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!
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