The very first step toward canning green beans is to obtain a proper book on canning. While this article will offer some helpful hints and general procedures, it is not meant to replace the detailed instructions necessary for safe and effective canning.
After you have found and thoroughly studied the procedures behind canning, the next step is to obtain the necessary equipment. If you are trying canning for the first time and do not already have a very large pot, you may want to borrow one since they can be rather expensive and cumbersome to store. The pot you use should have a tight lid and a rack to go in the bottom. In addition to a large pot, you should also have an accurate thermometer. To test your thermometer’s accuracy you can take a reading of a pot of actively boiling water. The thermometer should read 212 degrees.
Besides these items, you need to purchase jars, seals and rings. You can reuse old jars and rings but never seals. Most canning jars come in two sizes, 16 ounce and 32 ounce. You should choose the larger jar if you are canning whole beans or if you have a large family. Otherwise, the smaller jars are best. On the day you plan to can you must sterilize all the pieces according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once you have your equipment the final step in preparation is to start freezing blocks of ice. You can do this in any extra containers you have around the house. You will see how you use these later.
Now it is time to pick your green beans. This may involve actually picking them off the bush or just picking them up at the market, depending on your circumstances. The important thing to remember is to can only the freshest, best looking beans available. So either discard or use up immediately any beans with break or spots. In a perfect scenario you will can your green beans the same day you pick them.
To prepare green beans for canning, first wash them carefully and gently. Then snip off the very tip of each end with sharp kitchen shears. If you want to can whole beans you stop here. Otherwise, break or cut each bean into three or four pieces. While you are cutting the beans, bring a large pot, a little under half full of water, to a boil. Note: Do not use your canning pot for this.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, take a few minutes and thoroughly clean your sink with a sanitizing solution of equal parts chlorine bleach and water. If you have a double sink, sanitize both sides. If not, clean and sanitize a large dish pan or baking pan.
When you have cut enough beans to fill the pot of boiling water about half full, pour them carefully into the boiling water. Place the lid on to and go immediately to you freezer and remove one of your blocks of ice, placing it on one side of your double sink. If you do not have a double sink, place the ice in the large pan you cleaned earlier. Move quickly so that the beans do not blanch very long. Thirty seconds is the optimal time.
As soon as the ice is in place, carefully remove the pot of beans from the stove and pour as much hot water as possible down the sink without the ice. Then quickly dump the remaining beans on top of the ice block and stir them around in order to cool them as fast as possible.
As soon as the beans are cool, pack them into the jars tightly, allowing about an inch of space around the top for “head room.” You can also add some fresh garlic or other spices. Then seal the jars and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.