07 October 2013

CSA home canning: green beans and carrots

About 5 parts beans to 1 part carrots

Hauled out the pressure canner again yesterday and put up 5 pints of green beans and carrots. The jars should come in handy for side dishes and soup this winter.

I had a surplus of produce this week because a friend was out of town and offered me their household's Community-Supported Agriculture vegetable share. Since I follow the Rowhouse Livin' Law of Hand-Me-Downs ("always accept hand-me-downs"), I jumped at the opportunity. I ended up filling my fridge to bursting, but by Sunday it was getting clear to me that it would be impossible to consume everything we had before this week's delivery. I knew what I had to do.

The haul included about 2 quarts of string beans and a bunch of red-skinned carrots. I carefully washed the beans and chopped them into uniform pieces. Then I peeled the carrots and sliced them. I tossed it all into a large stockpot, covered with water, brought to a boil, and simmered for 5 minutes. I packed them into pint jars and added cooking liquid, leaving 1 inch headspace. Then into the pressure canner they went.

Timing: Carrots (pints) require 25 minutes, and beans (pints) take 20 minutes. The rule of thumb is to go by the time for the vegetable that takes the longest, so I processed them at 10 pounds pressure for 25 minutes. By which I mean I processed them at 240 degrees F plus a little bit, for 25 minutes and a little bit. That way, I have some wiggle room if the temperature starts to fall and I don't catch it right away.

I still feel that I haven't done much canning this year. On the other hand, every time I run something through the pressure canner, I end up with meal-type foods, as opposed to condiments, sauces, and jams or fruit butters. So it goes a lot further for stocking my pantry for easy dinners and emergencies. We haven't had much of a hurricane season this year, but it ain't over yet, and we're overdue for a harsh winter. As I mentioned earlier, I'm sad to have missed my usual small-jar products this season, but our shelves really are filling up. Just not with the sweet treats I usually produce too much of.

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