How to Can Green Beans: What Everybody Ought to Know

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When canning green beans, or other fruits and vegetables, it is comforting to know the quality of the food and any added ingredients is entirely under control. Don’t want added sugar, salt, or other additives? Just do not include them. Canning foods fresh from the garden means the vegetables have a high concentration of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Home canned foods have an extremely long shelf life. Here is a easy method to teach anyone how to can green beans.

What are the Various Canning Methods for Fruits and Vegetables?

There are three ways foods can be preserved by canning. Foods are canned by using the open kettle method, water bath canners, or steam pressure canners. The open kettle method is not recommended for low acid vegetables like green beans. Because steam pressure cookers vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, home canners should follow the specific manufacturer’s instructions for their model when canning green beans. This article discusses how to cold pack and process green beans using a water bath canner.

Nutrition Benefits of Canning Green Beans

Before learning about canning green beans, let us explore why one should can them and nutrition facts about green beans. For starters, green beans are a rich source of vitamins A and K, and they also furnish calcium, manganese, potassium, fiber, and folate. Those who want to improve their health through nutrition reap these benefits:

  • Better bone and cardiovascular health
  • Strengthened immune systems
  • Anti-inflammatory protection
  • Lowered risks of some types of cancer

Now that you know why it is important to have a source of nutrient-dense canned green beans for your family’s health, let’s learn the step-by-step process.

Canning Green Beans in a Water Bath Canner: Hot Pack versus Cold Pack?

Green beans can be canned by either the hot or cold pack method, and there are pros and cons to both. The major disadvantage of using the hot pack method is it adds an extra step to the process, as the beans must be blanched first, and it requires the individual to work with hot foods, increasing the risk of getting burned. This article focuses on the cold or raw pack method of canning green beans in a water bath canner.

Supply List for Canning Green Beans

Before starting a canning session, assemble all the necessary tools and supplies. Process only the amount that will fit into the water bath canner; it is easier and more fun to do one or two canner loads per day. The following supplies are needed:

  • Water bath canner with rack
  • Canning jars
  • Two-piece metal caps (lids and screw bands)
  • Saucepan for keeping lids hot
  • Green beans
  • Kosher salt
  • Magnetic lid lifter (optional, but nice)
  • Jar lifter (optional, but may prevent burns)

A pair of steel tongs can be used in place of the magnetic lid lifter, but may become overheated and cause an injury. Use extreme caution when handling hot jars or other canning items.

Canning Green Beans in a Water Bath Canner: Preparing the Beans and Jars

Here is a simple method for preparing the green beans and canning jars.

  1. If using green beans from the garden, pick them when the pods are brilliant green and come to a point at the end. If purchasing beans, the best time to buy them is during the summer or in the early fall.
  2. Sort the beans and discard any that are shriveled or diseased. Break the stems off, string them if necessary and break them into bite-size pieces and place in a colander.
  3. Wash the beans thoroughly – at least twice, but three or four times is better – and swish and move them around to remove any dirt or debris.
  4. Prepare the jars and lids by inspecting them closely for any nicks, cracks, or other visible damage that may prevent jars from sealing properly. Wash them in hot water with a lot of detergent, and then rinse well. Most experts recommend using new jar lids for each canning session, but the screw bands can be reused if they are in good condition.
  5. The lids and bands do not need to be sterilized, but they should be kept in hot water until needed, and so should the canning jars. Use caution when handling hot jars or lids to prevent burns.

The next section talks about cold packing the green beans.

How to Cold (or Raw) Pack Green Beans for Canning

Fill the canning jar with beans, using hands or a funnel, and gently shake the jar to distribute the beans evenly. When the beans approach the top of the jars, push them down gently with clean hands, and leave one inch of headspace. Pack the jar as full as possible by hand packing, and then use a butter knife to remove any air bubbles. This is easily done by running the knife between the jar and the beans several times.

Sprinkle one teaspoon Kosher salt over the top of the green beans (this step is optional, and can be omitted by those on low sodium diets), and then use a clean cloth to wipe the lids and threads of the jar. Add cold tap water to cover the beans and use the magnetic lid lifter to remove a lid from the hot water and place it on the jar. Place a metal screw band on the jar and hand tighten it. Place the jar into the rack inside the water bath canner and repeat the process until the canner is full.

Canning Green Beans: the Water Bath Process

Pour water over the jars until the tops are covered by about one to four inches of water, and place the canner on the stove over high heat. Bring the water to boiling, and process the green beans for four hours. Check the water level of the canner periodically and add more water if necessary - do not let the water level go below the jar tops. Be sure to use boiling water if it is necessary to add water; cold water will stop the cooking process and cause the jars to break.

At the end of the processing time, take the canner off the stove. Let the contents cool to room temperature. Remove the jars one at a time, and check the lids. Re-tighten them if necessary, (use a towel or potholder to protect hands if jars are still hot), and turn the jar upside down. Leave the jars overnight to seal – you may hear a loud pop as they seal.

In the morning, check the seal of each individual jar by pressing it in the center. The domes should stay down when depressed. If any jar failed to sealed, repack the contents and reprocess it, or use the food immediately.

Store the jars in a cool, dry, dark place until ready to use. To prepare, open the jar and pour contents into a large saucepan. Heat to boiling, and reduce heat to low; simmer for about five minutes. Season to taste.

For more information about the benefits of growing and canning ones own produce, read “Ways to Earn Money While Homesteading.”

Sources

Fresh Preserving, “Step-by-Step Fresh Preserving of Low-Acid Foods,” accessed 06/28/2010

Ball Blue Book, Ball Corporation, 1974