I always have such fun experimenting with new plants and varieties in the garden! This year I tried growing our own dry beans for using in soup and stew recipes over the winter. My expectations were pretty low… I had tried growing them last year as an underplanting in the dent corn (think 3 sisters) and it did horribly!
Come to think of it, everything I underplant in the corn does horribly. Whether with beans or squash, try as I might, I simply fail time and again at really utilizing that space between the rows where I’m going to struggle to get into pull weeds once the corn is grown up. I’m thinking of trying a cover crop next year and if that doesn’t work, well that will just be one extra spot I’ll have to source hay mulch to cover it with.
By giving the dried beans their own area in the garden this year, they did wonderfully! I grew Red Kidney beans, Cannellini beans, and Golden Jacob’s Cattle (which aren’t nearly as lovely once you cook them by the way.) I was able to harvest quite a bit- enough for me to can about 40 pints of beans for our pantry shelves!
Now the reason I decided to can them instead of leaving them in their dry, rustically beautiful state is because I know me well enough to realize that planning meals far enough in advance to allow for the soaking and cooking times when they’d be on the menu pretty much would never happen. It’s one of my many shortcomings. If you’d like to learn how to cook with dry beans, Joybilee Farms will teach you how (complete with an awesome printable chart!)
I found canning dry beans to be pretty simple. You do need a pressure canner because they are low-acid. If you do a lot of canning and haven’t invested in a pressure canner yet, you really should. I can’t believe it took me so long to get one, but now that I do, I use it all the time.
To can dry beans all you have to do is rinse the beans and soak them in water overnight … 1 part beans, 4 parts water. In the morning, rinse them again and then add them to a stock pot with at least double the water as beans. Bring the water to a boil for about 30 minutes until the beans are just soft enough to cut through but not mushy. Ladle them into a pint-sized canning jar, add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and then fill the jar with cooking water, leaving 1″ headspace. Then can them at 11 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes.
If you’re new to pressure canning I’m not going to detail the how-to’s of it, that’s beyond the scope of this article, but here are some resources I heartily recommend.
The trickiest part for me was timing successive batches of beans to go into the canner when the last ones were done and not have it take 4 days. Rather than boiling them, I ended up turning the cooked beans down to the lowest heat and barely simmering them after the previous batch of beans was in the canner. By reducing the heat and lengthening the cooking time to closer to 1 hour, I was able to get all but the last few pints done in one day.
How to Can Dry Beans and Peas
- dry beans
- Rinse the beans and soak them overnight in water at a ratio of 1 part beans, 4 parts water.
- In the morning, rinse the beans again and then add them to a stock pot with at least double the water as beans.
- Bring the water to a boil for about 30 minutes until the beans are just soft enough to cut through but not mushy.
- Ladle them into a pint-sized canning jar, add ½ teaspoon salt, and then fill the jar with cooking water, leaving 1" headspace.
- Can them at 11 pounds of pressure for 75 minutes. (Be sure to read about safely using a pressure canner first or watch At Home Canning for Beginners and Beyond which I highly recommend.)
I’m cracking my first jar of Cannellini beans into a pot of Chicken Chili this week… what’s your favorite recipe that uses dried beans?