them. My wife’s mother told her don’t!! I’ve never gotten an answer. thank you.

    1. We try to trim out those parts when processing, although once in a while some small rust spots make it through. The chew spots aren’t as bad, but rusty beans don’t hold up so well in storage.

  6. I’ve been planting emerite pole beans for 4-5 years now. They are the BEST variety I’ve ever grown. I stumbled upon them and thought I’d try something new and have never gone back to Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder. Even those I pick that that I miss at their peak size stay fleshy and not “seedy”. The least stringless bean I’ve grown as well. I’m pleased to see you’ve discovered them too.

    1. When I first started my own garden, I tried a number of different popular varieties. Emerite beat the pants off of all of them. As you said, they hold quality even at larger sizes, and they are super productive.

  7. I’ve never canned before but am trying to start. I was wondering if anyone knows that when you are canning green beans can you add other seasonings, fatback, and butter to them or is that dangerous.

    1. It’s best not to arbitrarily add fats or protein to canning recipes, as it will affect heat transfer and processing time. If you want to can something with fat or protein, please use a tested recipe. Small amounts of dried spices may be added without affecting processing.

  8. I don’t have a pressure cooker… can I still hot water bath my green beans???!? HELP!!!

    1. Because they are low acid, green beans must be canned in a pressure canner to avoid spoilage. Pickled dilly beans – https://commonsensehome.com/dilly-beans/ – can be safely canned in a water bath canner because they have added vinegar. Otherwise, you can freeze or dehydrate your beans. To freeze beans, clean and blanch in boiling water for 3 minutes, chill, drain and pack. I prefer to vacuum seal, but you may use any freezer safe containers. For dehydrating, I again blanch for 3 minutes, chill, drain and pat dry. Most of the time I dehydrate them overnight so they are thoroughly dry. Pack in an airtight container for storage.

  9. A neighbor brought beans to a boil, packed into quart jars, but forgot to cover with boiling water before putting on the lid, went ahead and pressured the proper amount of time. The jars sealed but have no water covering the bean. What would be the solution to salvage this 7 quarts of good beans? Maybe freeze in the jar???

    1. They could be stuck in the fridge and eaten within a few days. I wouldn’t freeze them in the jars, but they could be opened and the beans repacked into freezer bags and frozen.

  10. Laurie…THANK YOU sooo much for the FANTASTIC, step-by-step, easy to understand directions…
    My beans look YUMMY……Can’t wait to eat them when our cold, Upstate NY winter arrives….We’ll enjoy our “little taste of Heaven” until next Summer’s harvest!!!!

  11. When you mentioned at the end of the article to remove the rings since they tend to rust, were you referring to the jars that didn’t seal good and were going in the fridge or do we take the rings off for long term storage?

    1. You need to keep the rings on for jars that didn’t seal (until you use them), since the lids will be loose on top of the jar. Remove rings for long term storage. All lids on jars suitable for long term storage should have lids that are tightly clamped on by vacuum pressure.

  12. Once green beans are canned, can they be stored laying on their side? Or do they need to be stored upright?

    1. I would not recommend storing jars of canned goods on their sides. I usually place mine in boxes, and will sometimes stack the boxes two layers high, but no more than that.

  13. My mom wants to freeze her green beans from her small garden until she gathers enough for pressure canning. Should she blanch them first? Could she then just thaw them out in the boiling water and use the same recipes on your site? Thanks for any insight you can give!

    1. For best quality, I don’t recommend freezing before canning. The freezing and thawing process softens the beans, and the canning process also softens them, so by the time they were through both processes, they’d be mush. Beans will hold in the refrigerator for a week or a little better, which would allow time for multiple pickings to gather more beans. Collecting them in the fridge for canning would give a better end product.

      If someone was bound and determined to freeze and then can beans, I’d make sure the thawed beans were at room temp (or warmer) before starting processing.

  14. I use the old blue canners to hot water bath my beans. I want to use pint jars. I cover my beans with water and boil how long should I boil my beans in pint jars?

  15. Any suggestions on a canner for someone who will can green beans, tomatoes but not a overwhelming amount?

    1. If you want to can green beans, you need to have a pressure canner. The Presto 16-Quart is a good unit, and the one I started with.

      If you think you might want to be able to stack pint jars in the canner at some point, you’d need a 23 quart.

      You can use a pressure canner for water bath canning, but it would be easier to have a dedicated water bath canner. (The pressure canners are heavier, and get really heavy when filled with water. It’s also a little bit tricky to keep the lid on but make sure it doesn’t build up pressure, at least on my stove, which tends to run hot.)

      Amazon stocks 21 quart enamel water bath canners with utensil sets. You may also be able to find some at your local hardware stores.

  16. Is there a purpose for adding salt to the beans? I have never cooked with salt much so i dont think id need salt to flavor them. plus my 16yr old is on low sodium diet.

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