The other night I realized that I was running out of Vegan Beans and so I decided to make a batch this week. I also decided that I wanted to put my fears to rest regarding reusing commercially filled glass jars and reusing one piece canning lids for pressure canning foods. Will I be successful in pressure canning vegan beans and reusing odd shaped glass jars with their associated one piece canning lids and reusing canning lids? Only one way to find out and that's to try.
How to make Vegan Beans
I started making pressure canned beans without any meat in them a while ago and slowly graduated to just making them with a tomato based sauce. As I have family members who are vegan and vegetarian, I moved to using only ingredients that would be considered vegan by my family member's standards. And thus the name, Vegan Beans. I found a recipe on line but have tweaked it to suit my tastes and the nice thing about Vegan Beans is that each batch is just slightly different. Sometimes I add more tomato, sometimes liquid smoke, sometimes a different spice. It really depends on what I feel like and sometimes what is in the pantry. Canning safety is never an issue because of the recommendations of the National Centre for Home Food Preservation which state that all low acid foods such as beans must be pressure canned. The higher acid levels of these Vegan Beans with the apple cider vinegar and tomatoes also contributes to that safety, but the pressure canning is the key. To learn more about canning dry beans such as black beans, kidney beans or pinto beans be sure to check out How to Pressure Can Black Beans.
Soaking the dry beans
Before we can pressure can our vegan beans in reused odd shaped glass jars, we need to soak our beans for a minimum of 12 hours although 24 hours, or longer, is better. The reason it is important to soak dry beans is that they contain an acid called phytic acid that is designed by nature to stop the growth of the bean. According to this article from Healthline, phytic acid is considered to be an anti-nutrient because "phytic acid prevents the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium and may promote mineral deficiencies." Soaking of dry beans greatly reduces the amount of phytic acid and the longer they soak, the more it reduces the phytic acid. If you want a long soak of up to 48 hours, be sure to replace the water covering the beans a couple of times during the soaking time.
For my vegan beans I use Navy beans and figured on about 3/4 to 1 cup of dried beans would be needed to fill about 19 pint sized odd shaped glass jars and canning jars. As I always make a little more, I measured out 14 cups of dried navy beans, washed them, then rinsed them and covered them with enough water to keep them submerged once they double or tripled in size during the 12 - 18 hour soak I was planning. They certainly do absorb the water as this picture shows at 13 hours of soak time.
The next step that is typically done when preparing dried beans is to boil the beans for 30 minutes. However, I do not do this step as I prefer the texture of the beans better when I do not boil them. However, if you prefer, by all means boil them for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes has passed, drain the beans and proceed with assembling the Vegan Beans.
Preparing the jars
Being I was pressure canning Vegan Beans I figured I might as well try pressure canning them in reused commercially filled glass jars with their associated reused one piece lids and plan on reusing canning lids for the pint size canning jars I needed to use. For many years I have reused odd shaped glass jars with their associated one piece lids and reused canning lids when hot water bath canning, but have not used the odd shaped glass jars in my pressure canner. As I explored in an earlier blog, Recycle glass jars, upcycle glass jars and repurpose glass jars....but, can I reuse commercially filled glass jars for home canning? there is really no reason to not reuse the commercially filled glass jars with their associated one piece lids. But for me, the what if's kept coming to the forefront. What if they blew up, what if they cracked, what if the regulatory body and many home canners are right. Thinking it through, I decided that the worst that could happen would be a jar or two would break and maybe a lid would pop off, but decided that there was only one way to find out and that was to try. But I also wanted to hedge my bets and still have vegan beans at the end of it should something happen. My pressure canner will hold about 18 pint size canning jars but when you are using odd shaped glass jars the number that you can fit in a canner can vary. So, I gathered up 20 jars of many shapes and sizes, making sure that they were all about a pint (500 ml) in size. The smallest was about 400 ml.
Using the criteria for reusing odd shaped glass jars from my blog Recycle glass jars, upcycle glass jars and repurpose glass jars....but, can I reuse commercially filled glass jars for home canning? I went through the jars checking for nicks and cracks. As I also have criteria for reusing canning lids and reusing one piece lids from commercially filled glass jars, I went through the one piece lids and canning lids and eliminated all canning lids and one piece canning lids with their associated odd shaped glass jar that did not meet the criteria I identify in my blog Recycle canning lids, upcycle canning lids and repurpose canning lids....but can I reuse canning lids for home canning?. Two odd shaped glass jars did not make the cut because of their one piece lids and two canning lids did not make the cut for reusing canning lids. The odd shaped glass jars were replaced with two canning jars and four used canning lids (on the right) were added to the mix to be washed for reusing canning lids.
The jars and associated lids were washed in soapy water and rinsed and laid out on a t- towel in preparation for filling.
Although the USDA, National Center for Home Food Preservation and Health Canada no longer recommend to sterilize your jars and canning lids if processed for longer than 10 minutes, I still sterilize my jars when hot water bathing. However I do not typically sterilize when pressure canning. But, I always boil my canning lids and one piece lids, new or used, to sterilize them but mostly to soften the sealing compound. If you want to read more about how to prepare your canning lids for reuse, click here.
The sauce for the vegan beans
Now that the odd shaped glass jars and canning glass jars are cleaned and the canning lids and one piece lids are heating and sterilizing, it is time to make the sauce to pour over the beans once we fill the jars with the presoaked navy beans. I gather my supplies including pepper, Redmon Real salt, maple syrup, organic molasses, stewed tomatoes, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, Bragg Organic Unfiltered apple cider vinegar, dry mustard, onions and liquid smoke (not pictured).
For my 18 jars I make the sauce in my dutch oven, but it is "full". In a pot combine the following:
- 1 1/2 quarts of stewed tomatoes - I use my own, but use what you have
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika - I vary which ones I use with each batch
- 2 tablespoons dried mustard
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
- 3/4 cup Braggs Organic Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 cup maple syrup - you could sub in honey or even brown sugar or a combination. Adjust to your taste.
- 1 cup of molasses - the amount I use varies depending on what taste I am going for. I like it to just color the sauce.
- 8 cups of clear water or vegetable stock. A combination would be nice too.
- 1 tablespoon Redmon Real Salt - adjust for taste and dietary requirements but remember nothing has salt to this point.
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons liquid smoke - Optional. I like hickory flavor, but give others a try.
Put the pot on stove and start to heat.
While the sauce is starting to heat, chop 3 onions and add to the sauce. If you want to reduce or leave out the onions, go right ahead. The quantity is personal taste only.
Bring the completed sauce to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the onions are cooked clear. Adjust spices and sweetness as necessary.
Prepare the pressure canner
It is now time to start preparing the pressure canner to accept the filled jars of Vegan Beans for pressure canning. Put 1 - 2 inches of water in the pressure canner as per your pressure canners recommendations. Put on the burner and turn on the heat to warm the water to a temperature similar to the filled jar temperature to prevent breakage due to thermal shock. Hold at that temperature while you fill the jars.
I add a couple glugs of vinegar to prevent hard water film on the jars. There is some debate about doing this because there is some concern about the acidity of the vinegar rusting the bands and that it can prevent the sealing compound from working properly. And although I can see it possibly rusting the bands I do not feel it is worth worrying about. I can find no supporting evidence to the claim that the vinegar will affect the sealing compound. And so I add a bit of vinegar to my water.
And, I put a light coating of oil on the rim of my pressure canner to help prevent vacuum lock of the canner lid. I apply with my finger.
Filling the jars
Using a funnel or just your cupped hand, fill each jar about 2/3 to 3/4 full of presoaked navy beans. Should be about 1 - 1 1/2 cups depending on size of jar. Just remember that they will swell as they finish cooking to completely fill the jar so don't over fill them. If you want more sauce, then go on the low side of 2/3 full, or even less. As I was using odd shaped glass jars derived from commercially filled glass jars, my funnel did not fit all the jars but you can just pour in as well. Fill all the jars you figure will fit in the pressure canner, adjusting levels of beans as necessary.
Now to pour the sauce into each jar, one at a time. Remove any air bubbles and mix the beans and sauce a bit by giving it a little stir. Adjust sauce levels so that you have 1 inch head space (the distance from the top of jar to the food stuff). If you want to learn about headspace and canning beans, check out How to can black beans and/or check out the Homesteading Family Canning class.
Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean damp towel moistened with either water or vinegar (to cut grease if any). If you are reusing canning lids, apply the lid to the cleaned jar and attach the band. If you are reusing one piece lids from commercially filled glass jars attach lids to just the point where the lid starts to resist tightening.
I explore reusing canning lids and how I tighten the lids more in my blog Recycle canning lids, upcycle canning lids and repurpose canning lids....but can I reuse canning lids for home canning?.
Place the filled and lidded jar into the first layer of the pressure canner. Continue filling jars until the bottom of the pressure canner is full.
Because I am also exploring the reusing of commercially filled glass jars for pressure canning, I wanted to have all odd shaped glass jars on the bottom of the canner to ensure they were exposed to the full extent of pressure canning, including weight from a second layer and movement from boiling water. Adjust the jars to ensure maximum number of jars can be placed in the canner. Notice how the water is too high on the jars and so some water will be removed so that it is about 1/2 to 2/3 up the sides of the jars.
Once the water is removed, lay the metal divider on the bottom layer of jars and continue filling the remaining jars and place on top of the metal divider. Although I have been reusing canning lids for pressure canning for a while now, I wanted this to be an exploration of all things reused and so for the second layer, I am reusing canning lids and a continuous thread one piece lid on a canning jar.
Attach the lid to the pressure canner and turn the heat to high. Once steam starts coming out of the vent pipe AKA petcock in a steady stream, allow the pressure canner to vent for 10 minutes. After the 10 minutes attach your weighted gauge. For my area, I need to use 15 pounds of pressure so I apply the weighted gauge so that the 15 is closest to the pressure canner and upright (as if written) when applied to the petcock. Once the weighted gauge starts to jiggle, I turn down the heat slowly so that I am getting about 4 - 5 jiggles per minute. If you loose the pressure you will have to start over, so be sure to turn down slowly. It takes me about 10 minutes to get from a hard jiggle to the necessary number of jiggles that ensures my canner is at 15 pounds pressure. For my canner, this is about 4 - 5 jiggles per minute.. To find what pressure you need to use for your area, based on your altitude, click here
Process the Vegan Beans for 1 hour and 15 minutes for pint jar size or smaller. After the processing time is finished, turn the heat off and allow the pressure canner to cool off on its own and come down to zero pressure. Once the pressure canner is at zero pressure, remove the lid and just set it on the canner for an additional 5 minutes to allow for a slow cooling of the jars.
Once the five minutes has passed, remove your jars and set on a t-towel to cool.
Congratulations! You are finished your Vegan Beans.
The results of using Odd shaped glass jars
As I mentioned earlier, the purposes of this exploration was to restock the pantry shelf with Vegan Beans and to determine if pressure canning was possible and safe reusing odd shaped glass jars from commercially filled glass jars with their associated one piece lids. And also, if reusing canning lids would result in a favorable conclusion.
Through the entire canning process "stages" I listened for a cracking jar or a lid to blow off from the pressure or a jar to blow, ready to abandon the experiment if necessary. The 10 minute venting came and went and nothing happened. The pressure canner came to pressure and nothing happened. And the 1 hour and 15 minutes came and went and nothing happened. During the cool down period I waited for the lids to blow off, but nothing happened. When I took the pressure canner lid off I expected to see bulging lids beyond belief and although the one piece lids were slightly bulged, there was nothing out of the norm of what I am used to. Although I only apply the one piece lids to a point of slight resistance, there is usually some bulging or doming of the one piece lid when I use them in hot water bath canning. So again, not outside of what I am used to. There was some hissing from the odd jar, but this is not unexpected either. Also notice how very little water disappeared from the pressure canner water level I set at the start of this process.
I lifted each jar out of the canner and put on the towel to cool. I even dropped one of the commercially filled glass jars in the canner because I did not have a great hold on the jar and the one piece lids don't have a great lip for the lifter to grab. But it did not break or blow. There is a bit of a bulge (convex shape) to the lids, but again nothing outside of the experiences I have reusing one piece canning lids and reusing canning lids in hot water bath canning.
And the next morning, every jar had sealed perfectly. Every reused canning lid and reused one piece lid was depressed (concave) indicating a seal.
At the end of this exploration into reusing odd shaped glass jars from commercially filled glass jars with their associated one piece lids and reusing canning lids for pressure canning, some of which were reused multiple times, I feel much more at ease about the process and feel that there is really no basis for not reusing canning lids or reusing commercially filled glass jars with their associated one piece lids. However, could this successful canning session just be beginners luck? To further explore this topic, I will be redoing this process using quart size category jars. Please be sure to watch for these results in an upcoming blog post.
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