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How to Can Green Beans

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on May 31, 2022

Green beans are easy to grow in home gardens, good for you, and enjoyed year-round. Canning this popular vegetable lets you preserve its fresh-picked taste long after it has disappeared from your garden. Because green beans are a low-acid vegetable, it's especially important to follow safe canning procedures to avoid possible food poisoning. You can prevent foodborne botulism by following these canning tips on how to can green beans safely. 

What Supplies Do You Need for Pressure Canning?

Pressure canning is the only safe method of canning low-acid foods, like green beans and most other vegetables. To get started, you'll need to have some supplies on hand, including: 

Pressure canner. Pressure canners are heavy pots with tight-fitting lids that prevent steam from escaping and a rack to prevent jars from touching the bottom of the pan. They come with either a weight or a dial gauge, a steam vent, and a safety valve. 

Canning jars and lids. Mason-type jars designed for canning are the best type of jars to use for canning. They have the strength to withstand high temperatures. Jars and bands can be reused indefinitely, as long as they don't show any signs of damage or rust, but lids should only be used once. You should not use commercial jars like the ones spaghetti sauce comes in for home canning. 

Canning utensils. You'll need utensils like jar lifters for lifting jars out of hot water. A big mouth funnel will help you fill the jars easily. You can use a plastic knife to get bubbles out of your jars. A lid wand with a magnet is good for lifting lids from hot water if they've been preheated. 

Basic kitchen supplies. You probably have many of the basic kitchen supplies you need, like a timer, knives, a cutting board, pots, a slotted spoon, a strainer, and clothes for cleaning. 

Which Green Beans Are Good for Canning?

You can plant pole and bush beans, and both are good for canning. Green beans aren't just green anymore, either. They come in yellow and purple varieties as well. 

Bush beans. Bush bean varieties that are good for canning include: 

  • Blue Lake
  • Greencrop
  • Gold Crop
  • Kinghorn Wax
  • Royal Burgundy
  • Slenderette
  • Strike
  • Tendercrop

Pole beans. Pole bean varieties that are good for canning include: 

  • Blue Lake types
  • Kentucky Wonder
  • Romano

How Do You Choose and Prepare Green Beans for Canning?

For a canner load of 7 quarts, you'll need an average of 14 pounds of beans. For a canner load of 9 pints, you'll need an average of 9 pounds of beans. Remove and discard any diseased or rusty pods. Choose freshly harvested beans with tender, young pods. 

Pod diameter is a better way to judge bean quality than pod length. You should hear a crisp, audible snap when you break the bean. Beans that are too old will be stringy and tough. Beans that are too young will wilt quickly after harvesting. Wash your beans in cold water and trim the ends. You can cut them into segments of 1 to 4 inches or leave them whole. 

You can prepare your green beans for pressure canning using the hot pack or raw pack method. 

Hot pack. In hot packing, you simmer the green beans before you can them. Put the beans in a pan and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Loosely fill the jars with green beans, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar, if desired. Cover the beans with the cooking water, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Put lids and bands on the jars. 

Raw pack. When you raw pack, you don't cook the beans before canning. Fill clean jars tightly with beans, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Add 1 teaspoon of salt per quart jar, if desired. Cover beans with boiling water, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Put lids and bands on the jars. 

Pressure Canner Settings for Processing Green Beans

The pressure you need to use to can green beans depends on your altitude. You'll need more pressure at higher altitudes to achieve safe temperatures. 

Dial-gauge pressure canner. Process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes at the following pressures (PSI):

  • Altitude: 0 to 2,000 feet: 11 pounds
  • Altitude: 2,001 to 4,000 feet: 12 pounds
  • Altitude 4,001 to 6,000 feet: 13 pounds
  • Altitude: 6,001 to 8,000 feet: 14 pounds
  • Altitude: 8,001 to 10,000 feet: 14 pounds

Weighted-gauge pressure canner. Process pint jars for 20 minutes and quart jars for 25 minutes at the following pressures (PSI):

  • Altitude: 0 to 1,000 feet: 10 pounds
  • Altitude: Above 1,000 feet: 15 pounds

Is Canning Safe?

If you follow tested and proven recipes from trustworthy sources, home canning is safe. But there is a serious risk of developing botulism from home-canned foods, particularly those that are low in acid. Botulism is the most deadly toxin known, and over 90% of foodborne cases of botulism are caused by eating improperly home-canned foods.

The bacteria that cause botulism, Clostridium botulinum, live in the soil and are present on the surface of most fresh foods. They're normally harmless because they can't grow in air. But the absence of air and acid provides the perfect environment for Clostridium botulinum spores to grow. You have to heat up your canned food to a high temperature to kill the spores.

Water bath canning and oven canning can't achieve the high temperatures necessary to kill Clostridium botulinum spores, so you have to use a pressure canner when you can low-acid foods like green beans. In addition to using a pressure canner, take the following steps to reduce the risk of botulism: 

  • Vent your pressure canner for 10 minutes to remove air before you add your jars to it.
  • Wash your vegetables thoroughly and follow directions for preparing them for canning. 
  • Only use ingredients that are listed in a recipe. 
  • Let your canner depressurize and cool on its own. 
  • If your canner pressure drops, bring it back up and restart the timer. 

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Colorado State University Extension: "Using the Right Equipment."

National Center for Home Food Preservation: "Beans, Snap and Italian - Pieces, Green and Wax," "Burning Issue: Green Beans and Botulism."

South Dakota State University Extension: "Canned Green Beans."

University of Minnesota Extension: "Botulism: take care when canning low-acid foods."

Utah State University: "How to Preserve Pole and Bush Beans."

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