Saturday, 16 August 2008

Yes I Can!

Today was the day! I took the plunge and made canned pickled beans.

The green string bush beans from my garden have been producing like crazy, and I was inspired to try pickling them when I was talking with my hairdresser last week. She is about 15 years younger than me, and was talking about how easy it was to make pickled beans. I figured if she could do it, so could I! When I told her I didn't have a canner yet, she said that the local hardware store had them on sale this week. It seemed like it was just meant to be: I would be making pickled beans this weekend!

It didn't take me long to pick this huge bowl of beans - enough for seven 500 ml (pint) jars. I found a recipe on the internet that was similar to the one my hairdresser was telling me about, and started to get things ready. It took a while, because I was a bit nervous and wanted to do everything quite slowly and carefully. Finally I had the beans washed and cut, and the jars and lids sterilized. Then I added the garlic and dill (from our CSA) to each jar. (There are six jars in the picture, but I had to add a seventh later because I had a lot of beans - fortunately I had sterilized seven anyway, because that's what fits in my canner).

I stuffed the jars full of beans, leaving a half inch of headspace from the top, like the instructions said. I had a few bean tails higher than that which I snipped off. Maybe it would have been ok, but I figured I should go by the book my first time out.
I seriously underestimated the amount of hot pickling liquid to make, halving the original recipe. This filled just 2 1/2 jars, so I made a whole other full batch of the packing liquid for the other 4 1/2 jars. I may not have packed the beans in as tightly as I should have, but I was worried about touching the inside of the jars with my (clean but not sterile) fingers. The pickling liquid smelled wonderful, with all that vinegar and chile flakes! It was super salty though, when I tasted it.

Finally the jars were ready to go into the canner. Because of the altitude here (657 metres or 2,155 feet), the instructions said I had to add an extra 5 minutes to the canning process. I wasn't sure if this meant from the time I put the jars in the canner, or from when the water was boiling in the canner again, so I picked the latter just in case.

Ten minutes later, I carefully extracted the hot jars from the water bath and placed them on a tea towel-covered cutting board to cool. I'm happy to report that all seven jars' lids popped within the hour, and my smile got bigger after each pop!

Now I have to wait two weeks to open a jar and taste them. The canning process sure went well, other than a couple of jars falling over in the water bath (I think I need a better rack than the one that came with the canner), so I have high hopes for how these things will taste.

I'm feeling better and better about my ability to preserve and store food. Next on my list is drying some chard from last weeks CSA share, and some of the multitude of sasakatoon berries that are still ripening in the yard. It's shaping up to be a tasty winter!


Heather @ SGF said...

Good for you! It's amazing how easy it all is AFTER you've done it for the first time, no?

Theresa said...

Yes! Now that I have an understanding of the logistics of it, I'll be able to do it again no problem! I have beets from the CSA I would like to pickle as well, and then try my MIL's canned peach recipe. Mmmmmm!

Anonymous said...

I remember eating pickled beans my mother made as I was growing up. It seems funny that I never thought of pickling the beans that have been producing like crazy on my bean bushes. Of course, to have enough to can I'd have to stop snacking on them every time I go outside :)

Congrats to you!

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I had my first pickling experience this week as well! I made pickled peppers, and boy was I nervous! I was so happy to hear that lid pop.

Congrats on your first try, they look gorgeous! I bet you'll be canning all the time now, eh?

Theresa said...

Artby - I never would have thought of pickling them either, if it wasn't for my hairdresser's suggestion! I also love them steamed with butter and almonds. You can't go wrong with snacking on fresh ones though, even my guinea pigs like them that way.

Jennifer - I can surely relate to your nervousness! I counted out loud as the jars each popped - what a relief! I will certainly be canning again soon - pickled beets maybe, or peaches.

Anonymous said...

Hi Theresa. I love canning too...was a little nervous in the beginning but it's such a good feeling when you're done. (I smile after each 'pop' too.) You might like this It covers everything you can imagine. (I love your blog, by the way)
~ Liz

emily said...

Nice job!! The beans look great. I can't wait to get myself a big pickling pot like yours, but I think it will have to happen next summer.

My mother pickled every summer when I was growing up, so fun! Beans, cucumbers, beets, and we even made watermelon rind pickles. They're different, but really good!

Theresa said...

Emily, this pickling pot (canner) was only $11.99 on sale! I will keep my eye out for a bigger one at garage sales and such, but this one does 7 pint jars at a time, which is good for me to start learning the whole canning thing. Oh ya, watermelon rind! I have to try that!

Theresa said...

Hi Liz, thanks a lot! That website is where I got the pickled bean recipe from - it seems like a really good resource, and perfect for beginners like me!