Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Canning Lesson...And Black Bean Chili

It's time for Tasty Thursday with a lesson on canning and also a recipe for Black Bean Chili.

Let me start out by saying I am from NY and I never had a garden and never even heard of canning food on your own.  Since moving to TN I have met many people who can and they have been canning food for generations.  I thought this was so cool to be able to can your own food and eat your bounty all year long.  I also have an online friend, thank you J, who cans and told me I could do it.  Well I wasn't so sure about that.  Frankly, canning with a pressure canner really scared me.  I figured I would most likely blow myself up if I tried.  It took me a few years of talking with my friends and also taking a canning class to finally feel confidant enough to try canning on my own.

For those of you like me who are apprehensive about canning, call your local Extension Office and see if they offer canning classes.  It really made a big difference for me.  Also the pressure canners of today are much safer than they were many years ago.

Here is a link for you to see where your local extension office is:
Find Your Local Office

There are two types of canning, water bath canning and pressure canning.  Water bath canning is easier for beginners.  It is used for canning fruits, pickles, jams, jellies, and tomatoes.  You need to use a pressure canner to can low-acid foods like meat, vegetables other than tomatoes, and beans.

The best book for canners is the Ball Blue Book Guide To Preserving.  It is my canning Bible and I never can without checking it.  You can buy the book here: Ball Blue Book.

Today I will be sharing a recipe for Black Bean Chili which requires a Pressure Canner.  I bought a Presto 23 Quart Pressure Canner for my canning needs.  It seems to work well for me.  My canner will hold 12 half pints, 10 pints, or 7 quarts.  My Presto Canner.

Each year I bring my pressure canner to my extension office.  They do an inspection on my dial gauge for me and make sure it is working properly.  This is just an extra safety measure I like to do. for today's recipe.  I did a combination of recipes to come up with this.  I don't care for chopped meat and I love black beans.  So:

Black Bean Chili

2 medium onions chopped
6 Tb. chili Powder
2 Tb. salt
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 ts. black pepper
1/2-1 ts. cumin
Dash or two of hot sauce
2 pints of chopped tomatoes (since it is winter I used 2 28oz. cans of diced tomatoes)
2 lbs. dry black beans
5 cups water

Soak beans overnight.  Drain and rinse the next day.  Add beans to a big pot.  Cover with the 5 cups of water and boil for 15 minutes.  Add the rest of the ingredients and continue to boil uncovered for another 15 minutes.

Prepare you jars, fill hot jars, getting all air bubbles out and leaving 1 inch of headspace.  Process 10 pints for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure(this will vary depending on your elevation and your gauge)

Now for the picture lesson:

Here are all of the ingredients:

The night before you will need to soak your beans.  I use two bowls and divide the beans in each bowl.  Then I cover them by a few inches with water.  This will allow for any expansion.

The next morning I am ready to go.

I drain the beans and add them to the big pot, I use my water bath canner, with the water.  At the same time I add water to my pressure canner according to the directions and get that water heated up to boiling.

Next I chop the onions and I use this cool little gadget for scooping the onions off my cutting board.
Food Scraper  I don't know how I cooked for 40 years without one.  My stepdaughter bought if for me and it is fantastic for scooping up your chopped vegetables.  This is one of the most useful gifts I have ever received.  I use it almost daily.

After 15 minutes of boiling the beans and water I add the rest of the ingredients.

I have also sterilized my jars.  I don't have a dishwasher so I clean my jars with hot soapy water, and then I let them sit in hot bleach water.  Wash and rinse again.  After that I place the jars on a cookie sheet lined with a kitchen towel.

I put them in the oven and turn it on to 250°.  This will get my jars hot.  You want to make sure you have hot jars when you fill them with hot food.  This way you will avoid breaking any jars.

Now my chili is ready to be canned:

I get my work station set up and I am ready to go.  You can see my canning utensil really makes things easy.  Utensil Kit

I fill each jar and inch from the top, take out any air bubbles, wipe the rim, and place the lid from the boiling water on top and screw on the ring.  

Then I place the jar into the pressure canner.

All ten jars in the canner.

I follow the direction from my canning book and process the jars for 75 minutes.  After they are done I set the jars on a towel on the counter to cool for 24 hours.  Soon you will hear the pings:) from your jars.  This means they have sealed and that is what you want.

My finished jars waiting to cool. beans don't look so pretty, lol.  The fruits and vegetables of summer are so much prettier to look at:)

After 24 hours wipe down your jars and take the rings off.  If any of your jars have not pinged you can refrigerate and eat right away or you can re-can them.  Store the jars on a shelf and don't stack them on top of one another.  This enables you to know of the seal stays good.  If the middle of the lid has any give the food inside is not safe to eat.

I hope I was able to teach you a little about canning.  It is a great way to store your food when you have extra.  It is also a great way to preserve all of those wonderful summertime crops:)


  1. Hi Lisa, You are doing a great job at canning. I don't have a pressure canner but I have done water bath canning. I have done tomatoes and also pickle relish.I also have done apple butter Yum. My husband is not a big fan of beans but he will eat chili with no beans lol... My mom had a pressure canner and would can lots of stuff and also pressure cook meats for dinner.. She taught me the water bath. I miss her. Have a great day. Kathy from Kansas

    1. Thank you Kathy. I made a lot of applesauce last year. For some reason I couldn't get the right consistency for apple butter. How do you make yours? I also made a yellow squash relish last year which was really good especially on hot dogs. Sorry about your mom.

    2. Anonymous, I think you are taking your chances eating any vegetables, much less beans in a water bath, if that's what you mean. The only safe way to cook low-acid foods is in a pressure canner.

  2. Oh Lisa you are making my heart flitter with excitment you make me so proud how well you've taken to canning. See I told you once you start you'd love it. :)Did you try cooking the apple butter in a crock pot it has to lose a lot of liquid in order to firm up once canned. Jaxson

    1. Jaxson-You were my inspiration from afar:) I haven't tried the apple butter in the crockpot. I will try it this year when the days are longer and the sun stays out:)

    2. Just simmer your apple butter (crockpot, stovetop or oven)until you can put a little dab on a saucer and no water ring forms around the little dab. I got this tip from my Farm Journal Canning and Freezing book (another bible).

  3. If you put your jars in the oven over time they will warp. You should just leave the jars in the water bath with hot water till you are ready to fill them. Ball and Kerr both suggest not using jars in the oven.

    1. Thank you. That's good to know unfortunately I don't have the room on my stove or the pots to do that. I will check more into that.

  4. Thanks for the pictures and recipe, Lisa. Very helpful.

    1. You're welcome. I need to make more:)