I’ve begun canning in our three weeks here, more than eager to get some meal-building staples put up in our pantry. I already explained “Why” I can here in the previous post “Why Can?” so what have I been canning in our short three weeks living here so far?
Tomato sauce (plain) and Bone broth were first. Both staples and much used in my kitchen.
This last week I was also able to can up some pineapple chunks (gotta have some sweet and sour!) and another huge staple in my kitchen – beans!
I use them in things, as side dishes and even as the main course now and then. I just love the simplicity of Mexican Beans and Rice now and then for lunch. Add in some cooked greens and I’m one happy gal.
So beans just happen to be a staple in my kitchen but they are also a staple in the local Congolese markets. Many ladies have several kinds to choose from and even more have mixtures of a lot of different kinds. I find them beautiful, especially the mixtures I’ve come across here in the markets. You have neon green, deep purple, white, grey marble, pink, and tye-dye ones even.
There are several different methods to canning beans but all of them should begin with sorting and picking out any debris and stones you come across. The dried beans that you can buy in the states are, in general, very clean. Here, buying from the local market you really need to shop around to see which ladies have taken the time to clean their beans because if you don’t, you’ll be spending that time cleaning them yourself instead.
So, lesson learned, buy from the meticulous bean lady next time. But for this time I sorted through them myself picking out sticks, stones and everything in-between.
This did take some time but after they were clean I began measuring the beans into the jars I was using. Now, like I said, there are several different methods in canning beans that you can use; but not all of them are “approved” by the canning gods I guess. Most require an overnight soak followed by boiling them before putting them in jars and canning them up. Some do this some do that.
Another way is by just canning them dry, and allowing them to cook during the canning process*. *This is not the officially “approved” method though many canners have been doing this for years without issue. How you choose to can beans is up to you; this is simply what I’m doing.* I like simplicity in a lot of things and using the dry-bean method is the simplest in my opinion.
So the beans get measured into jars (1/2 cup per pint) and then water is added up to the rim of the jar leaving about an inch of head space.
After that it’s time to process them. Again, do your research on processing times and make a decision. There is a wide range of recommended times out there so I went with a mid-range one – especially with the mixed beans.
So you have to pressure can beans, which I did but right before doing that I also canned up some pineapple chunks. My husband and I love sweet and sour meatballs and having jars of freshly canned pineapple in the pantry help to make it an easy meal.
Now before he thinks I’m taking all the glory, know that Dave helped with the canning on this day. He cut up the pineapple and followed my directions like a trooper to get all the pineapple canned up and the beans.
The beans weren’t finished until evening though because of the long processing time and we had two batches to get done.
The pineapple was simpiler because you only have to do a water bath with it. And let me tell you, canned pineapple doesn’t get much fresher than bought at a local African market after being picked that morning!! Oh boy was it amazing fresh and from it came some bomb canned chunks. Yumm yum!
So of course we had to sample our goods right away and opened two of the jars for sweet and sour meatballs that night for dinner. It was gonna be cooked anyways right? Sooooooo good!
At the end of the day we added all the pineapple to the pantry and some canned beans in both quarts and pints.
More canning to come, hopefully soon, in the form of beef broth, tomato chunks and some juices. Perhaps at the local Saturday market we can get a leg of beef and can up some bone broth from it.