I must confess anytime someone mentions pressure cookers it gives me the heebie geebies! I grew up with my mom telling me all these horror stories of melting skin after pressure cookers exploded in kitchens. Yikes! Who wants to have anything to do with something that can explode in your kitchen?! It took me well into my adult life to gather up my nerve to purchase one of these beasts and I only did it out of professional necessity for my personal chef business. The chef association, where I was a member, coordinated a great deal with a German manufacturer and promised me these were the professional tool that would change my service day. Boy did it! I was able to cut my service time because I could cook in a fraction of the time. All this being said, I still had never pressured canned anything and even though I’m a little more comfortable with using my cooker the thought of loading the thing with bean-filled glass sent me right back to cowering in the corner!
So for this adventure I really had to “put on my big girl panties” and decide to be brave. After all canning has been around since approximately 1809 and homemakers have been using canning as a tool for preserving food for at least the last 100 years.
(Picture Credit – Wikipedia)
Thankfully, Daja was here to hold my hand and cheer me on!
I gathered my equipment…
- Black Beans (I purchased mine through Azure Standard)
- 1 qrt Mason jars (I purchased mine through Azure Standard)
- Large water-bath canning pot (used for sterilizing the jars, lids, and bands)
- Gas burner (I have to use this because my water-bath pot is too large to fit on my stove.)
- Pressure cooker (I use the Fagor Duo 10-qrt pressure cooker/canner)
- Small Equipment: canning rack, jar lifter, funnel, ladle
- One more large pot for presoaking and cooking the beans.
Seriously, I did! Did I mention I was loading my pressure cooker with bean-filled glass? Do I have to tell you about explosions again?! (I’m trying to be funny here and I hope I’ve given you a chuckle. But, in all seriousness, make sure you follow the directions for using your pressure canner to the letter. Pressure canners are really safe now but there can still be user error. Don’t take any shortcuts with your equipment!)
I followed the instructions from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
The instructions are really simple and easy to follow. The only question I had was in regard to the recipe telling me to cook the beans at 10 pounds of pressure. Through some quick research I was able to find out that my pressure cooker on low cooks at 8 lbs per square inch and on high cooks at 15 lbs per square inch. This meant my cooking times might be off slightly, but since this was the first time I’ve tried pressure canning I followed the recipe exactly without changing the times.
Of course, during the canning process, homeschooling had to continue and Daja’s baby stayed close by playing.
First, I presoaked the beans in a large pot by bringing them to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Then I removed them from the heat and allowed them to sit for 1 hour. After that I drained and rinsed the beans; returned them to the pot; covered them with water and returned them to a boil for 30 minutes.
While the beans were boiling I got the water bath pot filled and heating to sterilize the jars, lids and bands.
While the beans were cooking and the pot outside was coming up to a boil, I also started heating the water in the pressure cooker. (Now I’m filled with memories of Grandma canning in the middle of summer with the windows in the kitchen steamed up and her hair, in a bun of course, damp from perspiration.)
I sterilized the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes and then brought them inside and started filling them with the hot beans and a teaspoon of salt.
Once the jars were filled, we hand tightened the jar lids. (Use an oven mitt! These are HOT!) Then we placed them on the rack inside the canner and sealed her up.
Once the canner came up to pressure we set a timer for 90 minutes and waited in anticipation of what would happen. Thank God I can report there were no explosions! Yeah!!
I let the pressure decrease on it’s own without using any of the quick pressure release methods. Then I opened the canner. I look terrified don’t I?!
Oh, but the excitement of seeing my first jars filled with beans ready for my provision room!!
As for lessons learned… In my first batch I was concerned about putting too many beans in and not enough liquid. My concern was that the beans would expand too much and result in, you guessed it, an explosion. Try not to laugh! My second and third batches turned out better because I filled the jars with more beans then liquid.
Lastly, and probably the most important bit of information. I did the math and compared the cost of putting up my own beans to purchasing the same quantity from the store. This is what I did…
1lb dried beans = 2 cups of beans = ~4-5 cups of cooked beans.
4 cups = 1 quart So I needed approximately 48 cups of cooked beans to do one case of quart jars.
The case of jars cost $10.00. The organic dried black beans cost $1.37/lb, both from Azure Standard.
Since I was using approximately 12lbs of beans the cost worked out this way.
(12 x $1.37) + $10.00 = $26.44
If I were to buy canned organic beans from my favorite store it would cost me $1.99/can. Assuming each 16oz can equals 2 cups I would need to purchase 2+ cans for each one of the quarts I put up. The total cost for purchase would look like this.
(2 x $1.99) x 12 = $47.76
That’s a savings of more than 50%!! I just saved myself $21.32! Next time it will cost even less because I will be able to reuse the jars and only have the cost of new lids and bands. To me, doing a little work myself was well worth the savings!
And lastly, a BIG thank you to Daja for being with me on this first adventure into canning! She took all the pictures and kept me laughing the whole time!