Remember as a child, the story of the ants who spent all summer and fall collecting food for the winter and the grasshopper who just played all day; then ended up starving and cold when the snow fell? This story always comes to mind as I gather all of my necessary tools for canning. I am like the little ants, carefully tending to my garden all summer, gathering my bounty and canning it to supply my family with food for the winter months.
Since this is my first batch I am canning, I am very excited! Ask me how fun canning is in a month, and some grunts and other cave man like noises may trickle from my lips. I better get a move on to, because I have many green beans to can! If you have young children like I do, I would highly suggest you do not start this project at 9 at night when they go to sleep. It will be 4am and youíll still be up trying to finish your canning.
There are 2 ways to can. You either must use a pressure cooker or a water bath canner. This have everything to do with the acidity of the foods you are canning. Acidic foods like Tomatoes must be canned in a water bath, while foods with lower acidic levels must be done in a pressure cooker. I do not have my own pressure cooker or water bath yet, but I do hope that Santa may drop off a New water bath canner this year. Iíve been dreaming at pressure cookers too but I think I will splurge soon and get my own.
Since I am canning green beans, I must use a pressure cooker. I think I try to always can green beans first because of my slight fear of pressure cookers. Pressure cookers are not to be used lightly. ALWAYS read your directions fully on how to properlly use a pressure cooker. Seriously, they are no joke. Newer cookers come with a little extra valve that will open when there is too much pressure so your lid wont fly off. If you find a pressure cooker at a garage sale, flea market, etc. always check the condition before you buy it. Check the rubber rim that rests in the lid to make sure there are no cracks in it. If there is no instruction manual, try to find one you can print online.
You can be seriously injured if you do not follow the instructions and make sure all parts of the pressure cooker are in good working order. One of my husbands co-workers suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns on his face, neck, chest and arms due to a pressure cooker exploding while he was in the kitchen. Luckily, the lid didnít explode into his face or he very well could have died.
Think about it, boiling water in a canner creating pressure to cook the contents inside exploding into your face. Yes, newer cookers have many safety features to greatly reduce these risks. But if you are using an older cooker you have to be careful. Above all else, when you have finished canning and are going to take the lid off; open the lid away from your face. Unless of course, your face needs a very serious steaming.
Since I donít have a pressure cooker of my own yet I am borrowing my moms. While I have grown up using it with my mom, I think my biggest fear is that my kids are going to run through my kitchen and knock it while itís hot on the stove. As soon as this cookers starts jiggling we are going to go play outside while it cooks since my 2 year old canít always be trusted right now. (He has been such a stinker the past week! And to think 3 is so much worse than 2!) There, end rant on the safety precautions one must follow while canning.
While you are picking your green beans, make sure that they are not too big. If they are getting ìcurvesî where the seeds are inside..they are too big. My grandmother told a story of friends who never canned a green bean that was wider and bigger than their pinky finger. I am not that picky, so I use all but the ones that are too seedy.
Make Sure You Pick Your Green Beans Before They Look Like This!
I picked all of my green beans and threw them in my CLEAN sink. I filled my sink with cold water to give the beans a good rinse. I drain the sink and do that 2 more times. Then I just snip off the ends and cut the green beans into pieces. I snip all of my ends off first, then I just line up 6-7 green beans on my cutting board and cut them all at once. Nobody in my family is going to care if the beans arenít all uniform. This is probably the longest part of canning green beans. Just standing there snipping ends can take what seems like an eternity.
I do cheat from time to time. If I know I wont have time to do everything in 1 day. I will prep all the green beans first, through them in Ziploc bags and put them in the fridge. Then when I wake up the next day I just pull them out and finish the canning process. When my kids are older they will be able to help me do it all and I wonít have to break up canning into days. Growing up if I wanted to do something; say have the neighbor girls stay the night or vice versa we had to weed the garden. Pretty genius mom and dad. Iíll have to use that one when my kids are older.
Once you have cut your green beans and assembled them into jars with salt and water, donít forget to wipe the rims of the jars! 1 grain of salt can stop the lids from sealing correctly. Run them through your pressure cooker and cross your fingers. once removed you may hear the lids making a slight pop sound indicating that they have sealed. Smile and give yourself a pat on the back. If jars donít seal, you can try again. However I find that if 1 jar doesnít seal, I just use those green beans for dinner the next day. Iím not going through the whole process of canning for 1 jar.
21 Jars and Counting!
Donít forget to label your jars. It is best to use your canned goods within a year. Iím sure you can keep them longer, but I make sure to use them before the year is up. Always bring them to a boil when cooking them, and then savor in the yummy taste of your hard work! I know Iíll be canning green beans at least once a week until my plants stop producing, so Iím in for a long haul of late nights and a humid kitchen!
So until my children nap again-Cheers!