Thursday, July 24, 2008

To Can or not to Can?

I made a decision today that is going to change the way people eat green beans in our house. My husband loves canned green beans and so do I. In fact, I love them no matter how they're preserved. Last year I canned something around 70 quarts of beans and we used almost all of them, but this year I opted not to can them. Yes, I still have a garden with three long rows of beans and yes, I plan to preserve them for the winter. No, I don't want to can them.

Here's why: The last time I had the pressure gauge checked on my canner was somewhere around three years ago. That's too long. If you are canning any low acid food, such as green beans, peas, carrots, etc., you need to do so with a pressure canner. This is so you can heat the food inside the jars to a temperature high enough (and long enough) to kill any harmful bacteria that could lurk inside and grow during the time it spends in storage. My mom canned beans for years in a hot water bath - boiling the jars of beans for something like four hours - but that method is definitely NOT recommended these days. Just thinking of that hot kitchen and the amount of money it must have cost in electricity just boggles my mind.

The Ball Blue Book recommends that you boil your green beans for six minutes after opening the jars just to be certain they don't contain botulism, a dangerous bacteria that is tasteless and odorless but can kill you in a very short period of time.

Instead of canning the beans this year I'm going to freeze them. My sister-in-law gave me a Food Saver machine a couple of years ago and it works very well. The bags are heavy - I use only the Food Saver brand bags as I've checked the other brands and they don't deliver the best results - and every bit of air is vacuumed out before sealing. The strawberries I froze with this machine were almost like fresh after being in the freezer for a year, so I know it works.

Tonight I froze four quarts of green beans and it looks like in a few days the beans will be ready to pick again. I'll need more bags.


Anonymous said...

Hi. Rita.
I also freeze my green beans. I don't have a pressure cooker. So far this season I have 22 pints frozen. I use pint bags because it is just George and I who eat the beans. I think the frozen taste more like fresh than canned. Happy freezing! -Deb

FromThe Creek said...

We don't "do" green beans in our house. Otherwise known as I would be the only one eating them! But I have heard a lot of people that say that they would rather have them frozen than canned. You may be pleasantly surprised with the way your family receives them. Besides that is a little less work!