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Home Canned Pork and Beans

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I’ve been wanting to learn how to can dried beans for quite awhile now. I often have a pot of beans sitting on one of the wood stoves during winter, taking advantage of the wood heat for the long cooking time they require. But in summer, when I keep cooking to a  minimum, or when I need something quick and convenient, nothing beats simply opening a jar.

Canned black turtle beans from last year’s garden.

This recipe comes from Daisy Luther’s The Prepper’s Canning Guide. (You can read my review of this book here.) My own recipe notes follow.

Basic Pork and Beans

5 lbs dried beans (any sort)
1 – 2 lbs ham, bacon, or salt pork (optional)
salt (optional)
6 small onions, halved
6 cups water or broth
12 bay leaves

Wash and sort dried beans. Soak in hot water at least 2 hours or overnight. Discard soaking water, add fresh water and bring to a boil. Drain the beans again, reserving the cooking water. Distribute the pork in the sterile jars. Add the soaked beans, filling the jar no more than 3/4 full.

Filling only 3/4 full allows room for the beans to
expand as they cook during the canning process.

Add salt, bay leaves, and onion. Ladle boiling water or broth over beans, leaving 1.5 inches of headspace. The broth must cover the beans and there must be enough room for the beans to expand during pressure canning.

Black beans make a dark broth, don’t they? An inch &
a half is more headspace than I’m used to so I measured
and adjusted the liquid to see what it looked like.

Secure lids and process in pressure canner at 10 lbs pressure (adjusted for altitude): 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts. Makes 7 quarts.

Recipe Notes

  • Soaking. I’ve read that some folks skip the soaking and put them in the jar dry, but this results in partially cooked canned beans. If that’s what one is used to and willing to finish the cooking after opening the jar, no problem. I’d rather have something ready to heat and eat, so this was an important step for me. It didn’t add any work, just time.
  • When I do a shorter soak (a couple of hours instead of overnight), I like to first bring the beans and water to a boil. I find this helps with the cooking time.
  • Soaking water. It’s discarded because it contains the undigestible starches in the beans that give you gas! Use it to water plants or feed it to the pigs (who don’t are about gas). Rinse the beans and cook in fresh water or broth.
  • Salt is optional because some people like to salt after they open the jar. I add salt when I’m canning. This is a prepper thing for me; salt may not be readily available in a hard-times situation, so I like my canned foods with just enough salt to not need any more. 
  • Headspace. All of my jars’ contents were low, like in the first photo, making me wonder if I could have done with less headspace. According to safety guidelines, 1 inch of headspace is usually left for starchy low acid pressure canned foods to allow for safe processing. In looking at recipes from other sources, I find one inch commonly recommended for dried beans. I didn’t lose any liquid during processing, but I can’t help but think a little extra broth wouldn’t hurt and would ensure the beans remained completely covered in liquid during storage. 
  • Yield. I’m guessing this varies according to the type of bean. I only had about 3 pounds of dried turtle beans but still got 7 quarts.
One jar didn’t seal so we had a chance to try them. They were perfect!

Scrambled eggs on a flour tortilla topped with black beans & sriracha sauce

The whole process turned out to be much easier than I thought. Like bone broth, I think this makes for a good wintertime canning project! Now I’m ready to try some of the other canned bean recipes in Daisy’s book!


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