I have edited this page to reflect the issue of canning dried beans without pre-cooking them. The USDA says not to do it and I always stand by their research (or lack thereof). I’m leaving the post up so you can see what I did. Read the next post for the reason for changing my precedure. Thanks. Kathy

We eat a lot of beans around here. I am a particular fan of black beans, kidney beans and garbanzo beans but we also like baked navy beans. I often add some pork and barbecue sauce for a quick meal on a cold night. Of course, we all know that baked beans are the perfect food for when the power is out. Canned beans are not all that expensive but the price has been creeping up, especially if you are looking for organic beans. The days of five cans for a dollar are long gone and even the three for two dollar sales are fewer than ever. Dried beans are still bargain though, especially if you buy them in bulk. The problem is that dried beans need time and lots of it. The solution is to purchase the dried beans in bulk and pressure can them yourself. I have done this several times with variable results. One thing I have learned is that old beans don’t cook up very well. I know some people with beans that have been in storage for 10 years. I fear that they will be disappointed when they cook them up. I have also found that most recipes for canning dried beans ask you to presoak them or even pre-cook them which in my mind defeats the purpose. This weekend I fooled around with a few recipes and came up with one that works well for baked beans. The flavor was good and the texture was perfect. I will make some changes to my next batch. Here’s what I did.

I started with organic dried navy beans. I paid $2.09 a pound for them from the bulk bin at our little grocery. I’m sure you could get them cheaper at a larger store of=r from your co-op. I made up a sauce of a quart jar of tomato sauce, 2 tablespoons of molasses and a big squirt of mustard. This simmered while I filled the jars. Next time I will substitute maple syrup for the molasses because I have a lot of syrup. I washed our 8 pint canning jars and put 1/2 cup of dry beans (not soaked) in each jar. I added a few rings of onion and a bit of salt pork to each jar. I would not add the salt pork again. It was bacon last year’s pig and I found the flavor a bit too smoky for us. I would use plain ham in the future. I added a cup of the hot sauce to each jar of beans then filled each jar with boiling water. I put on hot lids and rings and gave each jar a shake to mix the ingredients before putting them in my canner. Here was the big difference. I canned the beans at 15 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. I don’t need to use that much pressure for my elevation but I found the beans were nice and soft which is not always the case at 10 pounds of pressure. I checked the jars this morning and discovered that one had not sealed so I heated that one up for breakfast. It was a bit smoky but still very good.

I have found when following somebody else’s recipes that there is seldom as much sauce or brine as I want. I made sure there is plenty of sauce for these beans and I’ll write down the recipe in my canning notebook. Today I hope to can up black beans. The pint jars are just right for us but if you double the recipe you can easily do quarts although it will require 90 minutes.

Bruce and I went to a church auction on Saturday night. We won the auction for a cord of firewood and I donated an afternoon in my canning kitchen. I was surprised that the bidders were all men! The fellow who won will be coming by next week. I’m looking forward to doing lessons for one person at a time. I can really concentrate on their particular needs.

The kitchen is just about finished. The water is in (what a pleasure to have running water) and it drains right out to the garden so there is no waste. The counters are in and it all looks wonderful. I need only the on-dmand hot-water heater to be complete. I’ll be posting a video tour of the kitchen next week on my other site, http://www.preservingabundance.com. I have let that site go but I plan to revive it with a serialized story (lots of canning and preparedness tips but no zombies or religion), more videos and lots of recipes. I hope my faithful readers will join me there.

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