Use the very freshest dried beans available. Old beans will soak up the cooking liquid in the jar. There’s nothing wrong with that, but the cooking liquid is so delicious, it’s a shame to see it disappear.
Find beans at markets with high product turnover, or order from reliable sources online.
Each brand of pressure canner comes with its own set of operating instructions; follow the manufacturer's recommendations for processing.
It might make sense to process at least 5 pounds at a time, getting a few different types of beans in the canner all at once. Make a jar of any of the leftover beans to mix into soup. You'll need 3 or 4 clean pint jars with new rings and lids.
Make Ahead: The dried beans need to be soaked overnight. The pressure-canned beans can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
Servings: 3 - 4 pint jars
- 1 pound dried beans, such as black, pinto, kidney, cannellini or a combination
- 1 bay leaf
- About 2 quarts water
- Kosher salt (optional)
Rinse the beans well, and pick through them to remove any stones or debris. Cover the beans with cold water in a large bowl or pot, and soak overnight.
Rinse and drain the beans. Add them, along with the bay leaf, to a 4-quart or larger stockpot. Pour in the water, using enough to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a murmuring boil over medium heat; cook gently, adjusting the heat as needed, for 30 minutes. Skim any foam from the surface.
Set a colander over a large bowl and pour the beans and liquid into the colander; reserve the cooking liquid and discard the bay leaf. Ladle the beans into the clean jars, filling them no more than two-thirds full. Add the bean cooking liquid, leaving a 1-inch head space. Add 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt to each jar, if using.
Slip a bubbler or plastic knife inside each jar and dislodge any air bubbles. Add more liquid or boiling water, if necessary, and remove air bubbles again. Clean the rims of the jars. Place the lids and rings on the jars, and finger-tighten the rings.
Process at 10 pounds of pressure in a weighted gauge pressure canner; check the manufacturer's instructions. (Adjust the pressure for altitudes above sea level.) Process for 75 minutes.
Allow the pressure to return to zero and the canner to cool completely before opening the pressurized lid.
Take the jars from the canner and remove the rings, testing each seal. Rinse the jars well. Label and date each jar, then store (without the rings) in a cool, dark space for up to a year.
From Cathy Barrow, author of "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving" (Norton, 2014).
Tested by Cathy Barrow.
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