My beans are doing great this year. I have sold many of the filet variety at the Camdenton Farmer's Market, and now the canners on coming on strong. I plant the variety called "Contender" for canning. It is a very quick grower, stringless, and very prolific, meaning we have lots of beans. From the time you put the seed in the ground, you will have a crop of beans in a little over 50 days. I usually put out two beds that are 4 X 16 feet and we get more than we can possibly eat, so I have plenty to share with the rest of the family.
If I had it to do over, I would have made the beds only 3 feet wide. At 4 feet they are quite a stretch to reach the beans in the middle. Thankfully, we have hoop supports every 4 feet, so I can use those to balance with while I reach for the beans. If you are putting in beds I would highly recommend only going with 3 foot width, or do as I did with the hoops.
Your beans are ready to pick when they are about 7 inches long. You should just start to see the bean shape forming in the bean. If you wait too long, they will be tough and have too large of beans inside. These are just right. The one on the right is pushing the limit that I like.
I like to get comfortable when snapping beans. Make sure that you have everything that you need within reach so you don't have to get up for a bit. Here I have my bowl of beans to snap, a clean bowl to put the snapped beans in, and a small bowl for the ends or any bad ones that I come across.
As I said, make sure that you have everything within reach while you are snapping beans.
Both ends should be removed and then I usally snap into 3 pieces. Notice how "meaty" these beans are.
This session of picking yielded me with two five gallon buckets of beans, which when snapped equalled above. Make sure that you keep your beans cool if you need to store them before canning. We keep ours in our walkin cooler if necessary.
I am canning according to the "raw pack" method. This means you fill the jars as full as you can with uncooked beans. I think they are fresher after canning with this method. Add a 1/2 tsp of salt to each jar and then fill to the rim with boiling water. Also, your jars should be clean and hot. If not they will break when you add them to the pressure cooker. Trust me. I know from experience.
Make sure that you remove all air bubbles, by working your plastic spatula around the edges of each jar. Wipe the rim with a clean towel, apply a hot clean lid and band and you are ready to process.
I process at 15 pounds of pressure. This is achieved by assuring that I have the 15 down on the spout.
Here you can see that the pressure has built and soon you will hear the sweet sound of pressure being released by the jiggling of the pressure weight. Process pints for 20 minutes and quarts for 25 minutes. Start timing when the jiggling starts and adjust your heat so that you get at least 4 "jiggles" per minute.
The finished product. From the two buckets, I processed 19 pints, and 14 quarts with enough left over for a meal for us. Not a bad days haul! Let the jars rest undisturbed for 24 hours and then check the seal. The center should be pulled down and a distinct "full" sound when you tap the lid. If your jar does not seal, either reprocess or put in the refrigerator and eat within a few days. Happy Canning!