Green Bean Bonanza 

My number one, least favorite thing to do in the garden is picking green beans. 

I loathe picking green beans. 

However, I love eating green beans. So every summer I dutifully haul out my big canvas harvesting bag and set to work picking, getting covered in a prickly rash and becoming very cross in the process. 

And every summer I mutter and curse under my breath the entire time that next year I am not letting the DreadBrewer plant a billion beans, even if we all adore green beans. 

Our go-to bean cultivar is Prevail, with our seeds usually purchased from Park Seed. These bush beans are crazy prolific, heat tolerant, pest resistant, upright… pretty much the whole package when it comes to beans. We’ve tried other cultivars in the past and always come back to Prevail. 

Even with staggered sowing dates, the two bean beds usually end up overlapping some and we end up drowning in beans. 

Some of our favorite ways to eat our beans are: 

-Steamed or boiled (this is the little girls’ favorite way to have them; they’re very boring. The girls, not the beans.) 

– Tossed with olive oil and garlic and roasted in the oven 

-Green Bean Pesto Pasta: combine 1 lb cooked short curly pasta (like gemelli), 1 lb beans (blanched but still crisp tender), and 8 oz pesto. It’s the most delicious combo ever 

Thrown into whatever stir fry we happen to be making, This is a version of one we’ve made a few times that is pretty tasty 

But no matter how many ways we cook them, we all eventually get sick of beans. And no matter how many pounds we give away, we somehow still have pounds of beans leftover. 

Thankfully DB got me the most phenomenal pressure cooker last year, making me much less anxious about canning our fresh veggies for storage. 

So in just a few short hours, I can turn this: 


Into this:


I figure we did about 8 or 9 pounds of beans today, which took me nearly a full hour to snap. Though having to do some of it with Itty Bitty on my hip definitely slowed things down some. By the time we filled the jars, got the canner loaded, and processed and cooled the jars, the whole thing took about 4 hours. But we got 14 jars today, plus the 12 we did a few weeks ago. I want to get 36 total done so we can have one a week when our bean beds finally fail. 

Looks like I better get my trusty canvas bag out and head back out for some more bean pickin’. 

I can’t wait. 

First Foray Into Pressure Canning

I doubt anyone but me remembers, but 2 summers ago – when I was home on maternity leave with BIT and bored out of my mind, as infants are terrible conversationalists – I tried my hand at canning some of our produce in an attempt to extend the harvest. However, I was limited by the fact that we didn’t have a pressure cooker – meaning I could only can high acid foods, like salsa – and that we only had a 3 gallon pot – meaning I could only process about 4 pint jars at a time.

Last year, we didn’t even bother trying to can things, other than a few jars of pickled jalapenos.

But this year we are canning for real. Because the DreadBrewer got me the pressure cookers to beat all pressure cookers last Christmas. In typical DB fashion, he purchased the highest rated (and probably most expensive) one he could find. Naturally it also happens to be enormous and required that we purchase a separate burner in order to prevent our glass cooktop from cracking under the weight of the behemoth when filled with water and jars and food.

Canning 1

Yep, it’s big. I know you’re jealous. 

For our first foray into pressure canning, we decided to go with something fairly straightforward and made a batch of green beans.

Canning 2

Pregnant and barefoot in the kitchen

We cleaned and snapped every single viable bean that we had left and got enough to fill 8 pint jars, which I feel like is a pretty respectable amount. If we had found the time and energy to do this when our beans had first started producing, I’m pretty sure we would’ve ended up with at least 25 jars but live and learn, right?

Canning 3

Yummy!

Everything with the pressure cooker went exactly according to the directions and all of the seals sucked down within half an hour of getting them out to cool. I didn’t think I could cram any more beans into each jar, but there’s definitely some space at the bottom after the beans floated up during processing. So maybe with our next batch I can try to fill them even fuller.

I think the next thing that we’re going to can are tomatoes, just halved and packed in water. There’s an awful lot of work involved trying to can tomatoes as tomato sauce and I’m not super interested in an awful lot of work at this point. I made a huge batch of homemade salsa fresca today, so it will probably be a few days before we get enough tomatoes to make canning worthwhile. I also want to try doing something with some peppers, if our pepper plants strap on a pair and start producing, and possibly something with okra. Though if we can okra, then I believe it’s mainly good for soups and stews and neither DB nor I are big fans of stewed okra. Maybe we would like our stewed okra? And if we are inundated with figs by our exceedingly generous neighbors again this year, I found a recipe for brandied figs that sounds like it would be amazing Christmas gifts in half-pint jars.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that the DreadBrewer was right to buy me an enormous pressure cooker because I’m planning on putting it to good use. I take back all the times I tried to get him to return it in exchange for a smaller one. Though I’m still not sure where we’re going to store the damn thing…