Friday, February 15, 2013

Ask Granny... Dry Beans, Pressure Canners, Hot Plates, Pectin, Removing Rings, Reusing Lids

(This is really MY very own Granny Smith!)

Q. I can’t seem to get a handle on cooking dry beans…cook them before pressure cooking? or do not cook? ~ SS

A. The "canning experts" recommend soaking and partially cooking dry beans before canning. Some folks can them dry... for quarts use a cup of beans, for pints, used a half cup of beans... fill the jars with boiling water... add salt, other seasonings and veggies or meats, put hot, sterilized lids on and pressure can at 10 lbs. pressure for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts. (the lbs. pressure and times are the same as for canning soaked and pre-cooked beans) ~CG

Q. I am considering getting a pressure canner. I have never used one before. What is a good one to get? ~ MJ

A. My personal opinion is get the best you can afford, a pressure canner is an investment that will last for many years. I really like my All-American pressure canner (they come in several sizes). It's easy to use, has no gasket to ever have to replace, has both a weighted gauge and a dial gauge, heats and comes up to pressure quickly, and is a real work horse. It is, however, expensive ($200-$400) and is definitely an investment that will last a lifetime and probably the lifetimes of several generations. A less expensive, but still great canner, is the Presto (16 qt. or 23 qt.) which is less than half the cost of the All-American. It DOES have a rubber gasket that will need to be replaced every few years. But it's a good pressure canner. ~CG

Q. Can you use an electric hot plate to pressure can? ~KD

A. In short, yes... but don't make the mistake I did by purchasing an inexpensive hot plate... get a good one... the one I bought wouldn't heat up enough to EVER bring the water to a boil in my canner. I have no recommendations as to brand since I gave up on the hot plate idea after my "cheap hot plate" experience (it was a $29 Black and Decker) ~CG

Q. Is it possible to substitute powdered pectin for liquid pectin? ~SH

A. Yes!
1 Tbsp liquid pectin = 2 tsp powdered pectin.
Mix 1 package powdered pectin in 1/2 cup water and boil for 1 minute. Pour into a measuring cup and add enough water to make 1 cup. Use as you would liquid pectin. ~CG

Q. After I am finished canning am I supposed to remove the rings from the jars? and why or why not? ~JR

A. Yes, you should remove the rings after about 24-48 hours and before you store your filled jars, for several reasons... first, during the canning process, a vacuum is created, causing the jars to seal... during the process air is "burped" out of the jar and sometimes a bit of food or liquid "burps" out with the air and can become trapped underneath the ring and cause rust, lids that are difficult to remove, or spoilage. Also, if (heaven forbid!)  your jar lids come unsealed after they are stored... leaving the lids on can make it more difficult to spot an unsealed lid and if spoilage occurs, can even cause jars to break from the swelling of the spoiled food... if just the flat part of the lid is on the jar and it comes unsealed or the food inside spoils, the lid will just pop off... a much easier mess to clean up than broken glass mixed with smelly, spoiled food. ~CG

Q. I have friends who re-use their canning lids. I didn't know that they could or should be re-used. Can they be reused ~AL

A. It's not recommended to reuse the flat part of canning lids, they're made for single-use only (you can reuse the rings over and over again)... I personally never reuse lids, it's just not worth the chance you take with all the work you put into preserving food... some folks do it and have no problems... I won't take that chance myself. ~CG


  1. I reuse my canning lids - but not for canning! They are great to use if you have a vacuum seal mason jar attachment....or for storing dry goods in mason jars. Since I write the product and date on the lid, I know they are used and won't get them mixed up with unused lids!

  2. When you make jelly and it doesn't set what is the process to do next and also it you kept the canned product is it still good to use to recook

  3. Hi Canning Granny, I have a question about storage for all this canning I am into. I was told years ago dark, cool place. I am wanting to start a storage room in a spare bedroom but it does get full afternoon light through my mini blinds. What do ya think? my basement gets too cold to store down there as it is unheated in East TN. Thanks Carla

    1. I live in an area where there are no basements - your house would slide right off the foundation! Your stored foods will do just fine in a spare bedroom - just keep the direct heat and light off them. You could keep the room darkened, but, if that's not convenient, try this: keep a supply of brown paper luncheon-type bags around. I don't use the ones off the grocery-store shelf; they're too flimsy. I buy them from my local farmer's market; they're very heavy; I pay about 10 cents each, but get many uses from one bag. When your canned product is fully cooled, you've washed the jars, marked them, and they're ready to put away, slip each jar in a bag; tape the top of the bag down, if you like, or, just roll it down, whatever works best for you. Use a black marker to mark the outside of the bag as to product and date; now set it in its place.

      These thick paper bags will help keep the food protected from light and even, to some degree, fluctuations in temps in the storage area, as long as they don't draw too much moisture.

      When you use a jar, cross out the info and reuse the bag. When the outside of the bag is all marked up, turn it inside out and continue to reuse it.

      When you can't reuse it like this any more, find a new use, or, put it in the compost bin. Yes, it's compost material!

    2. I should also mention, you can store them like this in boxes or on a shelf; if the jars get "bumped" somehow, the paper bags will provide some level of protection against damage. Also, if they should happen to take a serious tumble, you will still have breakage, but the bags should absorb much of the product - not such a mess to clean up!

  4. All beans should be soaked before cooking/canning, but ESPECIALLY red kidney beans. Soak for several hours (6-8) and pour this liquid off; cook with FRESH liquid. Here's why:

    From: (this article is about red kidney beans, but all beans contain this compound, in differing amounts; lima beans are also high in it. NEVER EAT RAW BEANS.)


    Even though red kidney beans are extremely nutritious, they contain a chemical known as phytohemagglutinin. Red kidney beans have the highest content of this chemical of all of the types of beans. This toxin is a type of lectin, or a protein that has an affinity for binding to certain types of sugars. Symptoms of its toxicity include diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can occur within an hour or two after consumption, and the effects last for several hours. Call your doctor if you experience these symptoms.
    Proper Preparation

    Raw kidney beans are high in phytohemagglutinin, but the compound is almost completely degraded when the beans are cooked properly. It only takes 10 minutes in boiling water to degrade the toxin, which is much less time than it takes to fully cook the beans. Be careful when you prepare kidney beans in a slow cooker, because the temperature does not get high enough to fully degrade the toxin. Though you can cook most other beans in a slow cooker, it is best to cook kidney beans in boiling water.
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    Read more:

  5. I do hear a lot about the All-American. Never heard anyone who used it say they did not like it. Unfortunately, they ARE very expensive. I, for one, can not afford one.

    But I do have several VINTAGE (older) National/Presto units which I have collected over the years. National is the original name of the Presto company, so, they are basically "one and the same".

    I prefer the older models to newer ones, and I do have both. The older canners are thicker metal, as a result, they distribute heat and hold it more evenly, so they are not as labor intensive as a newer one (don't require as much "baby-sitting"). I believe they also use less energy, since they do heat up faster and distribute that heat better, although I've never tested that theory.

    I have bought these over the years at yard sales and 2nd hand shops; just know what you're doing before you buy. They often get sold without all the components, and, especially for older ones, those components can be difficult or impossible to find.

    Yes, you will need to replace gaskets and probably the safety fuse, as well; might even need to replace the dial gauge (although I've never had to do this). You can get all these from online sources; do be aware that all replacement parts now come from China, and, like everything else made in China, will be "imperfect" from day one.

    Personally, I have several sizes. The smallest SAFE size of canner is a 12-quart. I have a National # 5, which is a 12-quart, circa 1940's; like to never found the parts I needed, but, it works beautifully. My favorite canner is the 12-qt Guardian Ware; it is "whisper quiet" as it works, so, don't worry if it doesn't make sounds - it's working well!

    I also have 16, 17, 21, and 23 quart Presto units from the 1970s until present time. I wouldn't trade my 1970's (yellow) Presto for all the new ones in China.

    I do keep lots of extra gaskets and parts, as I use mine year around.

    This is just to say that, while an All-American would be nice, if you're like me and can't pop that much $$ at one time, one of the standard gasket-types work great, if you know what you're doing (just like anything else).

    Happy Canning, y'all!

    1. I've got an old Presto (given to me after my husband's grandmother passed away) and a newer one that we bought years ago and I tend to use my old one more often. I like it better.

  6. Granny, have you, or anyone you know, used the new Tattler canning lids that are re-useable? Just wondering if they would be worth buying. I'm new to canning and have a limited budget. I just love your website and the good info you share! Thanks so much. Victoria in CT.

    1. I also would like to know about the Tattler lids--thank you--

  7. I use my hot plate for keeping stuff hot. Either the lids or the liquid I'm going to add to the jars. Works great for that and frees up a little room on the stove top.

    1. What kind of hot plate do you use? I have been researching several brands and I have not found one that really stands out. I too am looking for a hot plate for the exact same reason you mentioned above.

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  9. I want to do this soup and can it soon I am just wondering if it needs to be processed so long since it sounds like it is fully cooked. Thank you

  10. My sister sent me the link to your blog...and I'm so happy she did!! I have a question....I'm shopping for a new canner and am considering the All American, but don't want to use a dial. I really like jiggler...did I understand that you have a jiggler on your AA canner?

    1. The AA canner has both... dial gauge AND jiggler (weighted gauge) which is GREAT! I love mine! ~~Granny

  11. Just wondering about the cook times on the beans. every site I have found says 75 min. for pints. But the BBB calls for 1 hr 20 min for pints and that's after soaking overnight, cooking the next day , then can . I want to be safe but I don't want the beans to be mush .any info would be welcome thanks ,Kim

  12. Planning to can today, I know what is recommended is 1 cup beans no soak per quart and I want to use 1 1/2 c beans with 1/2 c chopped ham. I would like to have more beans in my qt jar. Does anyone know if this would work or too much pressure for that amount of beans in jar?

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