Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Country Life = Bean Season

At our house in the country, July means it's time to start canning green beans. If you've never had home-canned green beans, you're missing out. They taste soooo much better than the ones you buy in the store.

The Presto canner on the right is mine - I guess I've had it for 20 years or so. The Maid of Honor canner on the left is my mom's. I was born in 1962, and it's the only pressure canner I remember her ever using. I suspect she was using it well before that. Still works great!

I love using her old canner, because it takes me back to her kitchen, and the many summers when I helped her can. I see her snapping beans, hear her laughter and instructions (make sure your jar rims are clean! don't let the pressure get too high!)

When she could no longer can, I took her canner home with me, and now I use it every summer. I know without looking at the manual how to use it, but I get it out anyway, because in mom's handwriting are extra notes that I love to skim over. She may be gone now physically, but she is very much beside me in spirit as I use that canner!
Jars ready to process in canner

From another woman who had canned many, many years, I learned this tip: when you are canning green beans, if you don't have enough to completely fill a canner, finish the canner off with dried beans from the grocery store. You can use the white soup beans, or the brown ones, which I show in this photo. Just put a cup of dried beans in a quart jar, add 1/2 tsp. salt, and fill with hot water. Process with the green beans as usual.

Jars after processing

My two canning tips would be this:

Use 2 pressure canners if you have much produce. It speeds up the process so much! As you know if you are a canner, you can't open the canner till the pressure goes down, so if you have a second batch to do, you have to wait. Now that I have mine and mom's, I have the second one on the stove processing while the first one is still cooling down.

The other tip is to use jar lifter tongs like the ones in the photo. Mom never had any, and neither did I. We just used hot pads, and got burned a few times. Last summer, George got me the tongs. So much safer!!! And easier!!!

One of my favorite sounds is the Ping! as the jars seal. A very satisfying sound!

And finally, an aside to Jessica........can you smell them? I know how you looove the smell of green beans being canned! Ha!

1 comment:

Jo said...

Last weekend when it was soooo hot and our A/C was on the fritz ... I thought back to all those summers when Mom canned in that hot kitchen with no A/C. How on earth did she do that? What a woman!!!

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