Canning dried beans at home makes them ready to use for fast weeknight dinners and it means you can skip the BPA-lined cans from the supermarket.
New to pressure canning? Be sure to read this getting started guide!
When it comes to handy pantry staples to keep on hand, ready-to-use beans can’t be beat. They can be added to a salad for a burst of protein, blended up into homemade hummus, or stirred into a pot of chili.
Canning Dried Beans
Beans are an incredibly frugal source of protein, especially when the beans are purchased dry and in bulk. The trouble is, cooking beans for a meal requires a good amount of forethought. You can’t just add them to a recipe in this state.
Canned beans, on the other hand are easy to use. Making your own canned beans requires a few hours of time, but that time will net a pantry full of your favorite ready-to-use legumes. What kind of beans do you use the most of at your place? That’s what you should focus on.
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Benefits of Canning Dry Beans
- Ready-to-use ingredients in the pantry for quick meals.
- Super budget friendly way to use beans.
- Great, inexpensive source of vegetarian protein.
- Tenderized tough old beans that have been in your food storage.
- Some store-bought canned beans have BPA in the can lining.
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Beans – This method of canning beans means you can choose your favorite. Kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, and garbanzo beans are all good options. Really, the only legume that you shouldn’t can is lentils. There is no safe, approved method for canning them, not to mention that they cook much faster than regular beans and would end up a mushy mess with the long canning process.
Salt – This is added purely for flavoring. Choose a non-iodized salt. If you’re required to stick to a low-sodium diet, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave this ingredient out. That’s one of the benefits of canning beans at home – you can make them to suit you.
This recipe calls for 3 pounds of dry beans and will fill 9 pint-size jars. If you like to make the most of your time and your canner is large enough, you can double the recipe and double stack the jars. You just need a wire rack to put between the layers. Stack the second layer offset from the first to allow the steam to circulate.
You could also use quart jars if that makes the most sense for your family. Most pressure canners will hold 7 quart jars. You’ll need about 4 pounds of beans to make seven quart jars.
A Quick Look at the Process
This method for canning beans requires a little planning ahead, but it’s not difficult.
- Soak beans in a large stock pot overnight, covering the beans with 3” to 4” of water.
- Drain the beans and return to the stock pot with fresh water. Cook the beans at a boil for 30 minutes.
- Prepare the pressure canner for canning while the beans are cooking
- Drain the partially cooked beans and fill canning jars with hot, pre-cooked beans. Pour fresh boiling water over the beans in the jars and twist on the canning lids.
- Transfer the prepared jars to the pressure canner and process. Low-acid foods like beans must be pressure canned for safety.
- Check seals and store in a cool dry place.
Pre-Soaking and Cooking
It is necessary to presoak and partially cook the beans before canning them. This allows the beans to absorb water and expand outside the confines of the jar. Too much expansion in the canning jars can result in breakage.
Another reason to presoak has to do with the old adage about beans being the musical fruit. Soaking the beans seems to help people avoid the gassiness that can be associated with eating beans.
Canning dry beans without soaking is possible if you’ve forgotten to do it ahead of time. You can do an overnight presoak or a quick soak. Three pounds of dry beans will fit in an 8-quart stock pot.
Overnight soak: Measure beans into a large stock pot and cover with 3” to 4” of water. Let sit for 12-18 hours or overnight. The dry beans will absorb a good portion of that water and expand quite a lot. Drain and discard the soaking water, then proceed with the pre-cooking.
Quick soak: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add beans. Return to a boil, cook for 2 minutes, and turn off the heat. Let the beans sit in the hot water for an hour, drain and discard the soaking water, then proceed with the pre-cooking.
Wait, I have to cook the beans, too?
Drain the soaked beans and add them to a large pot with fresh water. Bring to a boil and boil for 30 minutes.
Be aware that cooking beans can lead to foaming. If the lid is on the pot, this will result in an overflow. I remove the lid from the cooking pot as it nears boiling stage for this reason. Scoop foam from the top of the liquid and discard.
While the beans are cooking, you should prepare the canner and get your jars ready.
A Quick Look at Pressure Canning
Let’s talk about how to process beans for canning. They must, must be pressure canned. This is non-negotiable. Because beans are a low-acid food, the only safe way to can them is in a pressure canner.
A pressure canner allows the inside of the food to reach a sufficient level of heat in order to kill any potential botulism spores (240°F). A water bath canner simply cannot achieve that heat — boiling water tops out at 212°F, which will not kill botulism spores.
If you’ve never pressure canned before and you’re a little hesitant, I hear you. It took me years before I decided it was a skill I really needed. (The thing that did it for me? Being able to make and can my own chicken broth for the pantry.)
Modern day pressure canners are perfectly safe if used according to manufacturer’s directions. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular unit, because there are some variables between brands. (I use an All-American Pressure Canner and I love it.)
Note that a pressure canner is not the same thing as a pressure cooker. Read here to find out why canning in an Instant Pot isn’t safe.
🍅 Safety First!
Canning is an excellent way to preserve food for the pantry, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind. The recipes on this site have been made following safe canning procedures by a certified Master Food Preserver.
- Know the difference between water bath canning and pressure canning. Low acid items must be pressure canned for safety.
- Altering ingredients may change the recipe’s pH, posing a safety issue. I highly recommend investing in pH paper to test your products for acidity level when canning. Note: For safe water bath canning, the Hawaii Master Food Preservers suggest a pH of 4.2 or lower in the tropics. In other regions, the recommended pH is 4.6 or lower.
- Use the proper jars and lids. Never reuse lids, with the exception of the Tattler or Harvest Right hard plastic lids that are intended for such a purpose.
- For more on canning equipment, please go here.
Canning Dried Beans
- Quart jar
- Pint jar
Place a wire or metal canning rack in the bottom of the canner to prevent the jars from sitting directly on the bottom. Add water, and go ahead and put the empty canning jars in the canner. You’ll need to let some of the water into the jars so they don’t float.
Unlike water bath canning, with pressure canning you’ll only put 2” to 3” of water in the bottom of the canner. The jars do not need to be submerged.
Bring the water in the pot to a low simmer. This prepares the canner, but also warms the jars up, which helps prevent breakage from temperature shock.
About 5 minutes before the beans are done, use a jar lifter to drain the empty jars and transfer them to a towel-covered countertop.
Drain the pre-cooked beans and fill each jar to within 1-1/2” of the top. Pour fresh hot water or the cooking water over the beans to leave a 1-inch headspace. (I prefer to use fresh hot water from an electric kettle; I feel that this helps to remove even more of the enzymes that cause gas.) But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using the cooking liquid.
Wipe the rims of filled jars to remove any residue. Tighten on the canning lids and rings and transfer the jars to the canner. Be sure to maintain the minimum canner load of two quart jars or four pint jars.
Secure the lid in place and turn up the heat. Watch for the steam escaping the vent. When it begins to flow in a steady stream, place the weighted gauge on it to stop the flow of steam, or close the petcock.
Bring canner up to pressure and diligently watch to keep it close to the required pressure. You will need to adjust the heat under the canner to get it just right. Start timing when the canner reaches the proper pressure.
Do not let the pressure drop below the recommended number or you’ll need to return the canner to the correct pressure and start timing all over again. (It’s okay if the pressure is slightly higher than called for.)
When process time is up, turn off the heat and let the canner cool down naturally. The dial gauge (if you have one) should read zero, otherwise allow the canner to cool for an hour or so or until it reaches room temperature.
Remove the lid from the canner, lift the jars onto a towel covered surface, and allow them to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
Check seals. The lids should be solid and pulled down tight. (If they flex and pop, the jar didn’t seal; put unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use those first).
Remove rings and wash the outsides of jars. Label and store in a cool place. (Store jars without the rings.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you can dry beans without soaking?
There are a lot of old-timey recommendations for doing this, but it is not considered a safe canning practice. Since beans expand when cooked, you’re at risk of breaking the jars. Not to mention, soaking the beans before canning helps to remove phytates. Follow the instructions here for a safe canning recipe.
Do beans need to be cooked before canning?
Yes. I know it seems like an extra step, but cooking the beans is necessary before you can them.
Can you can beans without a pressure canner?
No, you cannot. Beans are a low-acid food and may be contaminated with botulism spores. Those spores can thrive in anaerobic conditions (say, inside a canning jar). Pressure canning heats the beans to more than 240°F, which is sufficient to kill those spores. Water bath canning only heats canned goods to 212°F.
What if the liquid level has dropped in the jars after processing?
This is totally normal. The beans – even if they’ve been precooked – will absorb some of the liquid in the jar.
Can I use this recipe to make refried beans?
Using Homemade Canned Beans
Use these jars of beans just as you would canned beans from the grocery store. Since this recipe can be made with a variety of beans, you can be ready for just about any bean recipe you come across. Here are a few to get you started!
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- 3 pounds dried beans
- 4-1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
- Water for soaking, cooking, and filling jars
Prepare for Canning
- Wash the jars you'll use, making sure each is clean and free of nicks in the rim, which could impede sealing.
- Wash the lids and rings in hot soapy water. (If you're using non-Ball brand lids, prepare as suggested by manufacturer.)
- Place empty jars in a canning pot or large stock pot with enough water to cover by an inch or two, cover pot, and set on high heat when you begin cooking the beans.
Prepare the Beans
- Sort beans to remove any discolored beans or stones.
- Place beans in a large stock pot and cover with water by 3” to 4". Allow to soak 12-18 hours to rehydrate beans. Alternatively, cover beans with boiling water and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow beans to soak in hot water for one hour.
- Drain rehydrated beans and cover with fresh water. Set pot on high heat and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain boil and cook for 30 minutes; drain again.
Process the Jars
- Boil water in a kettle or a separate pot for the final filling of the jars.
- 5 minutes before beans are ready, lift empty jars from the canner, drain, and set on a towel covered surface. Double check the water level in the canner to make sure it’s where it should be.
- Measure 1/2 teaspoon of salt into each jar, then fill jars with hot beans to within 1-1/2” of the rim. Add fresh hot water, leaving a 1” headspace at the top of the jar.
- Use a non-metallic tool around the inside of the jars to remove air bubbles; double check headspace.
- Wipe jar rims to remove any residue that may have spilled. A clean rim is essential to a good seal.
- Set jar lids in place. Screw bands on finger tight.
- Use a jar lifter to gently transfer the jars to the pressure canner.
- Lock pressure canner lid in place and turn the heat up to high.
- Watch for steam escaping from the vent pipe. When it begins to come out in a steady stream, set the timer for 10 minutes. Once vented, place the weight on the vent (15 pounds) or shut the petcock.
- For a dial-gauge pressure canner, bring it to 11 pounds of pressure, then adjust heat to maintain that pressure. For weighted gauge canners, heat until the weight begins to jiggle or rock; this indicates that the canner has reached 10 pounds of pressure inside. Adjust the heat so that it rocks steadily. Do not leave the pressure canner unattended.
- When canner reaches necessary pressure, begin timing. Check pressure frequently to maintain required pressure. If pressure drops below what is recommended in the recipe, return to pressure and start timing all over again.
- Process pint jars for 75 minutes; quart jars for 90 minutes at elevations below 1,000'. See notes for altitude adjustments.
- When processing time is complete, turn off heat and allow canner to cool completely. Dial gauge canners should register zero pressure; weighted gauge canners should be allowed to reach room temperature.
- Remove the weight (it will be hot!) or open the petcock; open lid.
- Use a jar lifter to remove the jars from the canner, placing them on a towel-covered surface. Allow to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours.
- Check seals. Lids should be solid and pulled down tight. (If they flex and pop, the jar didn’t seal; put unsealed jars in the refrigerator and use those first).
- Remove rings and wash outsides of jars. Label and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Use a non-iodized salt for this recipe. Canning salt and sea salt are both acceptable options.
Boiling lids or heating above 180°F as once recommended can damage the sealing compound.
How many beans?
This recipe calls for 3 pounds of dry beans, which will net 9 pint jars. If your canner is large enough to double stack, you can double this recipe to make 18 jars. Be sure to place a canning rack between the rows and offset the jars so steam can flow all around them. Three pounds of dry beans will fit in an 8-quart stock pot. To make 7 quart-sized jars, you'll need four pounds of dry beans.
Altitude adjustments for both pint and quart jars
Dial gauge canner:
- 0-2,000' - 11 pounds pressure
- 2,001-4,000' - 12 pounds pressure
- 4,001-6,000' - 13 pounds pressure
- 6,001-8,000' - 14 pounds pressure
Weighted gauge canner:
- 0-1,000' - 10 pounds pressure
- 1,000' and up - 15 pounds pressure
This recipe is adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 18 Serving Size: 1 grams
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 71Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 495mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 3gSugar: 6gProtein: 4g