Canning beans is a great way to preserve your garden’s bounty to enjoy all year long. However, not all bean varieties are equally suited to canning. Certain types hold up better to the canning process and result in a tender, flavorful product once processed. This guide will overview the best bean varieties for home canning and provide tips to ensure safe, high-quality results.
Bean Varieties Well-Suited to Canning
When choosing which beans to grow for canning purposes, opt for varieties that have these desirable qualities:
- Sturdy cell structure – Beans with a sturdy internal structure are less likely to break down and become mushy when canned. Waxy bean varieties tend to hold up better than string beans.
- Mild flavor – Beans with a subtle, mild bean flavor allow the flavors of added seasonings to shine through. Heavily flavored bean varieties can become overpowering when canned.
- Mid-sized beans – Beans that are too large or too small can be tricky when it comes to proper canning. Focus on beans of medium size for even heating and texture.
- Productive plants – Look for prolific bean plants that produce abundant quantities of beans to make the canning process efficient.
Some of the best options for canning include:
- Navy beans – Small, mild white beans perfect for soups and baked beans. Sturdy texture.
- Pinto beans – Popular Southwest bean with a delicate flavor. Ideal size for canning.
- Great Northern beans – Large white beans that remain firm when canned. Great for stews.
- Cranberry beans – Creamy white beans mottled with red. Holds shape well when canned.
- Black beans – Classic black beans develop a rich broth when canned. Play well with bold seasonings.
- Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) – Earthy, buttery flavor. Sturdy beans can be used in many dishes after canning.
Tips for Canning Beans
Follow these guidelines for safe, high-quality canned beans:
- Can recently harvested beans – For the best flavor and texture, can beans within a day of harvesting. The fresher the better.
- Select mature, crisp beans – Beans should be mature enough that the seeds just fill the pod. Overly young, overly mature beans don’t can well.
- Wash beans thoroughly – Gently wash beans under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris.
- Trim ends – Clip off the stem and blossom ends of beans with a paring knife. This allows better penetration of heat.
- Follow tested canning methods – Refer to current USDA or Ball canning guides. Pressure canning is recommended over water bath.
- Use proper headspace – Leave 1-inch headspace for pints, 1.5-inches for quarts. This allows room for expansion during heating.
- Adjust time for higher elevations – Increase processing time by 5 minutes if canning at altitudes of 1,000 – 6,000 feet above sea level.
- Allow to rest – Don’t retighten lids after removing jars from canner. Let canned beans rest undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
- Check seals and visually inspect – Before storing, check jar lids to ensure a proper vacuum seal formed. Look for any signs of spoilage.
- Store in cool, dark place – For best retention of quality, store canned beans in a dark place between 50°F and 70°F.
What are Signs of Spoiled Canned Beans?
With careful canning methods, canned beans should easily stay shelf-stable for a year or more. However, occasionally spoiled beans may occur. Signs of spoilage include:
- Broken or unsealed jar lids
- Cloudy bean liquid or white sediment at bottom of jar
- Bulging jar lids, loose or bulging bottoms
- Mold, sliminess, or unpleasant odors upon opening
- Beans appear shriveled, mushy, or discolored
If a jar exhibits any signs of spoilage, do not use the beans or even taste them. Properly dispose of the entire contents of the jar. Never rely on aroma or taste alone to determine safety. When in doubt, throw it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can all bean varieties be canned?
Not necessarily. Stick to types known for canning well, like navy, pinto, black beans. Avoid wax beans, snap beans, large lima beans.
Do beans need to be pre-cooked before canning?
No pre-cooking is needed. Raw pack beans directly into hot jars before pressure canning. No blanching required.
What’s better – raw pack or hot pack beans?
Both methods work well. Raw packing is faster. Hot packing helps beans hold shape better. Use tested recipes for each type.
How do I avoid mushy canned beans?
Overprocessing causes beans to become mushy. Follow recommended canning times precisely. Err on the side of slightly underprocessing if concerned.
Why do my canned beans lose broth/liquid?
Natural bean starches can make liquid thicker. It’s okay for some broth loss to occur. Avoid overtightening lids or tipping/sloshing jars post-canning.
Can I adjust seasonings in a canned bean recipe?
Yes, you can add seasonings or tweak them, as long as you use an amount approved in a tested recipe. Avoid major additions or subtractions.
How long will properly canned beans last sealed?
If stored in cool, dark place, canned beans can last 12 months or longer before quality starts to decline. Always inspect seals and contents before eating.
Enjoy Your Canned Bean Bounty!
With the right bean varieties and proper canning methods, you can stock up on convenient, home-preserved beans to enjoy for months to come. Navy bean stew in the middle of winter? Homemade baked beans in just minutes? You’ll be ready thanks to your canning efforts. Happy harvesting and canning!