The only way to can speckled butter beans safely is to use a pressure canner. Low-acid vegetables such as beans require a high-heat canning process to inhibit botulism growth. Pressure canners add pressure to intensify heat during the canning process. Alternative canning methods, such as boiling water canners, do not treat beans at the high, consistent temperature required to sterilize them. Canning extends the shelf-life of fresh butter beans and enables you to store soaked dry butter beans so you can skip the lengthy precooking step when you’re ready to use the beans.
Skip Additional Ingredients
Store speckled butter beans without additional ingredients, such as onions, seasoning, butter or cured meat for the best results. The heated canning process can adversely alter the textures or flavors of onions and seasoning. Fats, such as butter and the fat on bacon or ham hock, rise in a jar during storage and may breach the seal, rendering the contents unsafe. It is safe to add 1 teaspoon of salt to each jar of plain beans for seasoning, if desired.
Preparing Butter Beans for Canning
Discard discolored, shriveled or insect-damaged beans. Shell and wash fresh butter beans. Fresh beans do not require soaking or parboiling before you can them. Soak dry butter beans in cool water for 12 to 18 hours. Drain the beans, place them in a saucepan, cover them with fresh water and boil for 30 minutes.
Preparing the Jars
You don't have to sterilize canning jars in boiling water when you use a pressure canner, but you should clean and rinse them thoroughly by hand or in a dishwasher. Fill a jar loosely with fresh butter beans or parboiled dry butter beans. Do not press the beans or shake the jars to pack the contents tighter. Beans initially expand during the canning process. Filling the jars loosely reduces the risk that the expanding beans will crack the jars. Cover the beans with boiling water, leaving 1 inch of space between the top of the water and the rim of the jar. Place a new canning lid on each jar and secure it with a clean screw band.
The required pounds per square inch of pressure -- the “PSIG” -- as measured by a gauge necessary to can fresh or dried speckled butter beans varies from 10 to 15 pounds, depending on your altitude and the type of gauge on your canner. Set your canner according to the manufacturer's instructions for your altitude. Start timing the process when your canner achieves the required PSIG. Process pint-sized jars of fresh butter beans for 40 minutes; process quarts of fresh beans for 50 minutes. Process pint-sized jars of dry butter beans for 75 minutes; process quarts of dry beans for 90 minutes.
The Critical Cooling Stage
Remove the screw bands from the cooled jars. Bands can get stuck on jars during storage. The canning lid should curve inward slightly, appearing concave, if the jar processed correctly. Press the center of the lid with your finger to test the seal: lids on sealed jars should not spring or pop up when you remove your finger. Remove the lid from any jar that did not seal properly. Increase the space between the top of the water and the jar rim to 1 1/2 inches. Return the lid and screw band to the jar; reprocess the beans at the same PSIG for the same time.
Storage and Use
Store canned speckled butter beans at between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit for up to one year. Simmer canned beans until they are tender to prepare them. Cook them with onions, seasoning, ham hock or chopped bacon, if desired. Cool beans after simmering to add them to a salad.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Complete Guide to Home Canning
- National Center for Home Food Preservation: Frequently Asked Canning Questions
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Beans, Fresh Lima - Shelled
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Beans or Peas - Shelled, Dried: All Varieties
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Storing Home Canned Foods
- Photo Credit roberaten/iStock/Getty Images
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