Category Archives: Retro Skills

Sewing, crafting, knitting, leather work… these and more of those skills that made our Grandma’s arms strong!

Pressure Canning Organic Dry Beans

To start off I have to admit that I didn’t come up with this nifty idea… just found it elsewhere online. But wanted to share… it’s fantastic!
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I have previously been frustrated with my efforts to pressure can dry beans. Whether pinto or turtle, garbanzos or Great Northerns, the silly things always come out terribly messy and mooshy. The currently accepted method of home canning beans involves pre-soaking and then cooking for 30 minutes before loading into hot jars. By the time you finish the suggested 90 minute processing time, your beans are pre-fried. 🙂 Yuk. Not that I don’t enjoy refried beans as well as anyone who ever lived in Texas, but, I want my chickpeas/garbanzos to LOOK like chickpeas/garbanzos. I want a Great Northern to have a shape, a navy bean to salute, a black-eyed pea to wink at me. Well, you know what I mean.
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Enter the PREVIOUSLY accepted method of home canning beans.

Ready for the canner

Ready for the canner


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Yes, those beans are dry, uncooked, unsoaked… or they were, before they were loaded 1/2 cup at a time into clean pint jars (warm from a recent scrubbing bath, but not boiling hot), had seasonings added (in this case, the green-tinted jars had 1/2 tsp summer savory added), then boiling water poured over them. Seal them with your warm lids and rings, load them up in the canner.
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Placed in pre-heated pressure canner

Placed in pre-heated pressure canner


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Process according to pressure cooker directions (full steam vent for 10 minutes, apply weight – in my case, 15# due to elevation here in Montana, then begin timing) for 90 minutes for pint jars. I haven’t tried this with quart jars yet, as I expect that the more densely-packed beans may take longer to absorb liquid. Let the canner cool down on it’s own and release pressure before removing lid.
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I just can’t bring myself to pay over $3/can for organic beans… but I use beans ALOT. And I like to cook what inspires me, so pre-planning and going through the process of cooking a pot of beans in the morning (having soaked overnight, or done the 2-hour quick soak method) doesn’t always work for me. I like to have beans to make a quick soup (or to bean-up the soup I’ve already made, or stretch leftovers), to top a salad, to provide a fast side dish… beans are inexpensive (if you’re not buying them already canned) and great for us. So spending an afternoon running the canner saves me time and money later.
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From start (with equipment, beans, clean jars all assembled) to finish (pulling the bubbling jars from the cooled-down canner) takes me about 3 hours and 30 minutes. Since I have two canners (I’m rich! I’m rich!!) I can get 18 pint jars of beans in the same length of time! But even with a single canner, 9 pints is an excellent return on the investment of your time, since you can easily do other things while the canner is roaring away on the stove. It’s a great way to spend a wintery day… do try to keep outside doors opening and closing to a minimum, as you want to maintain a steady temperature in the kitchen to prevent pressure changes within the canner… these can result in liquid boiling out of the jars during canning.

Now that's a bean!

Now that’s a bean!


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Pressure Canning Dry Beans
PINT JARS

1/2 cup dry beans (of any type)
1/2 tsp sea salt or other canning-type salt
seasonings as desired (garlic, savory, black pepper, etc)

1 – Add ingredients to warm pint jars.
2 – Cover with boiling water or broth to 1″ from rim. Be careful to be no more or less than this for best results!
3 – Process for 90 minutes at pressure recommended for your elevation (10# for sea level, 15# above 3,000).

Remember when you reheat your beans to eat them that they love a little fat for best digestibility – a nice glug of olive oil, for example! Bon Appetit!

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Chap-Aprons

OK so apparently I have a new semi-obsession with aprons. That being said, page 8 of the February-March 2011 Mary Jane’s Farm magazine has a photo of an absolutely adorable chap-apron made of light green gingham, with ruffles and a big pocket! TOO cute!!

Being the messy person in the kitchen that I am though, I knew that while those chap-aprons would work super well for me in the garden (covering my knees when I’m down in the dirt!), or just doing housework when I need to carry the phone, a hankie, whatever… but they won’t work at all for me in the kitchen, where I tend to *splash*.

So I decided to make this full-length chap-apron! It WAS a pair of Wranglers that were too big for me (Praise God and Hallelujah!!) finally only 3.5 years after my youngest was born, and a beloved, before-babies Wranglers top that was sadly still a big too snug. Now it’s a double-thickness top with working pockets and a fun, Daisy Duke style rope belt. Or maybe it was the Clampett girl. Whomever!! I like it. The leg straps are attached at both ends so you just step through it, then pull the top over your head (the collar). Aprons have to be pretty quick to get on and off, and real chaps take some snapping/tying etc as I recall from my chap-wearing, ranch-rodeo days! Technically they are more like chinks, as chaps are full-length waist to toe.

OK there are tons of ideas with this, like using that faux-suede fabric for a leather chaps look… fringe!!… (I love fringed chinks! oh my)… a flirtier, cuter cowgirl blouse… but this went along with my reduce-reuse-recycle goal and nothing was purchased for the making of this apron (sorry JoAnn’s Fabrics).

Fun!!

Putting By…

So all Spring, Summer and Fall I garden, garden, garden… and come inside to scrub off the dirt, pull out the canner, and start canning, canning, canning. Well, or freezing, freezing, freezing! Here are some of my summer-in-storage bounties from this season.

Tomato-wise, this year I planted, um, 18 “Celebrity” tomato seedlings, 1 “Mr Stripey” heirloom tomato, one “Pink Brandywine” heirloom (the king of tomatoes), and a couple of cherry tomato plants. So we had, well, ALOT of tomatoes to deal with!! I say “we” as in, the queenly sense. (grin) My Majesty!!!

So rather than lugging boxes of organic diced tomatoes home from Costco this year, “we” will be trotting downstairs to one of my storage areas to pull out a nice cool glass jar filled with red sunshine! I made diced/crushed versions, salsa (both red and green), spaghetti sauce (meatless – add meat later), and tomato paste. Oh, and lest I forget, the dehydrator was running pretty well non-stop as well, and I’ve got jars and ziplocs filled with dehydrated tomato slices, squash circles, and parsley. Recipes will follow on another date, but we really like “sundried” tomatoes with whole wheat pasta and a nice pasta sauce. Mmm.

Wish you could pull up a chair at our kitchen table and enjoy some chips and salsa with us!!

~ The Canning Queen

PS – the funny thing is, 100 years ago EVERYBODY did this. What else did they have time to do?? I love “putting by” but oh my word, it takes alot of work!! My little reserves make any self-respecting housewife’s storage from years back look pitiful. Thank You God for Costco in reserve!! (grin)

Cowgirl in the Kitchen

What do you make as a gift for two of the best gal friends in the world?? Cowgirl Aprons! Use them in the kitchen or the barn, they feature a pocket (which I find critical in an apron) on the front waist. The best part is that these were “recycled” from cowboy shirts! A couple of hours with a pair of sharp scissors and a sewing machine, and my gal pals have new aprons to keep the molasses off their duds.