Canned baked beans are one of those ultimate convenience foods. Open, stick in a spoon and eat. Well, most of us heat it up, but many bachelors will tell you that that is optional. And they’re cheap. But do you know what is cheaper?
Canning your own.
Dried navy beans are incredibly inexpensive. And although you certainly can cook them with a quick cook method, that is not quite as good as the slow cooked method.
Who has the time for that?
In addition, if you are living without refrigeration (yes, many people do), what will you do with that huge batch of baked beans?
Start by placing 6 1/2 cups dried navy beans in water to cover. This requires a BIG pot. You will need about 3 cups of water per cup of dried beans. Leave them on the counter overnight.
Overnight means about twelve hours.
After soaking, change the water (not necessary, but some say it reduces the gas) and boil the beans until they are soft.
Really soft. Once you add the sauce, they will not soften any more.
Do NOT drain the beans unless you are going to bake them and eat them immediately. In order to can the beans, they need a lot of liquid.
Add 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons molasses (blackstrap is good!), 3 cups ketchup, 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder, 1 1/2 cups sugar and stir it all in. I like to add a generous teaspoon of onion and garlic powder, too.
IF you are baking them for immediate use, pour enough of the cooking water to just cover the beans, cover with a lid and bake at 325F for at least 3 hours. Check occasionally and add water if it is drying out.
An important note: most directions will tell you to have jars, food and canning pot of water all piping hot. I don’t do that because I find it difficult to keep everything at the same temperature (and I expect most people do), and differences in temperature cause thermal shock. Therefore I usually add room temperature food to room temperature jars and place them in room temperature water. No thermal shock and no jars broken.
To can your beans, fill 18 clean pint jars with the beans. Carefully clean the edges and add lids and rings. Process these in a PRESSURE CANNER for 65 minutes.
It is also possible to can plain beans. Just do everything except adding the sauce! It’s fun to take them out of the pressure canner and watch the liquid still bubbling in the jars. Listen for the ping as the lids seal!
You could also put your beans in quart jars, which would leave you with some for dinner. Process quarts for 75 minutes.
If you like this, you’re going to love my cookbook A Cabin Full of Food. Containing nearly a thousand recipes and tips, interwoven with personal stories, nothing requires a freezer, fridge (although a cool or cold place, depending on the season, is useful!), microwave or food processor. Simple, classic, no frills – food that your grandmother would have recognized.
Sum it up – what do I NEED to pressure can?
- A safe, modern pressure canner. Two of the most popular ones are Presto 23 quart pressure canner and All American 921 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner The Presto is the least expensive option and many people use it, but survivalists and preppers might want the consider the All-American, which does not need replacement gaskets every year.
- A second canning rack for the Presto (the All-American comes with two)
- A canning kit with magnetic lid lifter, jar lifter and more
- Optionally, but I recommend it, a stainless steel canning funnel
- If you have a Presto canner, a three piece weighted regulator because the canner really should come with one but does not. Having an extra sealing Ring on hand is also wise because my experience is that they fail when you have vital canning to do.
- Jars. Do not re-use glass jars from jam and other condiments. They are made for single use and are not designed to withstand pressure canning a second time. I mostly use pint jars but you can also use half-pints or quarts. The first jars you buy will come with lids and rings. After that, buy canning lids. The reusable canning lids are more expensive but are worth the price.
- Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving: 400 Delicious and Creative Recipes for Today
The initial output is fairly high, but every item in that list will last you for *years*.