Sunday, September 9, 2012

Of Beets and Beans

Last fall I purchased pressure canner, so I was looking forward to using it to can low acid foods this summer which cannot be canned in a water bath canner.

I started first with green beans. Normally, I freeze them which requires blanching. The instruction booklet for my canner includes a raw pack option. (ALWAYS follow your pressure canner instructions completely.) For this method, I just had to break the ends off and break them into the lengths that I wanted. Then, I put them into the warm, sterile jars and poured boiling water over them. The tricky part was coordinating all of the pots on the range top: simmering lids, pressure canner, and the boiling water to pour over the beans.

 So, I figured – hey this is easy, now I will can beets. I had temporarily forgotten that the market that I go to is open year-round, and therefore I can get Michigan beets in the summer. Oh well, at least they will be cooked already. And so, I canned a peck of beets on a Saturday evening. This particular peck looked much smaller at the farmers market than it did in my kitchen. Below is what I learned that evening.
-          Pay attention to how much you purchase – I had twice as much as I thought I did.

-          Beets must be scrubbed and cooked before processing. It took about an hour to scrub them, 45 minutes to get them cooked enough for the skins to be loosened, and another hour to get the skins off.

-          Be sure to take a break to stretch and rest your hands if you are peeling a large amount of produce.  I woke up the next day with stiff, sore hands.

-          If you are doing more than one batch in the pressure canner, have a book or other activity ready. There was a lot of time spent waiting for the canner to depressurize and then re-pressurize for the second batch.

-          Think about how you are going to handle peeling the beets. My book indicated that the skins would ‘slip off’ after 15 – 25 minutes of boiling. After 35 minutes I began to panic – visualizing myself hand peeling a peck of beets. They started to loosen after 45 minutes of boiling.

-          I read online that using a butter knife to cut the ends off of the beets and push the skins off was helpful. I found it so.

-          Wipe up beet juice splashes immediately to prevent staining of surfaces.

-          Don’t put the beet peelings in the disposal; it will most likely clog.

-          Pack the beets in the jars tightly or they and the water will settle, and the jars will not be full.

1 comment:

  1. I have a pressure canner from my mom but have to find the instructions :-(

    By the way, I freeze beans without blanching them and they turn out just fine. Of course then it takes up precious freezer space.