Country Living Series

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Canning refried beans the SMART way

It happened again.

We had a Mexican food night at our neighborhood potluck, but I foolishly neglected to check the number of cans of refried beans I had on hand. Crud. One small can, that was it. No time to buy any more.

For us, we can't just "dash" to the grocery store whenever we're low on something. We have to plan for it. A "dash" takes half an hour, minimum, so I try to "dash" as little as possible.

But the fact remained, I only had one small can of refried beans, and the guests were arriving. So... we did without a lot of refried beans. Something had to change.

Besides, it bugs me to buy refried beans. We eat a fair bit of them in our house and so my natural inclination is to make and can my own. Making refried beans is easy enough to do, but it's time-consuming (in other words, not something you should attempt when guests are arriving on your doorstep). However canning refried beans is not only a challenge, but I also learned that they're one of those things home-canners should not attempt because of their viscosity.

Ahh... but thanks to you, my dear readers, I realized that all I had to do to "can" refried beans was to can up whole pinto beans. Canned pintos are easily mashed into refried beans. Duh, now why didn't I think of that before?

So I raided my pantry and came away with five pounds of beans.


I poured them into a pot...


...and filled it with water.


Then I set the pot back and just let the beans soak for twenty-four hours. The beans will swell, so I made sure to add enough water to keep them covered.


By the next morning the beans had swelled to many times their original volume.


So I poured off the soak water...


...added fresh water...


...and put the pot on the stove to boil.


Once the beans were boiling...


...I put the pot on the woodstove to simmer gently all day long. The house smelled rich and bean-y.


In the evening, I washed some pint jars.


The beans were beautifully soft, and the cookwater was rich. Make a note: Add more water next time to make more cookwater.


My canner holds 18 pints, so I divvied the beans between those 18 pints. My canning book doesn't recommend filling the beans to the absolute top of the jars, so I didn't try to cram the beans in.



I began filling jars.


I ended up draining the beans over a pot (to catch the cookwater) so I wouldn't miss any.


When the beans were divvied up between the eighteen pint jars, it was time to fill them with the cookwater. This is why I'd wished I'd used more water, to get more volume.


The cookwater was so thick it was like a thin sauce.


I portioned it out among the 18 pints and juuuuust managed to get them mostly full. This is why I'd wished I'd added more water. In a pinch I could have topped things off with plain water, but I decided not to since the jars were juuuust full enough. I'll know better next time.


Scalding my lids and gaskets.


Adding rings.


First layer in the canner.


Second layer in the canner.


Dried (but soft) beans need to can (in pint jars) for 65 minutes.


While the beans processed, I cleaned the kitchen and then indulged in a glass of wine.


They came out of the canner just before I went to bed, but the morning sun shone on eighteen pints of freshly-canned pinto beans.


To turn pinto beans into refried beans, just blend with a mixer, add spices, and either eat as is or fry them a bit.


This is the kind of "convenience" food I like having in my pantry -- something I can make myself and not feel the need to dash to the grocery store at the last minute.

Thank you to everyone who suggested this!

32 comments:

  1. you don't have to COOK the beans before you can them. Soak, drain and fill the jars about 2/3 - 3/4 full and add water and salt. Process

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    1. I've not canned beans before so I'm curious... would the beans done this way be just as soft as those that were soaked AND cooked before being canned?

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  2. I'm in the middle of an experiment with refried beans. I'm taking the beans, cooking them and then dehydrating them. After they dry (which takes very little time), put them into a food processor or blender and turn them into powder. Then for refried beans all you have to do is add water and spices and heat. I've got a pound that I just finished up and am going to try making the refried ones tomorrow. I'll let you know how it comes out. Certainly takes up a lot less room and not as hard as canning.

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    1. What a great idea! Thanks for posting this!

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    2. That is what Taco Bell uses. Dehydrated pinto beans. At the Franchise, it is just open the bag, empty into a container and add water.

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  3. awesome post.
    Thanks for this and for all you do to teach us all.

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  4. Hey Patrice,

    I have a two gallon jug of pinto beans that have been stored for approximately 8 months. These babies need to be canned. I've been hesitant on doing this because the last time I made beans from the bag, they were terrible. Soaked them over night, and cooked them for 7 hours. They were still hard. After reading your post, I now have the confidence to try cooking them again, and then can them. Wish me luck!

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    Replies
    1. Your water is too hard try bottled water.

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    2. Do not add salt when you soak beans.

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    3. Actually don't add salt until the very end of cooking, if you are going to use broth to cook the beans, use a low or no sodium broth. Salt makes beans tough.

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  5. I just love reading your canning blogs Patrice, well every blog for that matter, but these especially are great learning experiences.

    I've bought your canning booklets and love them, having read them from cover to cover. Thus far I have only canned fruit, jams and chutneys as I'm yet to buy my pressure canner. I've decided that it will be my Christmas present :-)

    Thanks also for the pictures which add so much depth to your blogs.

    Jenny

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  6. Great post as usual Patrice, but if you had a pressure cooker you could have cooked the beans up in 10-15 minutes and made some last minute refried beans (As long as the beans weren't to old and lost their moisture content).

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  7. you are very welcome patrice..i have been doing pinto beans and every other kinda bean this way forever...not just for refried beans but for the convenience of having the darn beans cooked and ready to eat when i want beans or i need beans. by the way, navy beans cook up this way and are great for a good navy bean soup or for homemade baked bean dish.

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  8. That's great. A beautiful sight to behold. I need to do some. We don't eat refried beans too often but I love to add a pint of beans to some of the soup I make and keep on the stove this time of year. I've great northern beans out. My next canning project is going to be baked beans.

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  9. We have been canning pinto beans for years. We rinse pinto beans then put one cup in a quart jar, one half teaspoon of salt, and fill with water, leaving a one inch head space. Then process for 90 minutes at 15 lbs pressure. So much faster and easier. Also, we then use them for refried beans, baked beans or chili with beans, all convenience foods for us. We live more than an hour from the nearest store so we keep quick meals on hand. Being a former California family, we love Mexican food

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  10. Patrice. Two timers. One clean and pristine. One disgustingly filthy. Do you simply not see filth or do you not care? At least you could keep photos of filth off your blog. Filth and food do not mix and, since I have seen so much of it in your kitchen, none of your food is appealing. Please have a second pair of eyes check your photos (someone who can see dirt) before you post them on your blog.

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    1. Garden Gal, as always your charm surpasses your class. Whomever it was that told you that your opinion was wanted, needed, or interesting, lied.

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    2. So much for building your bouquet of friendship, as you state on your blog.

      I hope if the balloon ever goes up, you truly are capable of producing every thing you need and do not have to count on others for anything, as you may end up eating crow over your of your idea of what is appealing.

      sidetracksusie

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    3. You could always send Patrice a quiet email about this if hygiene was really your concern. I think your real agenda is trying to diminish her and build yourself up through ridicule disguised as concern trolling. Hhm, Saul Alinsky, is that you?

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    4. gardengal is a meanspirited toxic person who just has to rain on everyones parade with her poisonpen diatribe...it is obvious that she does not spend much time in a kitchen.

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    5. Garden gal, I'm sure there's help out there for mysophobes. I'd love to just suggest that you "get over it" but it's probably not so simple for some people.

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    6. I am just not seeing what gardengal is seeing! Just b/c there are no stainless appliances, marble counter tops, tiled floors, or in other words "modern kitchen" does not make for filth or dirt. Patrice, I love your kitchen (wished mine was as organized), your whole homestead and family. Keep up the excellent work! Does gardengal really garden?
      Kelly in K'ville, NC

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  12. I also can my pinto beans dry. When I make refried beans I just mashed them with a spoon didn't work all that great I love the idea of using a mixer don't know why I never thought of that I use the mixer to mash my potatoes Thanks for the hint.

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  13. To all those who can their beans dry, do you notice an increase in stomach issues doing it this way? I always thought the soak was to eliminate some of the gas the beans caused.

    Has anyone ever soaked their beans just long enough to sprout them and then canned them? I was thinking of doing some this way.

    sidetracksusie

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    Replies
    1. In Belize they always add fresh garlic to any bean dish. It takes away the gas-sies.

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  14. Thanks for the reminder, Patrice. I have several jars of black beans left on the shelf, but I'm out of pinto beans and don't want to have an "emergency." :)

    On a side note, do you know anything about the large bowl on your counter (in the photo with the wine glass)? I was given the very same bowl by a friend of my mother. Do you know how old it is?

    Blessings,
    Lisa

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    1. I inherited that bowl from my grandmother, who passed away in 1979. It was her bread bowl -- the bowl she would make bread in. It's too heavy (and I'm afraid of breaking it) for making bread, so we use it as a general storage bowl. I'm guessing it's at least 85 years old, since (I believe) she got it for her wedding. However I can't remember exactly when she and my grandfather were married -- I think it was 1925, somewhere in that vicinity.

      - Patrice

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    2. My Grandmother also has that bowl. It is one of my favourites. I am excited to can some pintos. My son loves burritos, and we are out of refried beans. I have made them in the crock pot, but this will be my first time canning them.

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  15. I'd be very interested if anyone had any results to compare using the three methods of canning beans that I've noted from this blog and comments:

    1 - dry beans and water canned
    2 - soak dry beans, drain then add water and can
    3 - soak beans, drain & cook beans then can

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  16. I use method 2 and love the results. Beans better than if they cooked all day in a crock pot. Perfectly done and perfect broth. And so easy. Yum!

    And about previous poster question about stomach issues...we actually find a decrease in stomach issues with the home canned beans ;) One of my favorite things to can! So very convenient to have on hand. Have not tried refired beans but I think I will!

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  17. Great recipes and advice thanks

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