Beans are meaty, filling, nutritious, tasty and full of fiber. They’re also really cheap! Most of the canned beans you find on the shelf at your local supermarket are overcooked, oversalted and — while not exactly espensive — overpriced. Not only that, but the cans they come in often contain chemicals in their lining that you don’t want in your body.
The solution? Can your own! With this simple guide for soaking, preparing and pressure canning dried beans, you can build up your pantry with these protein and fiber-packed wonders of the food world.
I generally like to can my beans plain, with no added spices or seasonings. That way they are a blank slate for any meal I want to cook. Just flavor them as you like when you reheat them on the stovetop, or add them to any recipe that calls for a can of beans.
How to scale a batch of dried beans up or down
One of the main things you’ll want to know for planning your canning is how much does a bag of beans make? Most beans come in 1-pound bags. Once you soak a bag of beans, they generally expand in volume about 2 to 3 times. So:
- 1 pound of dried beans will make about 3 pints
- 5 pounds of dried beans will make about 7 quarts, plus some left over for dinner
Using those measures, I know that if I want to can 3 1-pound bags of pinto beans, I will need about 9 pint jars, give or take.
As I mentioned, I like to can my beans plain without any seasonings. But a pinch of salt will really bring out their flavor. I use kosher or sea salt. You generally should not use iodized table salt for canning. The additives in it can cloud or discolor your liquid. Here is the amount of salt I generally add to each jar.
- 1/2 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt per pint, and 1 teaspoon per quart
Equipment needed to can dried beans
Beans are a low-acid food and must be pressure cooked for safety’s sake. Do not try to use a boiling water canner to can your beans. You may die when you eat them (botulism).
- Pressure cooker
- Large pot for soaking and simmering
- Canning jars, lids and rings
- Slotted spoon
- Canning funnel
- Jar lifter
- Lid lifter or tongs
- Clean towels to cool your jars on
- Paper towels
How to use the beans you can
Bring to a boil in a saucepan, and then simmer, stirring occasionally for at least 10 minutes to ensure their safety. Use them in recipes and season as you like.
Canning Dried BeansCourse: Vegetables, Beans and Legumes
Simple directions for pressure canning any type of dried bean to fill up your pantry.
Dried beans of any type — 2 pounds
Kosher or sea salt — 1 tablespoon
Water — as needed
- Add the beans to a pot large enough to hold them and double their volume of water. Rinse the beans well and drain. Then add enough fresh water to cover them to double their depth. Beans expand a lot when they rehydrate, and you want to make sure they stay covered with water, or the top beans won’t soak properly. Set the beans in a cool place or in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours to hydrate fully.
- Set up your canning station. Load your pressure cooking with clean jars, and add water to cover the jars by 3 or 4 inches. Bring the water to a simmer. Clean your counter and all canning utensils and equipment well. Many people also add the lids and rings to a large saucepan with simmering water to sterilize them too, but that’s been found to not be necessary for safety. It’s up to you. I usually do it anyway.
- Drain your soaked beans, rinse, and then add fresh water to cover the beans by a few inches. Set the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the beans come to a boil, count about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to let them parcook. Skim and discard any foam that rises to the surface. There may be quite a bit.
- While you’re waiting for your beans to parcook, remove the hot jars from your pressure canner, pouring out the water into the sink, and set them on a clean cloth or cutting board on your counter. Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to each jar.
- Use a slotted spoon to fill your hot jars with the beans, leaving 1 inch headroom. A canning funnel is useful here. Use a ladle to cover the beans with hot bean liquid, leaving 1/2 inch of headroom from the rim at the top. Use a chopstick or something similar to stir out any bubbles.
- Wipe each jar rim with a moist paper towel, then put on a lid and ring on each jars. Screw on the ring until just “hand tight.” If you screw too tight, extra air can’t escape the jars, and you won’t get a good seal. Screw too loose, and your liquid will leak from the jars.
- Pour out all but about 2 or 3 inches of water from your canner. Place the jars gently in your canner. The water should come about halfway up the side of the jars. It should not cover them.
- Bring the water to boil, and then place the lid on canner, without its weight, and vent 10 minutes. Then place the wieight at 10 pounds on the canner lid, and boil until weight rattles. Once the rattling begins, start counting. Process pints for 1 hour 15 minutes; quarts for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Adjust your heat so the weight rattles every minute or so.
- Once the time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner set for about 30 minutes. At that time it should be safe to remove the canner weight. Allow the canner to cool for another 30 minutes or so, and then remove the canner lid. Let the jars cool down in the canner for another couple hours or even overnight. (NOTE: Make sure the beans have cooled sufficiently to bring the pressure down before you perform this step. I didn’t one time, and I ended up with flash burns on the whole front of my chest.)
- Carefully remove the jars to a clean towel on your counter, and then remove the rims from each. Rinse each jar off, dry it and then label it with the contents and year. Store your jars in a cool, dark place for up to two years. If any of the jars have lids that didn’t seal (the lid will make a popping sound when you press on it), leave the rims on, store the jars refrigerated, and use within two weeks.
Canning Beans Notes and Variations
- This recipe works for most dried beans: pinto, white, red, black, navy, chickpeas and black-eyed peas. I haven’t tried fava beans yet, but you will probably need to peel them first after soaking them.
- Use fresh boiled water to fill your jars if you don’t want to use the simmering liquid. It will lead to a clearly final product, but you will be losing some flavor.
- If you have hard water, adding a tablespoon or two of white vinegar to the canner water can prevent a buildup of scale on your jars.