Saturday, 9 November 2013

Canning Dried Beans

My husband is a chili aficionado. He LOVES the stuff, he likes to make it, and it’s usually pretty darn good. So I have relegated all chili making tasks to him. During the winter months we have chili about once every two weeks or so. We usually make a HUGE pot (in our 7 qt slowcooker), and use anywhere between two and three cans of kidney beans. When we can get them on sale, it is usually for about $0.88 a can, but lately I have noticed the non sale price to be about $1.25 a can. Since we are using 2-3 cans per batch of chili, what would normally be a fairly economical meal adds up quickly. Our solution? Enter dried kidney beans – much cheaper than cans, at about $5.50 for a 4 pound bag, but who knows an entire day in advance that they are going to cook chili. Oh wait, there are some of you that meal plan that far in advance, and trust me it is one of those things on my “to-do” list. However, in the meantime, I needed a better solution – home canned kidney beans.

Here’s how I did it.

Beans Soaking
Beans Soaking
Step 1: I started with 2 – 1.8kg (about 4lb) bags of kidney beans plus some remnants of a bag that I had leftover so I am estimating just shy of 10 pounds. Start the night before you want to do your canning by soaking the beans, I put them in my cheese making pot (a 30 qt stock pot) added water to about double above the level of the beans, I always like to add too much water instead of too little, and let them sit overnight.

Step 2: Drain the beans, rinse, and refill the pot to about 3 inches above the level of the beans. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Note: according the the canning gurus at ball you are supposed to let the beans boil for 30 minutes. Mine actually boiled for about 5 and simmered for another 10 while I got the jars ready.
Filling the jars.
Filling the jars.
Step 3: Fill up those jars. I used the handy red scoop to scoop the almost cooked beans out of the pot. You don’t want to strain the water off of the beans, because you are going to use that almost boiling temperature water to top off your jars. I filled the jars to the threads, then shook them which settled the beans down to about the shoulder of the jar. At this point you can add whatever seasonings you would like to the jar. I just stuck with salt, about 1 tsp per quart jar. Top off the jars with the hot liquid, leaving about one inch of head space in each jar.
Step 4: Wipe down the rims and put on the lids. Don’t forget to simmer your lids. Ask me how I know…
Step 5: I am not going to go into a lot of detail in the “canning” section. The way I figure, if you are looking for a guide on how to can dried beans you are already probably a competent canner. Please follow the instructions for your pressure canner. Load up your jars, lock down your lid, and wait for the steam to start exhausting.
Step 6: Wonder why after almost an hour you have no steam exhausting. Realize that you forgot to oil your seal and steam is escaping out of the back where it is not obvious. Turn off the heat and start all over again….GRRRR. Oh wait, that was just me. The rest of you can just skip to step 7.
Up to pressure - finally.
Up to pressure – finally.
Step 7: Once you are up to up to pressure, 10 pounds in the case. Let her go for 90 minutes for quarts and 75 minutes for pints.
Step 8: Turn off the heat and let the pressure return to zero before opening.
Step 9: Remove jars. I like to put my jars on a folded towel on the counter where I let them sit for 12-24 hours before removing the rings and putting them away.
10 pounds of dried kidney beans ended up being 18 quart jars, so I put on a batch dried chick peas so that I had something to run with the extra 5 quarts in the second run. While the kidney beans were canning I brought the chick peas to a boil, let them boil hard for 10 minutes, then turned off the heat, covered, and let soak. When I turned the heat off the pressure cooked I drained the chick peas added new water and put them on to re-heat. From a 4.4 pound bag of chick peas I ended up with 7 quarts of finished chick peas.
All done.
Enjoy all your hard work.
Now for the math. Did this really save us money?
  • $11.00 for the two bags of kidney beans
  • $2.50 for two boxes of lids
  • the jars were recycled.
Each jar holds about the equivalent to 2 cans of beans, and there are 18 jars which would equal 36 cans of beans that we did not have to buy. The cost for those 36 cans @ $1.00 a can would be $36.00. My cost for ingredients was $13.50. So yes, I did save money, $22.50.
The other factor that comes into play here is the time, because I understand that this is an easy but time consuming project. It does not take a lot of “hands-on” time, BUT, you do have to be close to the kitchen for at least 5 hours for a two canner load batch like I did. Actual hands on time was likely less than an hour.
So what do you think? Is a savings of over $20 worth spending 5 hours close to the kitchen? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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