Monday, February 22, 2010

What to do with 25lbs of Oats

There is a wonderful website and she had this article I wanted to share.

What to Do with 25lbs of Oats
by Crystal Miller

Buying grains in bulk quantities (25 or 50lb bags) is a great way to save money. Oats are a great food source and low in cost. They are high in vitamins B1 and E and also contain protein and many other valuable minerals that our bodies need. They have the most soluble fiber of any grain. They also help to stabilize blood sugar. What a great economical source of health providing food to feed your family!

Now that you know how great oats are for your health and your budget what are some ways to use this power packed food?

Oats are a great choice for breakfast! Cold breakfast cereals can be very hard on a budget and feeding oatmeal for breakfast is a great alternative.

Our Breakfast Oatmeal
Oatmeal is a breakfast that my children see often, especially in the winter months where a hot breakfast feels so good. It warms the insides and starts the day off right. I always serve oatmeal with toast made from my homemade bread.

Basic recipe, adjust to feed your family

1 cup water
½ cup oats
pinch of salt

Bring water and salt to a boil, add oats. Cook 5 minutes for quick oats and 10 to 15 minutes for regular oats. Serve with real maple syrup or honey to sweeten a bit and milk. Raisins and cinnamon added are optional. My son likes to stir in a big spoonful of peanut butter into his oatmeal.

If you want to improve the nutritional aspect of your oatmeal you can soak it the night before. I do this quite often. Combine water and oats in a cooking pot and add 1T yogurt, kefir, or whey for every cup of water. Let this soak overnight and in the morning add salt and cook oats. Soaking any grain before cooking allows for better absorption of the nutrients.

Besides oatmeal I have a few more favorite breakfast recipes that use oats:

Homemade Instant Oatmeal Mix
Baked Oatmeal
Oatmeal Pancakes
Overnight Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancakes
Cinnamon Oat Waffles
Raisin Oatmeal Scones
Peanut butter Granola
Stir a couple of tablespoons oats into a cup of yogurt

Oats can be added to baked goods. They are great in breads, muffins and cookies. Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Oat Dinner Rolls

I really love this recipe. The rolls also make great hamburger buns. If I want to use them for hamburger buns I make 18 rolls instead of the 24 the recipe calls for in dinner roll form. I also will often use this recipe to make cinnamon rolls.

Leftover Oatmeal Make too much oatmeal for breakfast? No problem!

Leftover Oatmeal Muffins
Leftover Oatmeal Cake

Cookies and Cakes Oats are wonderful addition to cookies and cakes. Here are my favorites:

Oatmeal Cookies
Big Batch Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Peanut butter Oatmeal Cookies
Cowboy Cookies
Oatmeal Spice Cake

Other Ways to use oats:

~You can use oats in place of cracker crumbs or bread in foods like meatloaf and meatballs.

~You can use oats to thicken stews and soups

~In baking you can replace up to 1/3 of the flour called for in a recipe with oats

~Add a 2 to 4 Tablespoons of oats to your next smoothie

~Ice Cream Sandwiches: Make a batch of oatmeal cookies and let them cool. Take vanilla ice cream and spread thickly on one cookie and top with a second cookie, freeze.

There are a few uses of oats that are not food related, but health related. Oats help to smooth and soften skin. They can also be helpful with eczema as well as itchy skin. Take an oatmeal bath! Put oats into a muslin bag or even an old nylon that has been washed and cleaned and tie this to the spout of your tub. As the water fills the tub it will run through the oats. Or you can boil a cup of oats in 2 quarts of water for a few minutes, stain out the oats and add the water to your bath.

A Few More Tidbits of Info on Oats

You can buy regular or quick cooking oats and typically use them interchangeably in recipes. The only difference between the two types is how thin they have been rolled. There are other varieties of oats such as “Scottish” oats which are very thick cut and may not work well in baking. Steel cut oats are the oat groat (the oat grain) that are cut in small pieces. They are great for a breakfast cereal but do not work well in other applications such as baking and cooking.

In the mid 1880’s here in the US, a German grocer in Ohio began hulling and selling oats to his fellow immigrants. At the time the main staple for breakfast in the Midwest was typically meat, eggs and potatoes, fruit. For most immigrants this was beyond what they could produce. Oats were mainly considered horse food, not people food when this Ohio grocer began selling it. He was ridiculed and made fun of for selling them! And today, oats are looked at as a very important part of a healthy diet.

Incidentally in a town that was not far from the first milling of oats a group of 3 men began doing the same thing as the German grocer. But instead of selling their steel cut oats in bulk they put them in a nice box, added cooking directions and called their product “Quaker Oats”.

So as you can see oats are a healthy and delicious way to help you stretch your grocery budget and provide good quality food for your family.

Bulk Taco Seasoning Mix

Bulk Taco Seasoning Mix

We are having taco salad for dinner tonight. I always cook up my hamburger and add taco seasonings to it before adding it to my salad. I realized this morning I was out of taco seasoning and it was time to make more. This is another product that I make myself now. We are not real big fans of the taste of the taco seasonings I at the store. A recent article I read said that if a product lists “spices” in their ingredient list and they purchase bulk mixed spices from a supplier that adds MSG to their spice mix then the company that uses the spice mix does not have to claim that it contains MSG. So basically something can say it is MSG free but still may contain MSG if they have the word "spices" listed in the ingredients. If you have MSG sensitivities like my hubby does or you just want to avoid it for health reasons … read your labels carefully!

Taco mix is so easy to make. It takes less than 15 minutes to make up a batch, the recipe doubles easily. I usually make a double batch but today I did not have enough dried onion, so I settled for a single batch.

Bulk Taco Seasoning Mix

¾ c dried onions
½ c chili powder
¼ c salt
3T garlic powder
3T cornstarch
3T ground cumin
1T to 3T cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Store in plastic or glass container with a lid.

It takes approx. 3T of this mix to equal one packet that you would buy in the store.

This recipe makes about 2 cups. I store it in a canning jar in my cupboard.

Bulk Whole Wheat Pancake Mix

Whole Wheat Pancake Mix
25 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 ¼ cups baking powder
¼ cup salt
6 2/3 cups powdered milk
Combine all ingredients very well in a large bowl. Transfer to zip type freezer bags, label. Store in freezer to keep flour fresh.
To make one batch:
3 cups mix
2 eggs
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups water
Combine mix, eggs and olive oil. Add half the water, stir and only add enough of the remaining water to achieve the consistency you desire. Bake on a hot skillet. Serve with butter and real maple syrup! Yum!!
Banana Pancakes:
1 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 large bananas) to one batch of pancake batter.
Blueberry Pancakes:
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries to one cup of pancake batter.
Chocolate Chip Pancakes:
½ to 1 cup chocolate chips to one batch of pancake batter.
Pumpkin Pancakes:
1t cinnamon
½ t ginger
To dry mix.
1 cup pureed pumpkin to one batch of pancake batter.

Trim the Budget: Breakfast Bargain

Trim the Budget: Breakfast Bargain

Breakfast is a great meal to incorporate those low cost basic foods.. Grains make a nutritious and filling meal. I am always looking to simplify my weekday breakfast routine in my home. I like to get breakfast done and over with quickly so we can move onto the important issues of the day. One food my children like me to have on hand is Instant Oatmeal. I like to have it because I know they will get a good and filling breakfast quickly while making a minimal amount of mess in the kitchen while they are at it!

Today’s post will be on how to make your own instant oatmeal and a cost comparison of making your own to buying the little packets of Quaker Instant Oatmeal.

Bulk Instant Oatmeal (the recipe can be found HERE ): Here is how you make it....

Gather together your ingredients

Take half the oats (10 cups) and run a few cups at a time through your food process or blender to make smaller

Combine them with the other 10 cups of oats and add the powdered milk, cinnamon and salt

Stir well and put in a gallon size jar

To make a serving combine ½ cup of the mix with 1 cup boiling water

Put something over the top of the bowl (I use a small plate) and let is sit for a few minutes

When it is done, stir and it is ready to serve

You can add your sweetener of choice and a little milk for a yummy, quick, hot breakfast

Now for the cost:

I came up with these numbers:

$1.33 Powdered Milk
$2.09 Quick Oats (this was the price for the non organic oats)

The cost was $3.42

I did not calculate the cost of the cinnamon and salt but I don't believe it makes a significant change in the total amount.

At $3.42 I calculated this to cost 4 cents per ounce.

Compared to buying a box of 10 instant oatmeal packets (Quaker Oats brand, regular, no flavoring or sugar added, total weight for one box was 11.8 oz) at: $3.84 per box (generic brands could be cheaper) brings the cost to 32.5 cents an ounce. Even if you could find them cheaper the cost would still be very high compared to making it yourself.

One last note of interest, the store bought instant oatmeal also has MSG added to it. It is the second ingredient after oats. The sweetened types also have sugar added, the second ingredient after oats with the MSG following in 3rd place.

Homemade is not only way less expensive but much healthier as well!

Also If you are dehydrating your fruit my kids love to add dried apricots, or peaches, or stawberries, or cherries. The list is endless!!!!

Trim the Budget: Black Bean Sloppy Joes!

Trim the Budget: Black Bean Sloppy Joes!

Here is another meal that makes a large serving, tastes great, utilizes a low cost basic food (beans), and is delicious!!

Black Bean Sloppy Joes

Usually sloppy joes are made with all hamburger. That can be a lot of expense in meat. The last time I looked at Costco hamburger was $2.79 a pound. One way to still enjoy sloppy joes and save some money is to make Black Bean Sloppy Joes. The black beans stretch the hamburger while giving you a delicious and nutritious meal! You can find the recipe here:

Make sure to get your beans cooking in the morning so all you have to do come evening is assemble the rest of the recipe. This will also give you the afternoon to make the rolls to serve the sloppy joes on.

Making your own high quality bread products is also a good way to cut costs. White bread will always be dirt cheap, but with no nutritional value and not worth the cost.. no matter how cheap. Making homemade bread is one way to ensure better quality bread products in your home for a very reasonable price.

This was a new recipe I tried out for the dinner rolls. They were delicious!! I wanted a sub sandwich type bread that was soft and would make great sandwiches or could be used for recipes like sloppy joes. I was very happy with this one!

Sub Sandwich Rolls

1½ cups water
½ cup honey
6T butter
½ cup oats
2t salt
1T yeast
2 eggs
5½ to 7 cups whole wheat flour

In a small sauce pan combine water, honey, butter and oats and heat over medium high until hot and butter has melted, do not boil. Pour this mixture into your Bosch or Kitchen Aid mixing bowl. Allow the mixture to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. When it is very warm, but not hot to the touch add the salt, yeast and eggs. Now begin adding flour. Add 5 ½ cups and then add a half cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky, but still is a soft dough. Knead 4 to 5 minutes in a Bosch or 7 to 10 in a Kitchen Aid or 12 to 15 minutes if you are doing this by hand.

Let the dough rise for one hour. Punch down and knead again for a few minutes to remove air bubbles.

Divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll each piece into an 8 inch log. Spray a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with non stick spray. Lay the bread dough pieces on the cookie sheet and cover with a towel. Let rise until double in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

To use for the Black Bean Sloppy Joe recipe I cut the rolls in half (lengthwise) and then sliced them in center (like you would if you were going to make a sandwich out of them). You can toast the bread first before topping with the sloppy joe mix. Serve the sloppy joes over the bread.


This meal is filling! It is big enough to easily serve 8 to 10 people. So if your family is smaller, you can freeze half of this for another night.

I feed 5 people and I will have left overs. I will serve the last of the sloppy joes to the family that is home today for lunch This meal gave me a lot of mileage for my money!

Now for the budget cost breakdown.. I don’t calculate the costs of things like salt or a ½ of an onion.

Here is what I figured for last night’s meal:

Black Bean Sloppy Joes:
Hamburger: $2.79
Black Beans: .95
Ketchup: $1.08
6oz tomato paste: .90

Approx. cost: $5.72 or rounded up to $6.00

Dinner Rolls:
Honey: .91
Whole Wheat (I grind my own wheat so this is the cost of the actual wheat berries, not the cost of flour): .80
Oats: .05
Butter: .33
Eggs: .25

Approx. cost of rolls: $2.34 or rounded to $2.50

In the end, $8.50 fed my family a delicious, nutritious dinner plus I have leftovers. If I had wanted to stretch this meal out for two full dinner meals for my family I could have added another cup or two of cooked beans and a little of the bean broth to give it the right consistency. That would have increased the cost by just a few cents, and I may do that the next time I make this meal.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pumpkin and other squashes

This is so cool and it works so awesome. I did some big banana squash that Paul Robinson gave us and and it is so great! Try it!

dehydrating potatoes

Great video on dehydrating potatoes!!!!!!!!!!

So handy!


Recently I have been on a dehydrating kick. This is a wonderful thing to do especially in the winter time when it is cold outside and you aren't harvesting other things. I found a AWESOME website on how to dehydrate almost anything!!!!!!!!!!!!I will be sharing many of these things with you. Also many of her tips.
If you want to check out her site she has lots of how to videos that are great!

Foods You Just Throw on the Dehydrator

Collard Greens
Mushrooms (If wet or soaked in water before dehydrating mushrooms will turn dark in color. They are OK to eat this way)
All herbs

Fruit Roll-ups


Never use sugar in fruit rollups, the sugar will crystallize over time. Instead use honey or corn syrup.

When using zip bags to dry your fruit rollups make sure any print on the bag is facing away from the rollup. Otherwise, it will pull the print up when the rollup when removed.

I like to use duct tape when taping down the zip bag because it does not fall off in the dehydrator and it is easy to remove from the trays.

Shrink wrap makes a great package for the rollups when sealed using your sealer.

Also, the wax inserts in cereal boxes make a great package for fruit rollups.

Cooking the fruit in a sauce pan before dehydrating makes a translucent roll-up whereas uncooked makes a more firm and solid color roll-up.


Fruit Skins

When peeling your oranges, mangos, papayas, apples, peaches, pears, and lemons place the skins on the tray with the skin side facing DOWN and dehydrate. After dehydrating most skins can be ground and put in homemade herbal teas, sauces, cookies, cakes, and breads.

Glass Jars

I use my glass jars for short term storage. When they become empty I refill them with my items that have been vacuum packed, Mylar bagged, or oxygen packed. Don’t get me wrong , your food will last for a year and longer in the jars, but the issue is the light breaking down the food. If you place your jars in a dark area then your food will last virtually forever, so your biggest concern is light exposure over a long period of time. Years ago jar companies made a blue jar for canning to detour light. You can still find the blue jars (I have some) if you go to attic or garage sales. Three years ago you couldn’t even give them away (as with clear Masson/ Ball jars) but today you have to fight to get them. I would not recommend these old jars for canning due to safety reasons, but they are great for long term storage of dried foods.

How Long Can You Store Dehydrated Foods?

When stored properly and kept in a cool dry place your foods can last up to 30 years depending on the item.
I would recommend going to and clicking on their dehydrated shelf life chart.

Lemon Juice

Whenever food is processed in any way nutrients are lost. For this reason it is important that you spray lemon juice on your carrots, apples, bananas, pears, strawberries, papaya or any low acid item before dehydrating in order to add extra vitamin C. This process will also help to retain the natural beautiful colors of your fruits and vegetables.

I spray lemon juice directly on the items instead of soaking them in a bowl. If you soak your bananas in the juice they will become soggy. Also, soaking food takes away important vitamins and minerals. If you put honey in the lemon juice, like some people suggest, I find that the bananas become sticky and soggy and after dehydrating they will stick together, which is not good. Also, when soaking in lemon juice there is a lot of waste when you toss the leftover juice down the sink. Spraying or misting with concentrated lemon juice is the best technique.

Things you do not want to spray with your lemon juice are green leafy produce like spinach or broccoli because it will brown or burn the items.

Pineapple juice is also a possible vitamin C rich liquid you may spray onto your foods before dehydrating. However, I recommend concentrated lemon juice because pineapple juice tends to make your dehydrated items more on the sticky side due to the excess sugars.

Foods that should be sprayed with concentrated lemon/pineapple juice:
(All your low acid fruits. This maintains color and adds a little extra vitamin C)



Let's Talk About Drying Time

It is very difficult to give an exact time frame for dehydrating foods because of all the variables. Humidity outside and in the home, thickness and type of cut, how loaded the trays are, and even different brands of produce play a big part in dehydration time. Also the type of dehydrator you use plays a large role. If the fan is on the top or bottom of your dehydrator it will take longer for the food to dry because the circulation of air flow is disrupted by the other trays. If the fan is in the back of the dehydrator (where it should be) your food will dry faster and more evenly.

What I can tell you is this:
You never want to increase the temperature to dry faster this will cause “case hardening”. This is when the outside of the food hardens and moisture is trapped on the inside and is unable to dry because it is incased in a hard shell. This will cause your food to sour and have to be tossed. Your best bet is long time and low temp. Never try to speed things up by increasing the temp in order to finish at a certain time. Regardless if I am doing a fruit or vegetable I never go over 125°F.

An average drying time list
8-15 hours All fresh vegetables including peppers
8-10 hours Frozen vegetables (remember to place on the tray while frozen )
8-10 hours Mushrooms and onions (sliced and chopped)
12-15 hours Sweet and white potatoes (thin sliced, chopped)
8-10 hours Fruits, very thinly sliced
12-15 hours Fruits ¼ inch slice
15 hours plus Fruit rollups (depending on how much corn syrup and honey used)
15-20 hours Grapes
18-20 hours Blueberries
Up to 2 days Whole prunes (remove pits)
12-15 hours Peaches, plums, pears, apples, nectarines, rhubarb

The most important part is not so much the length of time in the dehydrator, but the percentage of remaining moisture left. For long term storage you want to stay at 95% and above. Testing for dryness will be your best barometer. Your food should easily snap and should not be sticking together.

After, dehydrating your food place it in a zip-lock bag for a few days before storing away in your vacuum bags. This will give you a chance to see that your food has fully dehydrated. If your food appears limp you can put it back in the dehydrator again for a few more hours.

Some Basics Before You Start

Wash everything down with an anti-bacterial cleanser of your choice. Just like when canning foods, it is important to practice good hygiene while dehydrating as well. This ensures a good end product with a longer shelf life.

Wear latex or vinyl gloves!

There are natural oils and moistures in your hands which will contaminate your foods by reintroducing moisture. The whole idea to dehydrating foods is to maintain a good quality food with a long shelf life. Wearing protective gloves helps you obtain these goals.

Warm up your dehydrator

Air circulation helps eliminate the growth of contaminates, therefore it is best to start the dehydrator and get the air moving before putting your food in.

TIP: It is so much easier to cut your dehydrated foods with kitchen scissors instead of using a knife. Some of the dehydrated foods you can simply crumble in your hands.

The Cannery

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) has canneries that you can go to and purchase Mylar bags and oxygen packs for very little money. You can also purchase wheat, oats, corn meal, beans and other dried foods and have it placed in #10 cans. The LDS members are very kind, willing to help, and very knowledgeable in food storage. You do not have to be a member to go to some of the canneries; however the canneries are non-profit and therefore run through tithing in the church. For this reason some locations require that you be a member to purchase from them. I recommend you call your local cannery and ask their policy prior to visiting. By going there you can build your pantry fast and for very little money. The Cannery is a smart tool in helping you build your pantry so please take advantage of it. If you are interested e-mail me the town or city you live in and I will try to find one in your area.

Tomato Paste and Tomato Sauce Roll-Ups

There several ways you can do tomato paste.

1) You can puree tomatoes that have been canned
2) You can use whole tomatoes and scald off the skin then puree
3) You can puree whole tomatoes with the skins on
4) You can pre-cook your puree as you would with fruit roll-ups or do it raw

A trick you can use to help remove water from the tomatoes is to put them in a clear gravy separator and place them in the refrigerator over night. The next day pour off the water that separated from the tomatoes. Your paste is now thicker and easier to make into a roll-up.

Tricky Fruit Tips

Place the blueberries in a pot of boiling water for about one minute. The information I received over the years said to place them on a paper towel and then on the dehydrator tray. Lately, I have been placing my dehydrator tray across the sink like a strainer and pouring the blanched blueberries over the top of the tray. The less you have to move them around the better. I found this makes a big difference and the berries don’t mush. I suggest adding cold water to the pot before pouring it over the dehydrator tray. After placing them on the tray I prick them one by one with a toothpick to let the air out. My Blueberries are done in about 18 hours. If you remove the tray and some blueberries are still large and soft or can be easily mashed in your fingers they are not fully dehydrated. Puncture another hole in them and place in the dehydrator longer.

Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting your bananas, if you use a regular knife the finished product may be brown in color (These are still fine to eat, just aren‘t and appealing). Use concentrated lemon and lightly spray the bananas as soon as they are cut. Handle your fruit as little as possible. Test the banana to see if it is done by removing one slice and letting it cool for 5-10 minutes. The slice should be crisp and not sticky. Place them into a zip-lock bag for 2-3 days before packing. After a day, shake the plastic bag; if they are sticking together place them back in the dehydrator for 3 more hours. If the bananas are over ripe to begin with they may be on the chewy side after dehydrating. If the banana is somewhat green to begin it may turn a little pink in color after dehydrating, not to worry they are still good to eat. I have never had my sliced bananas encounter case hardening when the temp. was higher. Even so, I still keep my temp. at 125°F.

Try to keep your raspberries as dry as possible. Rinse, but do not soak, in water prior to dehydrating and wash minutes before dehydrating.

Papayas and Pineapple
Papayas and pineapple
should both be steams prior to dehydrating if you are going to use them un Jell-O. Also I believe pineapple is better if steamed prior to dehydrating if you plan to use it in an upside down cake, breads, cookies, smoothies and so on. The only time I do not steam my pineapple before dehydrating is when I plan to grind it up in powdered form for teas and sauces. You can eat steamed or unsteamed dehydrated pineapple and papaya for a great on-the-go snack.

When To Salt

Remember to add salt AFTER everything is cooked. Salt slows down the re-hydrating process.

Where NOT To Store Your Food

You should never store your food on a concrete floor. Place it on a skid or elevate it off the floor so it is not directly on the concrete. Never place your stored food where the sun is beating down on it, by a furnace, or anywhere really hot.


Winter is great because the furnace is always going and it’s dry in your house. The down side is your garden is 3 feet under snow. The upside to winter is you can load up an all the produce that grocery stores put on sale to lure you in. How many people can load up on 10 lbs of carrots, bananas, etc.?
YOU CAN, because YOU have a dehydrator!

Your Enemies in Long-Term Storage

Water / moisture
Rodents and bugs

Blanching and Skin Scalding (which foods?)

Blanching is when you place your food in boiling water for about one minute prior to dehydrating.

Why do you have to steam or blanch some items and not others?
Skin scalding occurs during the blanching process. Skin scalding is done to either soften the skin of a fruit or vegetable you want to dehydrate, or to soften the skin to allow for its removal. While blanching a grape, for example, you must blanch it prior to dehydrating in order to ‘skin scald’ or soften the skin. While blanching a tomato or peach, however, you will find the skins fall right off. By doing this it is possible to dehydrate your food without any unwanted skin or peach fuzz.

Food that should be blanched or skin scalded

Summer Squash

Canning Dried Beans and soups

This time of year when we aren't canning our harvest is still a time you can be working on your food storage. These ideas are also frugal and helpful on your budget and time saving for those nights when you just weren't prepared!
I love being able to grab a quart of beans off my shelf to use instead of soaking and cooking them each time.
I got these directions off a wonderful canning site:

How to Make Homemade Canned Dried Beans and Peas (from Lima Beans, Snap Beans, Pole Beans, Runner Beans, Cowpeas, Chickpeas, Peas, etc.)

Kidney, navy and other varieties of dried beans are good candidates for canning or storage. Of course, you can store the dried, too, but some people prefer them canned. In your own home garden, leave the beans on the vine to mature. They will dry naturally.

In canning the dried beans, there is a key tip: Water plays an important part in the final quality of canned beans. The harder the water used for soaking and blanching, the harder and firmer the finished beans. Also, excessive alkalinity will cause the beans to disintegrate somewhat, becoming soft and mushy. However, this will not be seen until after canning them. there's not much you can do about this, but try to avoid "softened" water.

The only other trick is, you really do need a pressure canner. Every university food science department and the government will tell you that it just is not safe to use the water bath bath method; it takes the higher temperatures of the pressure canner to kill the botulism bacteria.

BUT, with a pressure canner it's easy. And although a pressure canner costs $100 to $200 (see this page for pressure canners models, makes and prices), they last a lifetime, and your children and grandchildren may be using it

Directions for Making Canned Dried Beans and Peas

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Dried Beans or Peas (see step 1)
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at mall kitchen stores and local "big box" stores, but it's usually cheaper online from our affiliates)
  • At least 1 large pot
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • Ball jars (Publix, Kroger, other grocery stores and some "big box" stores carry them - about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)
  • Salt (optional - I don't use any)
  • 1 Pressure Canner (a large pressure pot with a lifting rack to sterilize the jars after filling (about $75 to $200 at mall kitchen stores and "big box" stores, but it is cheaper online; see this page for more information). For low acid foods (most vegetables, you can't use an open water bath canner, it has to be a pressure canner to get the high temperatures to kill the bacteria. If you plan on canning every year, they're worth the investment.

Recipe and Directions

Step 1 - Selecting the dried beans or peas

The most important step! You need dried beans that are FRESH - not old to begin with! Remove and discard any soft, diseased or spotted beans.

How many dried beans or peas and where to get them

You can grow your own, pick your own, or buy them at the grocery store. About 14 pounds of beans makes 7 quart jars; or 9 pounds is needed per 9 pints. A bushel, which produces anywhere from 13 to 20 quarts, weighs 30 pounds. That works out to an average of 2 pounds of beans per finished quart jar.

Step 2 - Prepare the jars and pressure canner

Wash the jars and lids

This is a good time to get the jars ready! The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sterilize" cycle. Otherwise put the jars in boiling water for 10 minutes. I just put the lids in a small pot of almost boiling water for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" (available from target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) to pull them out.

Get a large pot of water boiling

We will use this water to pour over the beans and fill each jar with liquid, after we've packed them full of beans. I use the largest pot I have, so that there is plenty of clean, boiling water ready when I need it.

Get the pressure canner heating up

Rinse out your pressure canner, put the rack plate in the bottom, and fill it to a depth of 4 inches with hot tap water. (of course, follow the instruction that came with the canner, if they are different). Put it on the stove over low heat, with the lid OFF of it, just to get it heating up for later on.

Step 3 -Wash the dried beans or peas!

I'm sure you can figure out how to rinse the dried beans or peas in plain cold or lukewarm water.

Step 4 - Soak to Rehydrate the beans

You can use one of the following methods:

  • Method 1. Place washed dried beans or peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain and discard the water.
  • Method 2. To quickly hydrate beans, you may cover washed beans with boiling water in a saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and drain. Discard the water.

Step 5 - Heat/cook the beans

Cover beans soaked by either method with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt per pint or teaspoon per quart to the jar, if desired. Save the water you cook them in!

Step 6 - Packing the beans in the canning jars

Fill jars with beans or peas . Pack the jars evenly, but be sure to leave 1 inch of space at the TOP of the jar.

Step 8 - Pour boiling water into each packed jar

Fill the space around the beans to 1 inch from the top of the jar with the water you cooked the beans in. That 1 inch space is called "headspace" and is needed for expansion during heading. Use a ladle or pyrex measuring cup to carefully fill each packed jar with water from pot of boiling water. The beans should be covered and there should still be 1 inch of airspace left in the top of each jar. Be careful not to burn yourself, (or anyone else - children should be kept back during this step!)

Step 9 - Put the lids and rings on

Put the lids on each jar and seal them by putting a ring on and screwing it down snugly (but not with all your might, just "snug").

Step 10 - Put the jars in the canner and the lid on the canner (but still vented)

Using the jar tongs, put the jars on the rack in the canner. By now the water level has probably boiled down to 3 inches. If it is lower than that, add more hot tap water to the canner. When all the jars that the canner will hold are in, put on the lid and twist it into place, but leave the weight off (or valve open, if you have that type of pressure canner).

Step 11 - Let the canner vent steam for 10 minutes

Put the heat on high and let the steam escape through the vent for 10 minutes to purge the airspace inside the canner.

Step 12 - Put the weight on and let the pressure build

After 10 minutes of venting, put the weight on and close any openings to allow the pressure to build to 11 to 13 pounds in a dial-type gauge canner - shown in the photos (or at 10 to 15 pounds pressure in a weighted gauge canner.

Step 13 - Process for the required time

Once the gauge hits 11 pounds (or 10 pounds in a weighted gauge type), start your timer going - for 75 minutes for pint jars and quarts for 90 minutes. Adjust the heat, as needed, to maintain 10 pounds of pressure.

Pressure required depends on the altitude where canning is being done. Note: the chart below will help you determine the right processing time and pressure, if you are above sea level.

It is important to learn how to operate your pressure canner by reading the owner's manual that came with your particular canner. If you can not find your owner's manual, you can obtain find one online: Here is where to find some common manufacturer's manuals:

or by contacting the company that made your canner. Give the model number to the manufacturer, and they will send you the right manual. More notes on pressure canners from Colorado State University.

Recommended process time for Dried Beans in a dial-gauge pressure canner.

Minimum Canner Pressure (PSI) at Various Altitudes
Jar Size Process Time 0 - 2,000 ft 2,001 - 4,000 ft 4,001 - 6,000 ft 6,001 - 8,000 ft
Pints 75 min 11 lb 12 lb 13 lb 14 lb
Quarts 90 11 lb 12 13 14

Step 14 - Turn off the heat and let it cool down

After 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quart jars, turn off the heat and let the canner cool down. After the pressure drops to zero (usually, you can tell but the "click" sound of the safety release vents opening, as well as but the gauge. Wait 3 more minutes, then open the vent or remove the weight and allow the steam to escape.

Step 15 - Remove the jars

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool on a wooden cutting board or a towel, without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight), here they won't be bumped. You can then remove the rings if you like. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok. You're done!

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs
    helpful to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
    - to remove lids from the pot
    of hot water
  3. Lid
    - disposable - you may only
    use them once
  4. Ring
    - holds the lids on the jar until after
    the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
    - to fill the jars

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it safe to can dried beans or peas in a traditional water bath? If so how long do you do process them?

A. The answer, quite simply is no. Quoting from the Ohio State University Extension's Fact Sheet:

"Pressure canning is the only safe method for home canning vegetables. Clostridium botulinum is the bacterium that causes botulism food poisoning in low-acid foods, such as vegetables. The bacterial spores are destroyed only when the vegetables are processed in a pressure canner at 240 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for the correct amount of time.

Clostridium botulinum is the bacterium commonly found in vegetables and meats. It is harmless until it finds itself in a moist, low-acid, oxygen-free environment or a partial vacuum. Under these conditions, the bacterium can grow and produce toxins dangerous to people and animals.

Do not process (low acid) vegetables using the boiling water bath because the botulinum bacteria can survive that method.

And Clemson University provides these questions and answers:
Can fruits and vegetables be canned without heating if aspirin is used? No. Aspirin should not be used in canning. It cannot be relied on to prevent spoilage or to give satisfactory products. Adequate heat treatment is the only safe procedure.

Is it safe to can dried beans or peas in a boiling water bath if vinegar is used? No. Recommended processing methods must be used to assure safety. Recommended processing times cannot be shortened if vinegar is used in canning fresh vegetables. (This does not refer to pickled vegetables.)

Salt and sugar are not preservatives for vegetables: they are added to stabilize and improve flavor, but will not prevent spoilage.

Salicylic acid is also NOT a preservative. The University of Illinois reports:

Using Aspirin for Canning

Several years ago, a recipe circulated using aspirin to acidify tomatoes and dried beans or peas for canning. Aspirin is not recommended for canning. While it contains salicylic acid, it does not sufficiently acidify tomatoes or dried beans or peas for safe hot water bath canning. dried beans or peas are low acid foods and may only be processed safely in a pressure canner. Lemon juice or vinegar is recommended to acidify tomato products for safe water bath processing.

Think of it like smoking. We all know someone who smoke their entire life and lived to be 90. But the cemeteries are filled with the vast majority who didn't. You'll hear people say "my grandmother did it that way for 20 years". But of course, the people who died from food poisoning aren't around and often didn't have descendents to tell their tale...

Pressure canners!

If you want to can low-acid foods such as red meats, sea food, poultry, milk, and all fresh vegetables with the exception of most tomatoes, you will need a pressure canner. These foods fit into the low acid group since they have an acidity, or pH level, of 4.6 or greater. The temperature which must be reached and maintained (for a specified amount of time) to kill the bacteria is 240 F. Pressure canning is the only canning method recommended safe by the U.S.D.A. for low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, and fish. Ordinary water bath canners can only reach 212 F and can not to kill the types of bacteria that will grow in low acid foods. This temperature can be reached only by creating steam under pressure as achieved in quality pressure canners.

There are several manufacturers of pressure canners. The two leading ones are Presto and All American (Wisconsin Aluminum). They are more expensive than water bath canners, but extremely well built - I bought mine in 1988 and it still looks and works like new!