Self-Sufficiency Series

Monday, January 3, 2011

Refried beans: The last frontier of canning

UPDATE: Since putting up this post, I have learned that refried beans should NOT be home-canned because the viscosity is too thick to allow heat to sufficiently penetrate the interior. Darn.

I had a hankering to can some refried beans. Trouble is, I found out refried beans are devilishly hard to can. Easy to make, but hard to can.

The last time I made refried beans was many years ago, when we still lived in Oregon. I took a ten-pound bag of pinto beans, made them into refried beans, and pressure-canned the bunch - and lost every single pint. Not one pint sealed. Boy was that frustrating!

So here it is, years later, and I decided to give it another go. We eat a fair bit of refried beans whenever I make burritos, and I hate buying cans of beans at the grocery store when I knew I could make them myself.

So I tried it again.

First thing I did was put the beans in a pot of water and let them soak overnight. I added lots of water because the beans swell up. The next morning I drained the soak water and added fresh water.


I brought the pot to a boil on the stove. Once the beans were boiling, I put the pot on the woodstove to simmer for several hours. I stirred the beans about every twenty or thirty minutes but otherwise did nothing else. I used the woodstove because it's hot anyway, and why waste the propane by using my kitchen stove? The house smelled nice and "beany." Some people may not like the smell, but to me it smells warm and rich.


After the beans were good and soft, I drained them. I reserved a bit of the juice in case I needed to moisten the beans a bit.


Then I put the beans in a bowl and prepared to beat them with a mixer. This is the stage where you can add spices - garlic, chili powder, whatever. But since the only time we use refried beans is when they're mixed in with burritos, I don't bother spicing them up since the burrito mix is already spicy.


Here's what they look like, mixed. They're starting to look more like the real thing, aren't they?


At this point, some people pan-fry the beans to make them a bit crusty (hence, refried beans). Again, I don't bother since they're just getting canned.

Out of this initial small batch, I got six pints' worth of refried beans.


I used my Tattler reusable canning lids. I've switched completely to the reusable lids since I now have a lifetime supply.


I put the jars in the pressure canner and let them can at 10 lbs of pressure for 65 minutes. But near the end of the processing time, I heard an ominous bang! Then shortly thereafter, another bang! And another. And another. Mayhem in my canner.

Of course I couldn't open the lid to the canner until the pressure had dropped completely. Unsurprisingly, this is what I saw:


Beans had spewed all over the lid as well.


Obviously something had gone catastrophically wrong. Should I not have used Tattler lids for the beans? Trouble is, I had just as bad a failure rate for regular lids those many years ago. What to do? Why couldn't I can refried beans?

Puzzled, I emailed the Tattler folks, explained the situation, and attached the photo. I concluded by asking, "My husband's theory is that the beans were so thick and had such explosive gases venting from them during the processing time that it blew off the lids, but I'm at a loss. Thoughts?"

Within half an hour, I had a reply from Brad Stieg at Tattler. "Try applying the metal bands finger tight and DON'T reverse them before processing," he wrote. (If you remember, when using Tattler lids the rings need to be loosened a quarter-inch before processing.) "The metal bands need to be finger tight/snug, but not so tight as to prevent pressure release, hence the direction to reverse the band 1/4". What we are finding is that we do not need to reverse the metal band, so long as we are not getting them too tight to begin with."

A later conversation clarified this issue. Apparently a lot of canners tighten the rings on their lids before processing. And I mean TIGHTEN. Since Tattler lids need to vent a bit during canning, the instructions are to loosen the rings a quarter-inch before processing. But if the rings are merely finger-tightened - not TIGHTENED, if you know what I mean - then the quarter-inch reversal isn't necessary.

This was excellent information to know. So I processed another batch of refried beans, this time nine pints, and didn't loosen the rings. I had two failures, a decided improvement (78%) but still not 100%.

I few days later, I set about making a third batch. I was determined to master refried beans. I've concluded that refried beans are one of the most difficult things to can. If I could conquer refried beans (cue ominous drum roll), I could conquer the world!!

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yes. Beans.

I made another batch, this time sixteen pints. But this time I did things a little bit differently. I didn't loosen the rings, and instead of filling the jars to within an inch of the top, I only filled the jars about 3/4 full.


You've seen a thick mixture of beans boiling on a stove, haven't you? They don't bubble gently, like soup. Instead, they muster their forces and burp out a huge belch of gas like a small explosion. Maybe this was what was happening in the jars inside the pressure canner - the beans were giving little explosions in the jars and banging the rings loose. So if they had a bit more room to explode, so to speak, maybe I'd have a higher success rate.

Once more I prepared the lids and gaskets...


...put the rings on the jars, and put them in the canner.


After processing, I opened the canner to find one failure. One, out of sixteen pints.


And you know what? I'm satisfied. The Tattler lids have performed splendidly for all my other canning ventures. If regular lids didn't work at all for refried beans, I'm pleased that Tattler lids gave me a 94% success rate.

I intend to keep canning refried beans and experimenting with what it takes to get a 100% success rate. That's half the fun of canning, you see - being able to conquer the world. Or at least the pantry.

65 comments:

  1. Just a thought...

    Could you cook the beans until they are soft enough to mash, but not mash them prior to canning? It would be easy to drain, heat and smash with a potato masher when you are ready to serve.
    Tanya

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  2. Wow. I've never seen a bean explosion before! I'm glad you were able to get the info from Tattler about not tightening the rings, it sounds like they have great customer service. That alone might convince me to try 'em out.

    Now I have a craving for burritos!

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  3. My very first canning experience was pinto beans. I put a 1/2 cup of dry pinto beans in a quart jar, water up to the ring, then a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, put the lids on and put them in the canner. 90 minutes at 15lbs (5k elevation), let them cool and I have beans for quick refried beans, or even baked beans. Never yet had a fail. For me this was the easiest canning ever. Now, I have done jam, peaches, chicken soup, elk stew, venison stew, chicken, and fresh tuna right off the boat. I have a friend who cans bear meat and makes the best taquitos ever. Keep trying.

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    Replies
    1. I simply LOVE canning pintos!!! Easiest ever!!! Glad to hear of someone else who does it!!!

      Delete
  4. I'm not an expert here...but why not wait to mix the beans until after you open the jars to use them? I process our cooked pinto beans whole with a bit of water and when I need refried beans, I drain and smush them accordingly.

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  5. I admire your tenacity. What a pity to have such a loss of food (and money). I'm thinking the commercially canned beans may be cheaper in the long run, if not as satisfying.

    I guess this proves what men have been telling us for thousands of years - it's impossible to contain bean gas.

    Anonymous Patriot
    USA

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  6. To Tricia,

    Did you soak the pinto beans first. Also, do you use boiling water to pour over the beans?

    Thanks,
    Tanya

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  7. Patrice, oh my gosh. What photos!! All I could think of was the mess you had to clean up. Poor you.

    Not to be a smart-aleck, but I'm thinkin' there's an easier way!! You can pressure cook the beans with seasonings and then dehydrate them. When rehydrated, they are easy to squash. OR...you could just buy them already cooked, flaked and dehydrated and totally organic from http://www.oklahomapastrycloth.com/shop/product/JH5KW88LUAY6L/6/1 Add water and you have spicy refried beans in 5 minutes with little shelf space required!! That was a blatantly obvious plug!! ;-)

    Do you "look" your beans? First time I ever heard that term was when I was working at a grocery in East Tennessee and was asked that question. I asked them what they were talking about and they said that you are supposed to pour your beans out onto a cookie sheet and "look" for rocks or dirt before you soak them. I have yet to find a rock in these past 30 years!!!

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  8. I was successful in canning "refried beans" by soaking, then putting in jar to half way adding all the seasonings for the beans that my family likes, filling with water then canning. Now when we want refried beans I simply open the jar and heat and mash!
    PS. My husband enjoy and appreciate your blog!
    Kelly in Kansas

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  9. You could always can the pinto beans after cooking but before mashing. When I make refried beans I cook them in the crock pot and about 30 minutes before I need them I put them in a skillet and mash the life out of them. They are delicious! I would think that it would make it easier on you. Unless of course in the SHTF situation you don't have a skillet to mash them in....

    Ouida Gabriel

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  10. Hello! Just wanted to add my 2 cents LOL Like a lot of ppl have said .. just can the beans and mash after opening, I can pintos for the same reason and I haven't had any jars lost this way. I follow the recipe in the Ball book. I think when you mash them they are to thick for just regular refrieds in a canner??? Anyway Awesome Blog! Happy New Year to you n Yours!
    Blessings
    GG

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  11. Patrice,
    Thank you for your continued sharing of canning experiences and your diligence in finding the solution to a problem. I have been following your post's concerning the canning of beans since they seem to cause some difficulty. Our continued testing and experimenting, makes Brad's advice of finger tightening and not reversing the metal band very sound. We have found this works well and eliminates the 1/4 inch, 1/4 turn confusion.
    I believe you and your husband have both hit on a good point. You left additional head space and your husbands point of the burp of pressure captured then released by the dense bean mass makes good sense. Since the lid is tightened finger tight to allow pressure to release slow and steady as with most goods, the sudden release of the accumulated pressure ('burp'), cannot release fast enough and thus the problem. Thank you for your confidence in our TATTLER Lids and continuing your problem solving quest not only for yourself but your readers as well. Great job. Cudos to your husband, that pantry is sharp and a fine job by yourself for the large supply of cannd goods.
    Loren C. Stieg

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  12. It's a good idea to check with the National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://uga.edu/nchfp/) before wasting food. Refried beans, pumpkin puree, & other thick, commercially canned foods cannot be canned safely at home. We just don't have the right equipment. Ditto for high-fat foods such as butter, lard, bacon, cheese, etc.

    God bless,
    Bonnie (Master Food Preserver)
    Opportunity Farm
    NE WA

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  13. Oooppps. No offense, but don't let Bonnie (Master Food Preserver) see Enola Gay's website! He! He! He!

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    Replies
    1. Is there a link for Enola Gay's website? Love your blog! I'm so jealous of your wood stove! Thanks so much for all you do!

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    2. Enola's blog is here:

      http://www.paratusfamiliablog.com/

      And welcome!

      - Patrice

      Delete
  14. @Tanya
    No I just sort through the beans to make sure there are not any rocks, then start measuring them into the jars. I usually can about 25lbs in a day this way. So quick and easy.

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  15. @Tanya
    I reread your comment and realized I didn't answer both your questions.
    No, I don't use boiling water. I got this recipe from a lady who has been canning them this way for more than 30 years. Whenever I want to have refried beans for tacos etc. I just dump the entire contents of the jar into a frying pan with a little bit of oil, then using a masher or fork, smash them until they are warm and the consistency I want. It usually takes about 10 minutes.

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  16. I can't believe I logged on to see this blog today...I was just wondering this morning if it is possible to can refried beans! I'm so glad I saw your post. Since I've yet to use my pressure canner, and I don't have Tattle lids, I think I'll just try canning beans and mashing them later.:0) Patrice (and everyone else) thank you so much for sharing all your canning stories and advice. There are so many of us who benefit from your experience!
    Lisa/dragonfly.garden

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  17. I thought all was going well. I'll bet you that Bush's beans will not be willing to share their "secrets". If only the the dog that they use in their commercials would REALLY spill the beans.

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  18. Off topic here Patrice, but can you have a post on your wood stove? was it there when you moved in? do you cook on the top much? what brand is it? Looks like it works without a blower, which is good for the electric bill and in emergencies. We just bought a small wood stove (probably too small) and getting ready to hook it up.

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  19. Okay, this looks like way too much trouble. I have a small crockpot that I add beans, onion and water to in the morning, or early afternoon. No soaking required for pinto beans. Let them cook till I'm ready. Add some salt and garlic and mash in their own juices. (Don't add salt at the beginning, it will make them tough.)

    I don't see the need to can ahead, since it's so simple to do when I need them.

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  20. The LDS Cannery has excellent DRIED refried beans (bulk). No mess. Just add water and cook 5 minutes or so. They are so-o good.

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  21. I've already seen Enola's website. I couldn't make up my mind whether I should point out the dangers or just let her go merrily on her way. But when I saw the horrible mess of beans I couldn't help myself. Btw - I didn't mention being a master food preserver to brag - just to let Patrice know I am educated in the matter. In the past 20 years I've taken the course 3 times; the first time to learn how to can, the 2nd & 3rd times just because I enjoyed it so much. I also took the classes in 3 different states - Oregon, Idaho, & Washington. It's a great way to meet people!

    God bless,
    Bonnie
    Opportunity Farm
    NE WA

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  22. Patrice -

    I am a total newbie at canning, only have done 3 batches in my new All American 921. Looks like that is what you use. I may have been influenced in picking that model by reading your blog, I'm not certain.

    Could you clarify one issue? In any of the explosions did the jars break or did the lids just blow off? After cleanup, were you able to re-use the jars, lids, and rings? I have been fortunate so far and only had one jar of soup fail to seal after canning (might not have properly cleaned the jar edge before canning) and have to go into the fridge for storage rather than onto the shelf for storage.

    Looks like you have a gas stove as well as the wood stove. We unfortunately have a glass top electric stove. We also have a Buck Stove wood stove but it does not appear to get hot enough on top to cook on the top surface. Maybe we have never built a big enough fire in it (we have a gas furnace for our main heat). We have used it more like a fireplace than a cook stove.

    Anyway when the 921 arrived I was greatly disappointed to discover it could not be used on our glass top stove. For now my solution has been to use it on our old Coleman Powerhouse Dual Fuel gasoline camping stove out in the garage/shop (gshop?).

    Thanks for all you do!

    Audioconsultant

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  23. Audioconsultant, I am totally unfamiliar with glass top stoves so I can't speak for whether or not you can use a canner on them. I do enjoy the versatility of our propane stove since I can adjust the heat instantly. I like my propane stove much better than the old electric stove we had in Oregon because of the instant heat adjustment.

    When the beans blew up in the canner, it was just the lids blowing off. The jars were not broken, and the rings, lids, and jar gaskets were all intact and able to be re-used. As I said, I think the issue was that the rings were too loose to begin with, and perhaps the jars were a bit too full (that's why I dropped the contents to 3/4 full on subsequent batches).

    Hope this helps!

    - Patrice

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  24. Folks who comment about it's easier or cheaper to do it this way or that way totally miss the point! Patrice, like Enola and myself, enjoy the challenge of canning other food items than just your standard jelly or tomatoes! We push the limits to see what we and our beloved canners are capable of. And the whole point is to be able to take a food product and prepare it wholesomely in your own kitchen and feed your family with it. Refried beans out of a jar, even without heating it up, is a healthy, high protein food that when the SHTF will be a blessing to Patrice and her family. And mine, now that Patrice has worked out some details for me. : ) Thanks Patrice!

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  25. Patrice and others,
    I am a newbie to this blog, but am totally addicted now. I have been home canning for over 20 years, and I am so glad to see others sometimes have trouble too. I have canned fresh october beans for 2-3 years, and still have trouble. I obtain good seals, but have "refried" beans when the process is done. (LOL)! But, I will NEVER give up. I have begun to dehydrate and seal beans though. The home canned goods I produce make great gifts for the family that they all look forward to every Christmas. And I am always delighted with their happiness. Thanks for the great information from everyone, and keep those home cans going. Also, I've got to check out the Tattler lids. Are they available everywhere?
    Kelly, NC

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  26. LOL

    What a picture.

    I had similar explosions, although somehow yours seem more dramatic. Mine occurred after the jars were out of the canner and I thought everything was fine. The jars sitting on the counter started blowing their tops and shooting straight up at the bottoms of my upper cabinets.

    Like you, I worked around this by not filling the jars as full and also by adding some more liquid so the beans were not as thick. Not sure if that was relevant or not but it's what I did and had no further problems.

    Homemade refried beans just taste better.

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  27. Patrice -
    What a mess :-)
    A least it stayed in the canner and not on the ceiling.
    Hate to be a turd in the punch bowel....but how can you be sure that the core temperature of the beans is reaching 240F?

    I'm going to have to agree with Bonnie that's it's not a good idea to home canned mashed beans.

    Audioconsultant-
    A glass top range cannot take the intense heat and sustained weight from pressure canning. The range top will crack.
    It is possible to use a pressure cooker or canner on a cook stove, but not on most wood/coal heaters.
    With a cook stove you'll need a mixture of 50/50 quick wood and slow wood for fuel. The canner must be moved during processing or more wood added to the fire.

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  28. I have the opposite problem. Pretty much an bean I can comes out so soft its good for nothing but refried beans. Even when I start with unsoaked, uncooked dry beans! How to get them canned without making mush?

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  29. Granny Miller - Your response to Audioconsultant has me concerned. I am just getting into canning and haven't had a chance to use my new pressure cooker yet. We have a glass top gas range and I was wondering if that is still a problem. The cooker would sit on a rack above the glass, not directly on it.

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    Replies
    1. Lorene - All American Pressure cookers are much larger and heavier than other brands. I have hear from people using other brands that they successfully can on a glass top. However you do run the risk of breaking the glass top.

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  30. Lorene -
    That might work but I'd still be concerned about the weight of a full canner.
    If it were me I'd check with the manufacture. Fact is stoves aren't made as well as they used to be.
    I recommend that for people who are serious about canning either try to find a conventional electric stove from the 60's
    (forget about special canning burners- they're a favorite rant of mine)
    or,buy a portable LP propane two burner
    "camp" stove. The camp stove will last for years and the burners put out about 30,000 BTU's
    per burner. The camp stove is much cheap than a new glass top range.

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    Replies
    1. I've used a glass top range for the last 10 years to pressure can tomatoes to cream corn without a problem. Maybe I've just been lucky?

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  31. We have used our glass top stove to can for the last two years and have had no problems. We also have used our huge BBQ with the side burner. I am not recommending the glass top, just pointing out that we haven't had any trouble. Also, my sister uses her glass top stove to can all the time. Of course, she only cans jams and jellies.

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  32. Patrice,
    I have a friend that told my wife that when you cook Pinto beans to add either a carrot or a potato then after they are done remove the P or C and throw it away. This helps to remove the explosive properties fron the gas in the beans. My wife ate the carrot wich tasted delicious but it defeated the purpose for removing the smelly gas. I don't know if this will help on canning, but it's worth a try.

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  33. Hi Patrice, I found this blog from:
    http://www.reusablecanninglids.com/Reviews_and_Blogs.html

    I was delighted to see that you are "The" Patrice Lewis whose articles I enjoy on WND.

    Re: Granny Miller said to Lorene: "...,buy a portable LP propane two burner "camp" stove."

    I did this (Camp-Chef brand) and have been very happy with the results. I have also used turkey fryer burners. They work but are a little fussier tuning the flame compared to the camp stove.

    This works particularly well for me in August when it is too hot to enjoy / endure canning in the kitchen. Naturally, August thru October is when I am busiest canning.

    The Camp-Chef is remarkably frugal with propane too. I get two full seasons out of a 5 gallon bottle. I should mention that I use the American 941 fully loaded so my fuel usage would probably be much worse with my 7 qt. canner. I probably do 10-15 full loads a season on the 941. The rest of the year I use the stove and a smaller canner.

    IMO, the 941 is too big for any electric stove and more easily loaded and unloaded from the camp stove.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the review of the lids and the chuckles from the refried bean experiment. A few of my own disasters came to mind looking at your photos...

    Scott H

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  34. That's funny, Scott - "the" Patrice Lewis indeed. Never forget I'm exactly what I claim to be: an opinionated housewife.

    Glad to have you on the blog. Good propane stove info, thanks for including it.

    - Patrice

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  35. Thanks for all the great advice! I will look into a camp stove for my pressure cooker! It will be a little hot in Texas in the summer but better than chancing ruining my glass cooktop!

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  36. Oh my gosh and what a mess! I can so relate to messes in a canner although I have not tried canning refried beans. I can a wide range of beans though just not refried. I'm wondering if it is the density of the refried beans that is creating the problem for you. I'm certainly going to have to do a bit of experimenting with canning refried beans. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

    Thanks for clarifying the tightening with the Tattlers too. I'm in the process of switching over to Tattlers and glass inserts. I love using the Tattlers.

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  37. Yeah, what Bonnie said. Too late she and I have seen Enola's blog. I too really shuddered when I saw canning refried beans. LOL! hmmm, perhaps I know Bonnie from the Oregon State MFP program. anyway can the beans whole then mash when your ready to serve.

    p.s. keep in mind that Tattlers is not approved for home canning. No official testing has ever been done on them.

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  38. How about drying the refried beans. Rehydrate 3/4 c beans to 1/2 c water. I think. Let sit for 20 min. They really are good.

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  39. I have successfully canned refried beans a number of times. I use standard lids and a pressure canner similar to the one shown. My bean preparation method is similar, except my beans are a bit looser (more water/oil added). I have found that during processing, the beans dry up/firm up a bit, so when i make them looser, they come out to the perfect consistency after being processed. I believe the extra fluid also helps the beans to bubble rather than explode.

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  40. problem is that when you blend the beans, you blend in air and the beans are pretty viscous. If you don't have enough airspace in the jar to allow for the difference in expansion rate when the pressure comes off, blooey. That's why having a looser mix (more oil or water and leaving more air space in the jar gives a lower failure rate. If you bled off the pressure more slowly, you would probably also improve success but it sounds like you have the problem pretty well licked with your methods. Good luck.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, so when pouring a plaster or resin into a mould, the mix is first subjected to a vacuum to draw off, or 'boil' out the trapped and dissolved air. For the RFB, the air trapped by blending would be an insulation preventing heat from reaching the core during processing, and a time bomb in the form of explosive gas as it reaches either a boiling point from heat or a flash point as a vacuum from cooling with the lids sealed. Somebody needs to report a canning attempt after subjecting the whole batch of RFB to a vacuum.

      Delete
  41. Thank you for this string. I just canned two batches of refried beans and didn't lose a single jar. I incorporated a few suggestions above: not filling jars all the way and finger tightening. I also added a few other elements that might be helpful for you all. The problem with refried beans with cooking in general is that they congeal and resist bubbling until a giant bubble breaks through -so it explodes in the pot and explodes in the jar. So what I did was to make them thinner to start (especially since they harden up when cool anyway). Since there was a delay after preparing the cans before pressure canning, I microwaved the bottles in 1-2min cycles, to heat from the inside. I did this several times with pauses in between to allow the heat to distribute and soften up the beans. I also put a 1 inch layer of water over the top of the beans figuring the water would drop into the bubble holes and that it would loosen the tension on the surface of the beans so they wouldn't explode as violently. Btw I blended the beans in a blender, potentially trapping more air. Then I pressure canned them by bringing water to a boil first with the jars inside so that the heat rise was slower. I used both quart and pint jars but used the lid and band Mason jars, not the rubber gasket variety. Lid and band type may take more pressure?
    I'm not an expert canner but these two runs went perfectly: no explosions and every one sealed tight. Possibly one of the techniques made all the difference, possibly it was a combination. Most importantly, they came out tasting great. Hopes this helps.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thank you for this string. I just canned two batches of refried beans and didn't lose a single jar. I incorporated a few suggestions above: not filling jars all the way and finger tightening. I also added a few other elements that might be helpful for you all. The problem with refried beans with cooking in general is that they congeal and resist bubbling until a giant bubble breaks through -so it explodes in the pot and explodes in the jar. So what I did was to make them thinner to start (especially since they harden up when cool anyway). Since there was a delay after preparing the cans before pressure canning, I microwaved the bottles in 1-2min cycles, to heat from the inside. I did this several times with pauses in between to allow the heat to distribute and soften up the beans. I also put a 1 inch layer of water over the top of the beans figuring the water would drop into the bubble holes and that it would loosen the tension on the surface of the beans so they wouldn't explode as violently. Btw I blended the beans in a blender, potentially trapping more air. Then I pressure canned them by bringing water to a boil first with the jars inside so that the heat rise was slower. I used both quart and pint jars but used the lid and band Mason jars, not the rubber gasket variety. Lid and band type may take more pressure?
    I'm not an expert canner but these two runs went perfectly: no explosions and every one sealed tight. Possibly one of the techniques made all the difference, possibly it was a combination. Most importantly, they came out tasting great. Hopes this helps.

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  43. Thank you for your comments above. Last night I blended up 12 quarts of refried beans and took the suggestions of leaving more space, finger tightening jars and making the mix looser.
    I also employed a few other elements. Reasoning that what makes refried beans difficult is that they congeal and resist bubbling, requiring a large force to break through and causing the explosion, I added a few other tricks:
    1. Since there was a delay after preparation before canning, I heated beans up from inside the jar by pulse heating in microwave for 1-2minutes x 4-5 cycles and pausing in between to allow heat to distribute.
    2. I added a 1 inch layer of water atop the beans to reduce the surface tension and allow smaller bubbles to break through easier. I also expected water to fill the holes as the bubble burst and thin the bubble tracks.
    3. I brought the water in the canner to a boil before closing the canner, slowing down the heat-up time so heat could distribute more evenly and beans could get all around hotter and reduce the gel effect before the bubbling started.

    This worked out great for both quart and pint jars. No explosions and all of them sealed perfectly. I did use the lid and band Mason jars, not the lid and gasket type. Maybe lid and band can take more pressure? I'm not an expert canner yet but so far so good. I don't know if it was one of these techniques or a combination of all of them that did the job. But maybe these other techniques can help as well.
    Good luck.

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  44. I tried canning beans for the first time today.I soaked them for 24 hours and filled my jars as specified in the recipe I had.After pressure canning for 90 min at 10lbs, the beans had absorbed most of the liquid I put in the jars.They all sealed tightly,but now that they are cooled,they have absorbed ALL the liquids and look like refried beans to me...Are they safe to eat?

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    1. Like you, my refried beans also sealed properly (once I overcame the exploding lid problem) and looked just fine. However in writing my ebooklets on canning (see the Self Sufficiency Series link at the top of the blog page), I learned there are several highly-viscous foods that should NOT be home-canned because home pressure canners are not adequate to penetrate heat to the center of the jars. One of those things is refried beans. At this point I would advice people to play it safe rather than sorry and NOT home-can refried beans. As for the beans you've already canned, while they're **probably** fine, I'll have to cover fanny and say you'll be eating them at your own risk.

      - Patrice

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  45. I recommend that you get a hold of your extension service and get the tried and true method of canning beans. I can lots of beans, chickpea, black, red, black-eyed peas, great northern, pinto, kidney... With the pinto we do both pints and quarts. To make them them refried I just open the jar of beans and heat and mash. Works Great... If your instructions for canning are older than you or your children, get a hold of your local extension service to get the latest and safest facts about home canning.

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    1. How nice of Anonymous to show up and straighten you out, Patrice! :-Z

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  46. ok patrice is it fine to can them as pinto beans, and mash into refried beans when ready to use? we are on a very limited income and if i could buy beans in bulk and can them would help us alot where we eat alot of them

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    1. You can certainly can pinto beans (unmashed) at 10 lbs pressure for 65 minutes (pints). However it might be most efficient to keep them dried and just plan ahead for when you want refried beans, i.e. soak them, then simmer them, then drain and mash them just before eating. Bulk beans are one of the cheapest and most nutritious foods there are, so you're wise to explore the easiest methods of enjoying them.

      - Patrice

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  47. Just came across this blog while looking into Tattler reusable lids... So, we have been canning pinto beans for years. Never lost a jar. Don't mash them, just soak, add some onion and salt, heat, pack into jars and pressure can for 1 1/2 hours for quarts, I think--mash them when you heat them up to use. No problem!

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  48. We have been canning pinto beans for years. Never lost a jar. Soak, don't drain water, add onion and salt, heat to boiling, put in jars and pressure can for 90 minutes for pints. Mash when you are ready to use.

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  49. I've had some success with freezing refried beans. *tip* make then runny before freezing because they lose moisture.

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  50. Thanks for a great post! I make homemade refried beans often and I was wondering to can them...Now I know, Frozen they will stay :P I always freeze mine in dinner portions in ziploc bags...Are you still able to just can pot beans do you know?

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    1. Samanta, take a look at this post for an update on canning refried beans:

      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/12/canning-refried-beans-smart-way.html

      - Patrice

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  51. I can't believe I logged on to see this blog today...I was just wondering this morning if it is possible to can refried beans! I'm so glad I saw your post. Since I've yet to use my pressure canner, and I don't have Tattle lids, I think I'll just try canning beans and mashing them later.:0) Patrice (and everyone else) thank you so much for sharing all your canning stories and advice. http://www.primoremodeling.com

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    1. Harold, please see this blog post for additional info on canning refried beans:

      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/12/canning-refried-beans-smart-way.html

      - Patrice

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  52. Thank you so much for sharing because as I went in search today to find out why I was having so much trouble canning my refried beans and its been so frustrating...I found your blog Hallelujah!!! I've canned tons over the last 20 years and have never had this problem...As I looked at your pictures and read it was like you had been at my house taking pictures and reading my thoughts. Any idea if the bottles just didn't seal but not exploded, do I need to re pressure cook them and for m\how long? Or can I Hot water bath them the second time and if so for how long?

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    1. Amy, take a look at this follow-up blog post:

      http://www.rural-revolution.com/2012/12/canning-refried-beans-smart-way.html

      I would NOT try to re-can the beans, either using a hot water bath (a definite no-no) or the pressure canner. The beans in their mashed state are just too viscous. Put your batch in the fridge and try to use them as soon as possible (or pop them in the freezer). Next time, can just the beans themselves rather than "refried" beans.

      - Patrice

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  53. Thank you so much for posting this. As I went in search for answers today as to why I was having such stress canning refried beans I came upon your post and am wonder when you were at my house taking pics and hearing me RANT AND READING MY MIND SERIOUSLY!!! The only question I have now is if they didn't explode but didn't seal, do I need to re pressure cook them and for how much time or can I hot water bath them the 2nd time and if so for how long?

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