Canning Green Beans
A Few Things To Know About Canning Green Beans
If you're new to canning your own food, you might try canning green beans first, as the process is quite straightforward and less can go wrong than is the case with many other vegetables. If you want a little variety there are several different ways of canning green beans. You don't have to stick to the "pack the beans in a jar and pour boiling water over them" method every time.
Can Or Freeze? - There are those who would just as soon freeze fresh green beans. Admittedly freezing is a much simpler process than canning, and unless you're planning on storing a couple of bushels of green beans, freezing them might be worthy of consideration. Canned beans have a much longer shelf life, and can sit in the pantry or a cooler part of the house for a couple of years if need be. Frozen beans start to lose their flavor and texture after about a year. Freezing might also be the best option if you're canning green beans grown in your own garden and they're getting ready for picking in stages and not all at once. You don't want to pick beans and have to set them aside for a few days while you wait for more. You want to can them when they're still very fresh.
A pound of green beans will usually fill two quart canning jars, and you can either set aside enough jars for the number of pounds of beans you have, or pick or purchase the right amount of beans for the number of jars you plan to can. Beans left over? Freeze them, pickle them, or just have them for dinner.
Some prefer canning green beans using a pressure cooker while others prefer using a water bath instead. It doesn't much matter insofar as the taste and texture of the final product is concerned. It's really a matter of which process you prefer, though canning with a pressure cooker is generally considered to be the easiest method.
Sealing The Jars - When packing the beans in the quart canning jars, which should be washed in boiling water to make certain they are sterile, make certain to wipe the rims and jar lips with a hot wet cloth before putting on the rims and screwing on the caps. The key to success is to achieve a perfectly tight seal between the rims and the lip of the jar, and for that to happen the lip of the jar needs to be moist when placing on the lid and screwing it down tight. Otherwise, your carefully canned green beans might spoil or be unsafe to eat. You can check the seal after the cooking process has been completed and the jars have cooled down by tapping on the lid with your fingernail or a pencil. If you get a hollow sound everything is fine. A dull thud means the seal didn't take and you might as well serve the beans for dinner that same evening.
Blanching Isn't Mandatory - Usually green beans don't need to be blanched to preserve the color, whereas other vegetables often do. Some like to blanch green beans anyway. Blanching kills certain enzymes which, if left to their own devices may discolor the beans over time. Beans are blanched by immersing them in boiling water for 3 minutes, then immersing them immediately in icy cold water, letting them sit for another 3 minutes.
At Least Snip Off The Ends - As far as preparing the beans, it's advisable to snip 1/4" or so off each end before putting them in the canning jars. Some like to can green beans without cutting them any shorter, while others cut them in to 1" segments. Some cut the beans straight across while others cut at an angle. Still others slice the beans lengthwise. How to do it is really up to you. It's just a matter of what you want your beans to look like at the dinner table.