If you’re looking for instructions on how to can green beans, I’ve got you covered!
To be honest, canning season has been a little underwhelming this year. We’re in a drought that not even garden sprinklers seem to be able to compensate for. But we’ve still managed to get a few green beans, so all is not lost.
When I was a girl, green beans were the number one green vegetable in our family. They’re easy enough to grow, easy for kids (like myself and siblings) to pick, and pretty simple to can. We canned a lot of them!
I learned a lot about canning, and how to can green beans from watching my mom, and other women in our community.
How to can green beans
If you’ve been buying canned beans at the grocery store, you might not know this, but there’s more than one way to can green beans.
Green Bean Canning Basics
Your basic recipe is simply cut green beans canned in water and slat. Essentially, they’re boiled. This is the easiest, and most common way to can green beans.
Typically, you will use a method called raw packing, where you’ll pack raw beans into jars, add a teaspoon of canning salt on top (if you’re using quarts) and fill with cool water leaving 1-inch headspace.
Next, you’ll screw remove air bubbles by stirring them up with a butter knife (if necessary), and screw on the lids and rings.
Finally, proceed with pressure canning. If you live around sea level, you’ll stick with 10 pounds of pressure, if you’re at a higher altitude, you may need to go up to 15.
This was a favorite for many of my Amish neighbors. In fact, I don’t think I ever had a boiled green bean at an Amish house. They were always sautéed, usually with bacon. In terms of canning, this simply meant you packed your green beans as tightly as possible in jars, added salt, but not water, and pressure canned them. In the end, there was quite a bit of shrinkage from the beans (thus, packing them as tightly as possible), and some liquid from the beans themselves collected in the bottom of the jar. To use them, they’d typically be drained, and sautéed in bacon grease or butter.
Water bath canning green beans
It’s not considered safe, but if you’re wondering how to can green beans without a pressure canner, the answer is yes, you can do it. In fact, many of my neighbors as a kid didn’t even have a pressure canner, so they waterbath canned all kinds of things you’re not “supposed” to use a water bath canner (such as pumpkin). They just boiled the jars much longer than you would pressure can them for.
I realize that even including this paragraph here could get me lambasted by well-meaning people. But I’m merely saying that canning green beans without a pressure canner is done – not that you should do it.
Truthfully, we’ve canned a lot of things we shouldn’t have without a pressure canner. My personal experience is that it’s not worth it. More food goes bad, wasting your work. And while I don’t have personal experience with it, I’ve known families that have lost loved ones to eating spoiled food. Could that happen with pressure canned food? Yes. But -again, in my experience – it happens a lot more often with waterbath canned food. My conclusion is if you’re serious about home food preservation, you need to invest in a pressure canner.
For instance. One summer we pooled resources with two other families to make and the world’s biggest batch of vegetable soup. One of those families had a giant wood-fired waterbath canner. That thing held 50 jars. So while we pressure canned a lot of the soup with our combined six pressure canners, we waterbath canned even more of it.
Imagine our dismay throughout fall and winter when seals started popping and mold started growing. that soup was delicious, we put a lot of work into it, and there it was, going to waste. The jars were all mixed up, so I can’t prove it, but I’d bet a lot that the majority of jars going bad were waterbath canned. Even if you boil them for 2 hours, the inside of the jar might not get hot enough to kill every kind of bacteria.
In comparison, I canned a batch of vegetable soup that was very similar this past winter, using only my pressure canner, and have yet to have a jar go bad. It’s been awesome to have homemade convenience food I can count on in the pantry! this is also why I like to can chili beans, and also home-canned baked beans. these are great convenience food for winter!
You can boil water all day long, but it’s not going to get as hot as a pressure canner.
So this recipe shows you how to can green beans – with a pressure canner.
It’s pretty simple really, and if this is your first time canning, you picked a really good recipe to start with.
Simply wash your green beans and trim them to about 1-inch pieces
I pinch off both ends, but the blossom end is optional.
You can also create french style green beans with a Frencher like this.
Next you’re going to pull out clean, sterilized jars and lids.
One way to sterilize your jars is to run them through the dishwasher. Another is to put them in the oven at 350º for about 15 minutes. Others like to boil them in a pot of water for the same amount of time.
Pack your raw green beans into the jars, and top pints with 1/2 teaspoon, or quarts with 1 teaspoon or salt.
Fill jars with water, using hot water if your jars are hot, or cool water if your jars to cool, leaving at least half an inch of headspace.
Fix your lids and rings firmly, and transfer to your pressure canner. Note: Read your canners instructions and use those. You can also read more about how to use a pressure canner here. Below are instructions for a canner like mine.
A standard Presto pressure canners holds seven quart jars, or nine pints, and you’ll need to fill the bottom with two quarts of water, and make sure the canning rack is in place before adding your green bean jars.
If is very important that there is a rack of some sort between the bottom of the pressure canned, and your jars. Otherwise, you could end up with a lot of broken jars.
Fix the lid on your canner, and begin heating over medium heat. At this point, once the water in your canner gets hot and beings steaming, it will come out of the vent.
Let it vent profusely for 10 minutes, then place the rocker over the vent – set it to 10lbs pressure if you’re at sea level, and 15lbs pressure if you’re more than a thousand feet above sea level, and process for 30 minutes for pint jars, and 45 minutes for quart jars. Begin timing your processing after the rocker has begun rocking (i.e. a little steam will escape causing the rocker to rock or jiggle, and his).
After the processing time is up, remove the canner from heat, and allow to cool until the pressure releases. It’s nice if you can leave it until it’s completely cool, but if you can’t, carefully remove the jars, taking care to keep them away from drafts. I like to use cover them with a towel as I move them, as well as use a towel to insulate them from the countertop, and cover them with a towel to keep drafts away while they cool.
Once they’re cook, check to make sure they’re seals – if they aren’t, you can change lids, and re-can, or just plan to refrigerate them for up to a week. If they are, wait 24 hours before removing bands, and store out of direct light.
That’s it! A lot of words, but honestly a pretty simple process.
Tips and FAQs
- Can you hot pack green beans? Yes. You can cook them, and transfer the boiling hot beans to jars before proceeding to can them in a pre-heated pressure canner. But honestly, why? It’s a lot of extra steps. That’s why this recipe is specifically for cold pack, even using cold water in our canner and jars.
- Do I need to add salt to my green beans? Actually, no. If you’re concerned about sodium consumption, you’ll be happy to know that the salt in this recipe is mainly for flavor. According to the South Dakota Ag extension, salt is completely unecessary.
- How much pressure should I can green beans under? The National Center for Home Food Preservation has very specific PSI recommendations for dial gauge canners, as well as guidlines for weighted gauge canners. Essentially, 10lbs for 1,000 feet and under, and 15lbs if you’re over 1,000 feet.
How to Can Green Beans
An easy recipe for how to can green beans
- 3 lbs green beans
- 4 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Pint jars
- Lids and bands
- Pressure canning
- Wash green beans, snap ends, and cut into desired-sized pieces
- Pack into sterilized pint or quart jars
- Top each with salt – half teaspoon for pints, full teaspoon for quarts
- Fill with water to 1/2 inch of rim
- Fit with lids and bands, tightening bands firmly
- Place in prepared pressure canner. Follow your canner’s instructions for this. If you have a 16 quart canner like this one, you will likely need to fill with 2 quarts of water, and the rack, as shown in the video above.
- Fit canner with lid, and heat. Let steam for 10 minutes
- Fit with jiggler/rocker, at 10lbs pressure for sea level, and 15lbs pressure for over 1,000 feet above sea level
- Process for 30 minutes (pints) to 45 mintues (quarts) once jiggler/rocker starts wobbling
- Remove from heat and let cool until canner released pressure on its own. If you must depressurize it, wait as long as possible, and then carefully oven steam valve. If you don’t have time to let jars cool inside the canner, remove carefully, avoiding drafts and potential breakage. I like to cover them with bath towels to insulate against potential drafts.
- After 24 hours, check the seals, recanning, or consuming any that didn’t seal, and store sealed jars out of direct light. You can also remove bands at this point if desired.
Get Your Garden Cheat Sheets!
Want to know exactly when, where, and how to plant your vegetables? Sign up to get our FREE companion planting guide, and garden planting cheat sheet printable.