There are a lot of people out there who think that there’s nothing to can during the winter months. That when the cold days roll in, the best thing to do is just hang up the canning pot and apply one’s energy to emptying the jars they spent so much time filling up during summer and fall.
And while it’s true that there’s less to can this time of year, there are a number of pantry building projects you can do during this time of year, particularly if you have a pressure canner.
Restocking my supply of home canned beans is one of my particular favorite projects to take on when outdoor temperatures plummet (it’s just 8 degrees F today in Philly). While store bought canned beans are plenty cheap for most budgets, dried beans are even more affordable. When you soak, simmer, and process your own beans, you’re reducing the amount of waste you product (no cans into the recycling) and you’re making better tasting beans. It’s a winning situation, if you ask me.
I wrote a post all about how to process beans in a pressure canner this time last year and it’s such a useful post (if I do say so myself) that I thought it merited a reminder.
Once you have a stash of home canned beans in the pantry, you use them just like you would cans of beans from the grocery store. I regularly stir them into batches of soup or chili, and use them to top trays of homemade nachos. They’re also good for burrito bowls and adding extra protein to salad.
You can also pre-season the beans with ground spices, a sliver of chile pepper or some fresh herbs before canning, so that they become even more useful meal starters (later this week, I’ll be posting a variation on this pressure canning technique that I use to make ready-to-use white bean and rosemary soup).
Last year when I first posted this bean tutorial, the post also included a giveaway from the nice folks at Mighty Nest. Happily, they’ve agreed to offer a giveaway with this one as well! Use the widget below to enter for a chance to win a 6 Quart Dutch Oven, a set of six 1/2 liter mold jars (they’re the same ones pictured above), and a People Who Love to Eat Tea Towel. Additionally, Mighty Nest will donate $150 to the winner’s school of choice.