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There are three main methods of preservation for green beans.
Your first option is dehydrating/drying. The second option, which is quite popular, is to freeze them.
Lastly, you can bottle them up in you canning jars and put them safely in your pantry to use for the next year.
When beans are canned, they must be done so with a pressure canner and never by water-bath. There is no safe recommendation for water-bathing beans–it is never suggested.
Start with fresh off the vine (if possible) green beans. The longest part of the canning process can be the cleaning of the beans.
If you are doing a large amount, try putting them on a large screen from an old-window and spraying them with water if you have the capabilities. This should only be the first rinse.
Because beans are fuzzy, they can hold on to small fuzzy seeds and other fine material. This is best removed after the beans have again dried, and then “stripping” the beans. This is done by holding each bean firmly with your non-dominant hand, and running your thumb and one or two opposing fingers of your dominant hand down the bean from the top (where your first hand is holding it) all the way to the bottom. If you get into a groove, this isn’t such a bad job.
From here, I toss them into a sink or bucket of clean, cold water for a soak. Once all the beans (from that batch) are in the water, I swirl them around a bit, and then wait for any dirt to settle to the bottom.
Now I can scoop the beans out with my hands and decide if they need another wash/soak/rinse cycle. It is best to clean beans with a couple of rinses.
Once you are satisfied that your beans are clean, begin either snapping or cutting the tips off, pulling off any strings, and cutting into 1-2 inch pieces. I like to make sure all my beans for the batch are ready before going any further.
Once your beans are prepped, you will need to get your equipment ready. Jars that will be used for pressure canning should be as close to sterilized as possible. A dishwasher with a sterile cycle is excellent for this if you have it.
Prepare your pressure canner per your manufacturer’s instructions. Mine suggests 2-3 inches of water in the bottom, with the lid off, gently warming (but no warmer than 180 degrees F).
Get two more large pots of clean water boiling. One will be used to fill your jars.
When your second pot is boiling, remove it from it’s heat source. Once the bubbling stops, put your clean lids and rings in there until you need them.
Once all your equipment is ready, pull 2 jars at a time out of your dishwasher or hot water. Use your funnel to fill them with beans leaving 1 inch of head space. Beans should be packed in their jars.
Carefully ladle in your boiling water, leaving 1 inch of headspace again.
If you wish to add salt, now is the time. Put it directly over each jar of beans. Add 1/2 teaspoon per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart.
Continue packing beans into their jars until you are out of beans or out of jars (or out of room in your canner).
Once you have filled all the jars with hot water, use your plastic tool to go around the inside of each jar a couple of times and remove all the air bubbles. Double check that you still have 1 inch of headspace atop each jar.
Use a clean cloth to wipe the rim of each jar making sure they are all meticulously clean. If you skip this step, you may have missed seals.
Use your metal lifter to get lids out of the hot water and carefully place atop each bottle of beans. Now use the same lifter to get the rings and place these on as well. They need to be on snug, but not tight. Be sure to read instructions on your lids as the classical lids and the new reusable Tattler lids have slightly different directions.
Once the rings are on, use your jar lifter to carefully place each jar in your canner. Never place a partially filled jar in your canner.
Read your manufacturer’s instructions carefully at this point, as they may differ depending on your model.
When your canner is safely full, place the lid on and lock it in place, making sure your weight is not over the vent. Turn the heat up. Once steam is continually escaping the vent, let it do so for 10 minutes. This step is very important–do not skip it and be sure to time it so steam is escaping the full 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, place the weight over the vent. Soon, the pressure will start rising.
When the pressure gets to your desired level, start your timer. Turn your heat source down as far as you can to continue applying the same pressure. If your pressure drops below your number, you must get it back up and start the timer again. Letting the pressure rise too much can be dangerous and over-pressurize your food.
These charts are from the National Center for Home Preservation
(At 5900 feet, I process my pints for 20 minutes at 13 pounds of pressure.)
After your time has elapsed, turn your heat source off. Remove your canner from the source if it’s safe for you to do so. Otherwise, just leave it in place.
Let the pressure completely escape before taking the weight off. If any steam emits at this point, just wait until it stops. Per your manufacturer’s instructions, you may begin removing the lid at this point.
After all signs of pressure are gone, I turn my lid back to an open position and let it sit another minute. If no noises or other signs of pressure are present after a minute, I will slowly lift the lid tilted away from me making sure I am not leaning over the canner.
Let the contents sit for 20 minutes or so as they adjust to room air pressure. After sitting, use your jar grabber to carefully remove each jar one at a time. Set on a cooling rack or on a towel. Make sure jars are all at least 1 inch away from each other.
I let my jars sit for 12-24 hours and cool completely before checking the seal. If there is no seal, they go in the fridge and are used within 2 days.
Wipe the threads of the jars and clean the lids. Let both completely dry. Jars may be stored without lids at this point, or you may replace them once they are both completely dry.
*Disclosure: I cannot take responsibility for your skill. Just like I am the only one responsible for the foods I prepare for my family, you are the only one responsible for the foods you prepare for your family. It is very important that you follow safety standards at all times. I follow the guidelines outlined in my Ball Blue Book, and highly suggest you do too. This post is not intended to teach you how to use a pressure canner. There are other things not mentioned here that are important for you to know if you are just learning. I also highly suggest having a well-seasoned canning friend with you to help you learn the ropes, or take classes. My friend Melissa teaches classes via videos—you should look into these if you are new to canning. (She also teaches you how to can by water bath.)*