Ways & How

How to Can Kidney Beans

How to Can Kidney Beans

Kidney beans and other kinds of legumes dry up naturally when left on the vine. In dried form, these beans are easy to store and can be kept in storage for up to six months as long as they are protected from moisture. After six months, the flavor tends to deteriorate. There are two good reasons for learning how to can kidney beans. First, canning extends their shelf life to a year. Second, canned kidney beans are already soft and hydrated, so you cut out a lot of cooking time per meal. Of course, canned kidney beans are not exactly rare or expensive, but those who have tried making their own will swear that the homemade version tastes much better than store-bought. To see how to go about canning kidney beans, read below:

  1. According to canning enthusiasts, one of the factors that can influence the quality of your canned beans is the hardness of the water you use for canning. Hard water will give you firm beans while softened water will turn the kidney beans soft and mushy after canning.

  2. Next, you will need to use a pressure canner.

    Kidney beans are considered to be a low-acid food, and the water bath method won’t be enough to kill the botulism bacteria. To be clear, USDA guidelines dictate that all low-acid food should be processed in a pressure canner.

  3. Aside from the pressure canner, you will also need the following supplies and materials:

    1 large pot

    Large spoons and ladles

    Ball jars with the designated rings and lids

    A pair of jar-lifting tongs

    A lid lifter (magnetic ones are the most popular)

    A jar funnel

    Some canning salt (optional)

    Dried kidney beans

  4. Five pounds of kidney beans will yield enough to fill seven quart-sized jars.  Make sure that the beans you are using are fresh. Before washing, pick through them to discard the ones that are soft, diseased, or otherwise inferior.

  5. Wash the selected beans thoroughly in cold water. After washing, you will need to soak them in water first, so get started on this while you are preparing the rest of the materials. You can simply dump them into a large pot and leave them covered with water overnight. However, a quicker way is to cook them for a few minutes in some boiling water, turn off the heat, and then leave them soaking in the hot water for at least an hour.

  6. While the kidney beans are hydrating, it’s time to wash the jars, rings, and lids. If your dishwasher does not have a sanitize cycle, you will need to sterilize them for 10 minutes in boiling water.

  7. Take the largest pot that you have and fill it with water. Get it boiling; you will use this to fill up the jars with water after they have been packed with beans. If you’ll notice, canning uses a lot of boiling water; that’s because in order to keep food spoilage at bay, you want to make sure that bacteria does not thrive during the process.

  8. Start heating up your pressure canner. In most models, this involves rinsing it out and positioning the rack plate at the bottom before filling it with about four to five inches of hot water from the tap. Turn on the stove to low heat with the lid off (this is important!) while the jars are not yet in. If your canner came with different instructions, follow those.

  9. Once the beans have finished soaking (12-18 hours if you didn’t use any heat; one hour or so if you boiled them for a few minutes prior), drain and discard the soaking water. Place them in a pot along with enough water to cover everything and let them boil for half an hour. If you like, you can add a pinch of salt for every pound of beans.

  10. After the beans are done cooking, it’s time to start packing them in the canning jars. Drain the beans, but this time save the water that they were cooked in.

  11. Using the jar funnel, fill the jars with the beans. Pack them evenly and leave an inch of space at the top of the jar. This inch is called “headspace” and in canning, it’s very important to observe the recommended amount of headspace. Too much headspace, and the jar may not seal properly; too little, and your jar could burst during processing.

  12. Using the water you cooked the beans in, fill in the spaces between the beans. Remember to only put in enough to cover the beans without eating up the 1-inch of headspace from the top of the jar. If you need more water, take some from the pot of boiling water in step 7.

  13. Cover the jars with the appropriate lid. Use the rings to seal each jar snugly.

  14. By this time, the water level in your pressure canner should have boiled to just about three inches (if it’s less than that, add a little more). Use your jar-lifting tongs to place each jar in the bottom rack. When the rack is full, put the lid on and twist it into place, but make sure that the valve is open.

  15. Turn the heat on high and let the steam escape from the vent for about 10 minutes. This will clear out the airspace inside the pressure canner.

  16. After 10 minutes, close the vent and put the weight on to let the pressure build to 10 pounds.

  17. Keep the pressure consistently on 10 pounds for 75 minutes, adjusting the temperature as needed. Note that your altitude will affect pressure; refer to your owner’s manual for adjustments.

  18. After 75 minutes, turn off the heat. Let the pressure cool down to zero before opening your canner. It can take up to one hour; don’t rush this and don’t jostle the jars in the meantime. Opening the canner before it’s time will cause liquid to evaporate from inside the jars.

  19. Once cooled, lift the jars out and set them on a towel or a wooden cutting board. Position them without touching in a draft-free spot where they won’t be bumped or jostled overnight. After they have thoroughly cooled, check that the lid is sunken. If the center of the lid pops up and down when you press with your finger, it isn’t sealed.

  20. Unsealed jars should be treated like un-canned products. Keep them in the fridge and use within a few days. You can re-heat the beans and run them through the entire process again, if you like.

Once you learn how to can kidney beans, you might find yourself hooked. Canning beans can really save you a lot of time, especially if your family loves bean-based dishes like chili. However, only process what you are sure to use up in a year to prevent waste.


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