You can save on your grocery bill when you grow your own food. This is especially true when you learn to preserve and store foods. If you’re a green bean lover, you may decide to grow your own or buy in bulk from a local grower. There are three ways to preserve and store beans. Each has its benefits. You may wish to use more than one of these methods to ensure your food is available when you need it.
I personally prefer to can our food as much as possible. We’ve had power failures in the past and the foods stored in the freezer were threatened. During Hurricane Hugo, we lost everything in our freezer when we were without power for 10 days. That was when I decided canned food was the best way to protect our food source.
Harvesting and Storing Green Beans
Once you’ve harvested beans or bought from your local farmer’s market, try to prepare them immediately by washing and either cutting or snapping (I prefer snapping while watching TV). If you can’t get to the beans until a day or two later, then place the unwashed beans in a self-sealing plastic bag until you can wash, cut/snap and process for storing. Can only crisp beans. Soft beans are too old and won’t taste good.
Three Ways to Store Green Beans
Some people only store enough beans for the off seasons, while others like to build up a cache that can last them for a year or more. Always use a first-in-first-out process when stocking shelves or freezers.
Canning is perhaps the most widely used method for preserving and storing green beans. This process is easy once you get over the intimidation everyone feels the first time they try to can.
When growing up, our family ate green beans that had been canned five years earlier and they tasted as though they just came out of the garden. When canned properly, foods can have a longer shelf-life than what the agriculture extension service states. This can save you a lot on the grocery budget. In addition, having at least a year or more of homegrown vegetables is a big plus for your family’s food security.
- Snap or cut the beans and then wash.
- Fill canner with three inches of hot water and keep warm until needed.
- Place in a large pot; fill with water about two inches from the rim.
- Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Keep jar lids and rings in hot water until needed (don’t boil).
- Sterilize jars and keep hot until used.
Filling the jars:
- Use a funnel to ladle the beans into jars.
- Fill with leftover water from when you simmered the beans.
- Fill so you leave a 1-inch header.
- Use the canning tool (including in canning kit) to remove bubbles by inserting along the sides and center of the jar.
- You may need to add more beans. Continue releasing the bubbles,
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt (can use canning salt).
- Wipe rim with clean cloth or paper towel.
- Place lid and ring on each jar.
- Tighten ring, but not too tight. You just want the rings to fit snuggly on the jar.
- Place jars in the canner on top of the canner rack. Keep jars from touching.
- Secure the canner lid, but leave the steam vent open.
- Turn the range eye on high and allow the canner to vent steam for 10 minutes.
- Place the weighted gauge over the vent.
- The pressure will build against the gauge and the gauge will begin to wobble.
- You’ll need to turn down the heat so that the gauge wobbles 3-4 times per minute.
- Pint jars require 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes.
- Quart jars require 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.
- You may need to adjust the pounds of pressure and time if you live at a high altitude (check the instructions that came with your canner.
Once the time is up turn off the range:
- Lift the canner off the eye and allow it to cool naturally. Don’t remove the weighted pressure gauge. Monitor the pressure dial until it is on zero.
- Unlock the pressure cook and remove jars with the canning kit jar lifter.
- Place jars 4-6 inches apart on a towel in a space that won’t be disturbed.
- Don’t touch the jars for 24 hours.
- You’ll hear the famous popping sound as the jars cool and the lids seal.
- Remove rings.
- Test lid seals by pressing the center of the lids. If the lid doesn’t give, your jar is sealed. If the lid moves up and down, the seal didn’t take. Place that jar in your refrigerator and use within 5 days.
- Write canning date and type of bean on the lid and store on a shelf or cupboard.
Another popular way to store beans is to freeze them. This requires blanching. To blanch green beans:
- Place in water and bring to a boil.
- Maintain the boiling point for three to four minutes.
- Remove and drain in a colander.
- Submerge into a bowl of ice water immediately.
- Drain again and then fill freezer containers, bags or use a vacuum sealer.
- Write date and contents and place in freezer.
This method isn’t as commonly used, but can be an alternative way to process green beans.
- Blanch the beans in a small amount of boiling water for about 3 minutes.
- Arrange the green beans on your dehydrator trays, making sure the beans don’t overlap.
- Turn on your food dehydrator and set the temperature between 125°F and 135°F (or per your food dehydrator’s instructions).
- Drying time: between 6-8 hours.
- You can store dried beans in glass jars, self-sealing plastic bags or you may prefer to vacuum seal.
Preserving and Storing Green Beans
Whatever method(s) you decide for preserving and storing your beans, your budget will enjoy the savings. Once you get into the rhythm of canning, freezing or dehydrating your food, you’ll find it easy and very satisfying every time you use these treasures for a family meal.