How to Can Green Beans for Beginners

Cut green beans into short pieces for canning.

Cut green beans into short pieces for canning.

Green beans are easy to can. You pick them, quickly snap or cut them in half or short pieces, simmer them for four minutes or less, pack them in jars, and process them in the canner for less than half an hour.

Canned beans are delicious and versatile; they can be served as a side dish or included in a salad or casserole.

Select fresh green beans which are young, tender, smooth, and crisp. Beans should snap easily and be free of blemishes and spots. You want to avoid shriveled, discolored, or fibrous pods. The seeds of young beans will not be bulging through the pod; these will be the most tender—and flavorful.

The best practice is to can beans immediately after they have been picked, but beans will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days without losing too much crispness or flavor.

You will need about 1 to 1½ pounds of fresh picked beans for each quart jar.

Directions for Canning Green Beans

1. Wash and heat the jars and scald the lids.

2. Wash and rinse and the beans in several changes of cool water; lift the beans out of water and drain.

3. Snap off the stems and tops (fresh beans will snap easily). You can leave the pointy end of the bean if you like—this gives a restaurant finish to whole beans. Most hybrid beans are now stringless, but remove the strings if present.

4. There are several ways to prepare the beans for canning: (1) Simply leave the beans whole; (2) Snap the beans in half; (3) Cut or break the beans into uniform pieces, 1- to 2-inch pieces; (4) “French” cut the beans lengthwise on a diagonal.

5. Prepare only enough beans for one canner load at a time.

6. Pack whole or cut beans into jars either hot or raw.

Hot pack: Blanch the beans in boiling water or broth for 1 to 4 minutes to wilt. For every 3 cups cut beans, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Remove the beans from the cooking water (reserve the cooking water). Fill hot jars with hot beans, shaking the jar to pack fairly tightly. (Optional: add ½ teaspoon salt to pint jars; add 1 teaspoon salt to quart jars.) Stand whole beans on ends or pack cut beans to the jar shoulder. Pour hot cooking liquid over beans, leaving 1 inch headspace.

Raw pack: Fill jars with cut beans no longer than 1 inch. Shake the jars to pack fairly tightly. Pack the jars up to the jar shoulders. (Add salt as above if you like.) Cover the beans with hot water or broth, leaving 1 inch headspace.

7. Run a thin non-metallic spatula utensil around the inside of the jar to allow air to escape. Press on beans to release trapped air.

8. Wipe sealing edge of jars with a clean, damp, lint-free cloth. Position flat lids over the tops of jars and hand-tighten screw bands.

9. Place jars on a rack in a pressure canner. Adjust the water level in the canner following manufacturer’s instructions and lock the lid. Adjust the heat to medium-high and bring the water to a boil. Leave the vent open until steam has escaped for 10 minutes. Then put weigh on the vent.

10. Bring pressure to 10 pounds for altitudes of 1,000 feet or less. Maintain pressure to process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes. Check you altitude and manufacturer’s instruction for variations.

11. Turn off heat; let pressure return to zero. Once the gauge shows 0 pressure wait 2 minutes then unlock and remove the canner lid. Wait 10 minutes before lifting the hot jars from the canner and place them on a clean towel or rack. Do not re-tighten screw bands.

12. Let the jars cool to room temperature. This may take from 12 to 24 hours. Remove and store the screw bands and check the lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the lid does not flex, you have a good vacuum seal.

13. Wipe and label sealed jars. Store in a cool, dark place.