If you don’t like tinned green beans from the store, you’re not alone. Many don’t. But, home canned green beans taste nothing like that.
Green beans must be pressure-canned; there is no alternative way to can them unless you pickle them. On this page, we’re going to work through the USDA directions for pressure-canning them. Their directions make the canning quick and easy.
Green beans (aka string, snap or French beans) can up beautifully at home. Many people prefer them to home-frozen green beans, because while most varieties of green beans can up nicely, only a few varieties of green beans freeze successfully without becoming mooshy upon being thawed.
You can heat them up on their own, or, use them as an ingredient in recipes.
You can also can them half and half in a jar with a veg that takes a relatively similar time, such as carrots. As with all vegetable combos, you process for the longest time (so that would be 5 minutes longer, for the carrots.)
Quantities of green beans needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
On average, as a very rough guideline, expect to need about 1 kg (2 lbs) of green beans per 1 litre (US quart) jar of canned green beans .
- 6 kg (14 lbs) of green beans = 7 litres (US quarts) canned beans
- 4 kg (9 lbs ) of green beans = 9 x 1/2 litres (US pints) canned green beans
- 1 US bushel green beans = 23 1/2 kg (30 lbs) = 12 to 20 litres (US quarts) canned green beans
Jar size choices: Either half-litre (1 US pint) OR 1 litre (1 US quart)
Processing method: Pressure canning only
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 20 minutes; litres (quarts) 25 minutes.
Green beans are very easy to can; most of the work is in the prep.
Serving size: 250 g
- Green beans
- Wash the green beans, change water, then re-wash the green beans, and give them a final rinse under running water from the tap as you lift them out of sink.
- Top them to get stems off; no need to tail them.
- Leave whole, or chop or break into 2 to 3 cm (1 inch) pieces, or of whatever length you like.
- HOT PACK: Put in a large pot of water, bring to a boil, then boil for 5 minutes. OR RAW PACK: skip this blanching step.
- Pack into half-litre (US pint) jars or 1 litre (US quart) jars. (Pack more tightly if doing raw pack.)
- Leave 3 cm (1 inch) headspace.
- Optional: a pinch of salt or non-bitter, non-clouding salt sub per jar.
- Top up with clean boiling water (such as from a kettle, for instance), maintaining headspace.
- Debubble, adjust headspace.
- Wipe jar rims.
- Put lids on.
- Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet.)
- Processing time: half-litre (US pint) jars for 20 minutes OR 1 litre (US quart) jars for 25 minutes.
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canner. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|1/2 litre (1 US pint)||20 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||25 mins||10 lbs||15 lb|
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
More information about Salt-Free Canning in general.
- Instead of clean boiling water to fill the jars with, you can use the blanching water if you wish. Some experts say use the blanching water, others say use fresh water.
- Hot pack is an extra step, but it is preferred by most experienced canners for a higher-quality end product. “The hot-water blanch is recommended. If not blanched, beans must be packed deliberately tight.”1
- If you do raw pack, the reason that you need to pack them in more tightly is that they will shrink as they lose air during processing.
Beans, Snap and Italian – Pieces, Green and Wax. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 4-8.
Serving size: 250 g, drained (about one half of a 1/2 litre / US pint jar, if 500 g went into the jar.)
- 78 calories, 15 mg sodium
- Weight Watchers PointsPlus®: 0 points (green beans are free on Weight Watchers).
* Nutrition info provided by http://caloriecount.about.com
* PointsPlus™ calculated by healthycanning.com. Not endorsed by Weight Watchers® International, Inc, which is the owner of the PointsPlus® registered trademark.
Can green beans the safe way
Green beans are the home canned vegetable most associated with botulism.
You probably felt your blood run cold just reading that. But rest assured: it’s never been green beans that were properly processed in a pressure canner. The authors of Putting Food By address the issue head-on,
Green beans are the most popular vegetable canned by North American householders. They also are established as being the single most likely source of botulism poisoning among home-canned foods. But please don’t forgo canning them: just process them in a Pressure Canner for the time stipulated, making any needed adjustment for altitude.” 2
Whenever there’s a case of the nasties associated with home canned green beans, it’s always been because people have water bath canned them instead of pressure canning them.
So just follow the recommendations and pressure-can them. Besides, the water-bathing advice you may see runs up to 3 hours of boiling time. Think of the time and energy expense just to still get an unsafe product. In a pressure canner, it’s only 20 to 25 minutes depending on size of jar. Why on earth would you waste extra cooking fuel, and time, to start with, let alone for something that still wouldn’t be safe to eat?
The history of green bean processing recommendations
The recommendation that green beans (and other vegetables) should only be canned with a pressure canner has been around since 1926:
It was not until Farmers’ Bulletin No. 1471, ‘Home Canning of Fruits and Vegetables,’ (Stanley, 1926) was issued in 1926 that pressure canning was the only method recommended for low-acid vegetables.” 3
In its 1930 radio programs, the USDA recommended pressure canning:
The next question is about canning string beans. Beans are among the non-acid vegetables, which should be processed at a temperature higher than boiling, and this is possible only under steam pressure. So we’ll use the steam-pressure canner for our string beans. Pick them over carefully, string them, wash thoroughly, and cut into pieces of desired size. Add enough boiling water to cover, and boil for 5 minutes in an uncovered vessel. Pack in containers boiling hot. Cover the beans with the water in which they were boiled and add 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart. Process immediately at 10 pounds pressure, or 240 degrees Fahrenheit, quart glass jars for 40 minutes, pint glass jars for 35 minutes…. [Ed: you’ll note that research since has been able to reduce those processing times.] 4
That being said, for reasons unknown a 1941 circular from North Carolina none-the-less gave dangerous advice that string beans (aka green beans) could be water-bathed:
In ‘Simplified Methods For Home and Community Canning’ the hot-water canner is recommended, as directions are given only for products that can be safely canned at boiling temperature, 212 degrees, F. This list includes only tomatoes, fruits, freshly-gathered, young, tender string beans, and a pre-cooked soup mixture containing a large proportion of tomatoes.” 5
Illinois in 1947 got things back on track giving the recommendations that are still used today: pressure-can at 10 lbs, 20 minutes for US pints (half-litres) and 25 minutes for US quarts (litres).
Note as well that the recommendation to double-wash was included here, thus putting that recommendation back at least as far as the 1940s. 6
How to wash your green beans
In the 36th edition of it’s Blue Book, Ball said to “wash beans in several changes of water then lift beans out of water and drain.” (Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. Daleville, Indiana: Hearthmark LLC. Edition 36. 2013. Page 70.) In the 37th edition of the same book, however, Ball changed its directions to: “Wash beans under cold running water…” 9
In our canning directions above, we’ve combined the two Ball approaches.
Soft versus firm canned green beans
Most people feel that the quality of the home canned green bean, in terms of firmness versus softness, comes down to the variety. For instance, some people swear by some varieties versus others.
The authors of Putting Food By don’t agree: they feel that it’s more down to hard versus soft water:
People have written to PFB often about how to avoid having mushy canned green beans, and the answer first and always is never cut down on the Pressure-processing time. The warning holds true regardless of the part of North America the query comes from, and regardless of the varieties, growing conditions, and hardness or softness of the water for canning. Variety is the least important factor in the result, actually. If you grow your own you might plant an old-fashioned pole bean. But do ask your County Agricultural Agent for varieties that do well for canning in your area; especially look at some of the tender new hybrids—these are likely to be more satisfactory when frozen. The hardness or softness of the water in your area of course has a bearing on the texture of the finished product. Rainwater, or water chemically treated to be very soft, can make the beans slough or get soft very quickly when brought to a full, rolling boil for serving at the table. This is the reason why commercial canners sometimes give their beans a meticulously controlled low-temperature blanch for a few minutes before proceeding to Hot-pack and Pressure-process them (a pre-treatment that sets the calcium pectate in the beans’ outer tissues). You can achieve much the same result by Raw-packing your beans. Perhaps the most sensible solution: simply choose beans for canning that are a little more mature than you’d use immediately for the table or for freezing. PFB was given this tip by several plant scientists, who added that signs of bumpiness indicate that the bean seeds are starting to develop and fill the pods, and the tissues therefore will be more likely to stay firm in canning.” 10
Cooking with canning
Hertzberg, Ruth; Greene, Janet; Vaughan, Beatrice (2010-05-25). Putting Food By: Fifth Edition (p. 135). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩
Hertzberg, Ruth; Greene, Janet; Vaughan, Beatrice (2010-05-25). Putting Food By: Fifth Edition (p. 133). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩
Andress, Elizabeth L and Gerald Kuhn. Critical Review of Home Preservation Literature and Current Research. II. Early History of USDA Home Canning Recommendations. Athens, GA: University of Georgia, Cooperative Extension Service. 1983. ↩
USDA Radio Service. Housekeepers’ Chat. Canning Beans and Tomatoes. 1 July 1930. ↩
McKimmon, Jane S. and Cornelia C. Morris. Simplified Methods for Home and Community Canning. North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service. Pamphlet #39. March 1941. ↩
Tanner, F.W. and Grace B. Armstrong. Canning Fruits and Vegetables. Circular 614. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Extension Service. June 1947. Page 7. ↩
Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Page 87. ↩
Kingry, Judi and Lauren Devine. Ball / Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving. Toronto: Robert Rose. 2015. Page 386. ↩
Ball Blue Book. Muncie, Indiana: Healthmark LLC / Jarden Home Brands. Edition 37. 2014. Page 111. ↩
Hertzberg, Ruth; Greene, Janet; Vaughan, Beatrice (2010-05-25). Putting Food By: Fifth Edition (p. 134). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. ↩