Monday, July 8, 2013

Green Beans!

It's that time of year!  The garden is starting to come in.  The early stuff that I don't put up, the things we just eat straight from the garden, has come in beautifully.  We've been eating lots of fresh lettuce, spinach, radishes and cucumbers.  I have tons of good size tomatoes but none are red yet.  My son is just waiting on cucumbers and tomatoes mixed with vinegar and water.  We plant a grape tomato plant just for him because he likes to grab a few while he's outside playing.  

Over the weekend, in the sprinkling rain, we got our first picking of green beans.  I plant Blue Lake Bush Beans and if you are careful in picking the ripe beans, you can get a second picking off the plant.  Our first picking yielded 12 pounds of green beans.  It was time to can them!

Green beans are one of the more time consuming things to can, in my humble opinion.  I wash them after I pick them and again after they're snapped.  There always seems to be crud on them if I don't do the two washes.  My husband and I sat and snapped the ends off and snapped them into bite sized pieces.  I know some people cut them but we grew up watching our Moms and Gram snap them, so that is what we do.

After snapping, I cold pack them.  That means I don't get the beans hot before I can them, I pack the washed beans into hot jars and then cover in boiling water.  Some people add salt for flavor, due to health reasons, I don't do this.  Besides we don't need extra salt in our diet!  After putting the lids and rings on, they go in the pressure canner.  I know way back when, people would can them in a boiling water (water bath) canner and boil them for 7 hours or more.  THIS IS NOT SAFE!  Botulism is nothing to mess with.  I'm sure there are older generations who will say they've done this for years.  In reality, they've played Russian roulette with their health.  Don't do that!  Use a pressure canner!

I got my first nine jars ready to go, I only prepare what will fit in the canner at a time.  I got it started and found that the gasket on my canner failed!  My husband joked that it was only "30 years old".  It's not that old, but he's not far off...LOL.  As with most of my canning equipment, I got it used.  It was almost brand new when I got it but it was used.  So, all in all, 20 years is great for a gasket to last!  Thankfully, a friend loaned me hers (Thanks again Tracy!) so I could process my beans.

I've heard so many people say they're afraid of pressure canners.  They've heard horror stories of them blowing up.  Way back when, there were accidents with them but the new ones have built in safety features that prevent that.  There are pressure valves and safety locks.  If the canner is under pressure, you can NOT open it.  The best advice I can give you is to follow the instructions for the canner.  Even if you buy a used one, you can Google the instructions.  I do suggest that those new to canning start with things that you can process with the boiling water (water bath) method.  You can move on to the pressure canner after you get the canning process down!

After loading the canner, bringing it to pressure and processing the required 20 minutes and repeating this process until I'd worked through all 12 pounds of beans, we have 30 jars of beans canned.  

Why go through all this?  Because there is nothing like opening a jar of green beans in the middle of Winter and them tasting like someone had just came in from the garden with them.  They are THAT good!

Now, come on sunshine!  I need some tomatoes!

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