I know that many, many of you out there home can and have been doing this for quite some time. For those of you who fall into this category, the recipes today will mean very little to you.
If you fall into the category though of not being a canner for very long, or maybe not ever, then this may be of some help.
Deb and I both love to can, and I think the food tastes so good upon opening the jar and warming it for supper. This type of storage has no need for refrigeration, but can literally sit on a shelf, four to five years with no problem. This statement is true, IF prepared safely and properly. Just keep it in a cool, dark spot.
Today we’ll be canning fresh string beans and squash from the garden.
Canning String Beans and Squash:
Deb and I pop off the ends of the beans, just past where the bean attaches to the bush, and the other end. Very little pieces. We then break them into 1 to 1-1/2 inch lengths, and wash them well.
We have one pot of water boiling, and I roll the mason jars (quarts) in this water to sterilize our jars. I take them out, and run hot tap water in them, filling them up, and allow them to sit in the sink. I place the rings and lids in a small pot of WARM water too.
I’ve had my pressure cooker heating up the water in it, while preparing everything I just described above.
We then start taking the washed string beans and filling the jars with them, packing them fairly tight. I personally, though I’ve never seen it mentioned in any recipe, put in ½ strip of bacon in the jar once half filled with beans, and we’ve never had a problem…never. I do this only for flavor. At that point we finish filling the jar.
Once the jar is filled, wipe the rim of the jars to clean, then we put the lid in place and screw the ring on. We place the jars into the pressure cooker, and place the lid on to cook. Make sure your lid seats good. Our cooker holds 7 quarts.
I start the cooker off on high, we use one of our large stove top burners. Once the steam starts coming out steady from the vent of the pressure cooker, I put on the jiggler.
Here in Florida, I process the beans and the squash at ten pounds of pressure. Higher elevations use different pressure. Just check your book that comes with your pressure cooker, and it will tell you in regards to your area of the Country.
With my burner still on high, I wait for the jiggler, well…to start jiggling! How’s that for a description?
Once it starts, I leave the burner on high for a couple minutes to let it going good. At that point I turn the burner down, and cook from there on out, at between 4-1/2 to 5-1/2 on the burner setting.
I pressure cook the string beans for 25 minutes, this time starts AFTER the jiggler starts going good.
Once your cooking time has elapsed, turn off the burner, and move the pressure cooker off the hot burner. I just set ours to the other side of the stove.
There is a stem on the top of your pressure cooker that will be standing up, this is showing you the cooker has pressure built up inside. DO NOT try to take the lid of the pressure cooker UNTIL the stem sits back down flush with the cooker lid. This is the style pressure cooker I have.
They make cookers with gauges, and with these models there may not be a stem, you may simply have to rely on your guage showing you there is no pressure in the cooker. I’m not sure about this, but thought I’d mention it.
At this point it is safe to take the lid off the cooker, and take out your jars of cooked vegetables. I have a set of tongs to remove the jars from the cooker. These you can purchase, or they may come with the pressure cooker when you purchase it.
We put down about three hand towels, one on top of the other on an adjacent counter top to keep the heat from the jars from directly sitting on our counter top. I’m sure there are other ways to cool your jars.
These jars will be scalding hot, so handle with care. You can literally see through the jars at the vegetables still cooking after you remove them from the cooker. After just a few minutes, sometimes almost immediately, you hear the lids start to ping. This is telling you the jars have sealed properly.
Once they have cooled all the way, take a finger and press down on the lid. If you hear a ping at this point, then this means your jar didn’t seal properly. Use this immediately, for supper that night, whatever. If not, and if you store it away, this jar of food WILL go bad on you.
One other thing. I do can some of our string beans with new potatoes, this is not a problem. I just cut them up into little bite size chunks, and cook them exactly as I do the string beans by themselves.
Can your squash exactly as you do your string beans. There are only a couple things I do differently. First, I love onions in my squash, so in each jar I mix onions with my squash. This is up to you how much onion to use, it only depends on your personal taste.
Everything else stays the same, except I don’t put bacon into my squash either. Now that I said that, I’ve gotten myself wondering why? I may try this next batch for more flavor, but I only use ½ slice per jar.
The biggest difference though is my cooking time. Squash, I pressure cook for 40 minutes, this is for quart jars.
Once more, other than those couple of things, your squash and string beans are canned exactly the same way!