I am really good about rotating my stored food supplies with one notable exception. I don’t rotate my dried beans nearly enough. It is just so darn easy to grab a can of beans. We eat a lot of them in any case and on those nights when I am not in the mood to cook an elaborate meal, canned beans come to the rescue. Last night was one of those nights. I had spent the day cleaning the kitchen and washing down all of the cabinets and I was in no shape to even think about dinner. It was so easy to mix up a can of black beans, a can of corn and a can of diced tomatoes with some taco spices, layer it in flat bread with some cheese and green house lettuce and call it a burrito. Everybody had seconds but I had a little lingering guilt. I could have easily put the beans on to soak the night before, cooked them while I cleaned and had plenty for dinner as well as beans to eat for the rest of the week. For whatever reason, I tend to not do it.
The thing is, in a crisis, I am going to want the canned beans. They take almost no energy to prepare and are so versatile. It makes sense to use up the dried beans for everyday use. There is also the money issue. Canned beans are about twice the cost of dried, even when I get the cans on sale. so what to do. The obvious answer is to can my dried beans. I have done it before and it is just as easy as canning anything else. Soak the beans overnight in plenty of water. In the morning, drain the beans (save the water for your plants) cover with cold water by 2 inches and boil for 30 minutes. Pack hot beans in hot jars. Ladle the cooking water over the beans in each jar. leaving an inch of head space. You can add a 1/2 teaspoon of salt if you want. Remove the air, adjust the caps and process pints for 1 hour and 15 minutes, quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at 10 pounds of pressure. I am going to do pints as I can fit 14 pints in my pressure canner. as I can do two canner loads at a time, I can have 28 pints finished in just a few hours. If I do this once a week, I can fill up my storage shelves with a years worth of canned beans in a few weeks. I have so many extra jars and this is a better use for them than just storing them empty.
Another positive here is that I can can beans in the late autumn and winter. The garden push is over and the heat is welcome addition to the kitchen. I can do a couple of batches of beans and a few of nuts on those days when I am looking for a project. What better way to spend a day?
This is just an aside. I was in the supermarket this week and found a big rack of marked down kitchen items. I got my 18-year-old foster daughter a set of dishes, complete with flat wear and glasses for under $7.00. I also picked up a lot of things like can openers and measuring spoons for $.50 each. These things are going in the nesting box she is getting for Christmas. Her large gift is nearly complete thanks to this sale and I only spent about $15.00. I know she is going to be delighted with this stuff as she is looking forward to living in her own apartment in another 18 months.