Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preparing the Pantry for Sunny Days

As anyone who knows me knows, I like to cook. Since remodeling our kitchen last summer, I have enjoyed countless hours in the kitchen, mixing, stirring, whisking, baking, frying, sauteing, fricasseeing, broiling, boiling, and dirtying every dish we own.

Of course, all for the sake of my family.


But, when the sun comes out and brings a little heat with it, the kitchen is the last place I want to be.

No, seriously.

With spring just around the corner, my days will soon be gobbled up with outside chores. Soon, the garden, flowerbeds, fencing, firewood gathering, and mowing will be calling our names. These will be followed with haying, more mowing, weeding, building projects, harvesting and canning season. Somewhere in there will be salmon fishing, a vacation or two, birthdays, and more mowing. This does not include any extra projects such as; putting in a new drain field around the house, building a new chicken yard, adding lean-to's on the shop, repairing the blacktop on our driveway, installing gutters on outbuildings....the list goes on and on and on....

Did I mention the mowing?

Meals around here need to be fast. All hands are needed on deck, and mine are no exception. Even the most carefully planned meals can fall by the wayside when the family is in the middle of a project. Fast food drive-thru's are NOT an option for us, so we need to have things that are easy to prepare, even for the non-cook's of the family.

This winter, I put my pressure canner back into business. Currently, I am canning beans. Who doesn't have bags of dried beans hiding in their pantry or cupboards? Black, kidney, navy, pinto, and pink beans~we have 'em all. I'm not sure how we accumulated so many pounds of beans, but currently, there are about 200#'s of them lurking in every corner of the kitchen. They've even managed to infiltrate the coat closet.

Currently, the coats are throwing themselves to the floor in protest of this injustice.

Canning dried beans is pretty easy if you follow a few simple rules.

#1. Presoak the beans overnight. Add a little whey or lemon juice to help break down the protein "toots".

#2. Cover the beans with fresh water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat and let cook for 30-45 minutes.

#3. Fill clean jars with hot beans, leaving 1-1/2 inch of space.

#4. Cover beans with hot water to the bottom of the neck of the jar. Add 1 t. sea salt per quart, or 1/2 t. per pint.

#5. Using a butter knife, remove air bubbles by poking the knife down the inside of the jars. Add more water if needed, but DO NOT OVERFILL.

#6. Place heated lid on jars and screw down tight. Place in pressure canner. Add 2-3 quarts of hot water to the canner and place lid on top.

#7. Bring the canner up to 10 lbs. of pressure and hold it there for 1 hour, 30 minutes for quarts or 1 hour, 15 minutes for pints.

#8. Turn off heat and wait for pressure to return to zero before opening the lid. Remove hot jars very carefully, and place on a towel in a draft-free spot to cool.

#9. Did I mention, DO NOT OVERFILL? These will go in the fridge to be used next week. Never store food where the seal could be in question. Better to be safe than sorry.

Canned beans can be used even during the hottest months for dishes such as; black bean burgers, refried beans, homemade chili (best with campfire hot dogs), tacos, and in all kinds of salads. Beans are a protein packed legume that is high in fiber. And face it, we could all use a little extra fiber in our lives.

And a lot more time outside, enjoying the sunshine.

*Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for your canner.

This post is linked to Fight Back Fridays at The Food Renegade and Homestead Barn Hop at New Life on a Homestead.


Kara said...

Sounds good! Do you have to keep them in the fridge or are they shelf stable? I don't have a pressure cooker so I've been freezing cooked beans in mason jars.

Kim said...

Kara, once they're canned, they are shelf stable for a couple of years. I like to freeze beans too, but canned, I don't have to wait for them to thaw! Canned beans are easier to pack for camping trips too. There is NEVER enough fridge or freezer space in a camper. :)

Amy @ Homestead Revival said...

One more reason I really need a pressure cooker! While we use our grill year 'round, it sees even more use in the summer because it's so quick and easy and we can still be outdoors while most of it is cooking.
Great Post, Kim. Thanks for Linking up!

Andi said...

OH I did not know this...I so need a pressure canner!

Jill said...

Oh how I would love a pressure canner! I like to cook and freeze beans, but the freezer just gets too full after hunting season! Thanks for sharing this at The Homestead Barn Hop!

Laura said...

My husband and I have been talking about getting a pressure canner to get started on some of this before the heat hits! In the past, I've frozen all my produce. Thanks for the info - I found you at Homestead Revival.