How to Can Pork and Beans

Beans are a prepper pantry staple, but they take a long time to cook!

This is fine in normal circumstances – you just need to plan ahead, soak them, and let them simmer for a few hours.

However, in a disaster situation, this can be easier said than done.  I’ve cooked them on my woodstove before and it took an entire day, and required constant stoking of the fire to keep the heat up enough.  Because of this, I’d only cook beans on the woodstove on the very coldest of days, when I required a blazing fire all day – otherwise it is going to use up far too much fuel to make a humble pot of beans.  And if you don’t have a woodstove, most other methods are going to be far too wasteful of fuel as well.

For this reason, I always have some jars of home canned beans on my shelves.  I make them a few different ways, but my two favorite are Basic Pork and Beans and Boston Baked Beans.  You can use whatever beans you have on hand for this.  Our household favorites are navy beans, white kidney beans and pinto beans.  Sometimes I mix a few different kinds.  I have also had good results with canning black-eyed peas and black beans – just follow the instructions for Basic Pork and Beans. And finally, if you need to, feel free to leave out the meat.  Your end result will not be as flavorful, but some have religious restrictions or follow a vegetarian diet.  Just skip the addition of the meat and carry on with the rest of the instructions.

Some people have questioned the price efficiency of canning my own beans instead of buying pre-canned beans at the store.  This is a valid point – they end up, with the price of power to can them and the use of a jar lid, to be about the same price as the conventional storebought canned beans.  However, if you are using organic beans and comparing the home canned to store bought organic beans, doing it yourself is far cheaper.  As well:

  • I know exactly what is in the beans I can myself – I am certain there is no high-fructose corn syrup, no additives to maintain texture or appearance and no mystery “spices” as they like to put on labels to hide the fact they are adding MSG to your food.
  • I’m assured of the quality of meat that I’m using.  The pork in home canned pork and beans will be the pork you have selected. In our case, it’s from a local farm that does not use growth hormones or antibiotics.  And, it’s real meat, not some congealed “meat by-product”.
  • I know the beans have been carefully washed and sorted by hand, not sifted through some machine that might not catch everything I would.
Yeah, I know – I’m picky!  But once you taste these beans, you’ll see why I go the extra mile to make them!

Boston Baked Beans

These beans are tangy and delicious right out of the jar.  The liquid is the classic “Boston Baked Beans” sauce containing no tomato product.  It thickens up beautifully during the canning process.  We often add these beans to speed up a batch of homemade chili.  The usual bean for this recipe is the navy bean, but I’ve also made it with pinto beans with excellent results.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of dried beans
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • 6 tbsp dark molasses
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp of onion powder
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 2 tsp of dry mustard
  • ½ tsp of powdered cloves

Directions

Rinse and sort dried beans, then soak them in hot water for up to 2 hours.

Discard the soaking water, then bring to a boil in fresh water.

Drain the beans again, this time reserving the cooking water.

Distribute the bacon evenly across sanitized pint jars.

Top the bacon with soaked beans, filling each jar no more than 2/3 full.

In the bean pot, bring 6 cups of the reserved liquid (topping up with water to get to the 3 cups if necessary) to a boil.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, simmering until they are well combined.

Ladle the hot molasses mixture over the beans and bacon, leaving one inch of headspace – see the photo to the left.  The beans must be totally covered with liquid and there must be room for them to expand.
Lid the jars and process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts, at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.

 Basic Pork and Beans

After the canning recipe, read on for some variations on the basic recipe.  This recipe has worked on any type of bean I’ve tried it with, including pinto, navy, black, red kidney, white kidney, chick peas (garbanzos), and black-eyed peas.  Adjust the meat you add according to what will blend nicely with your bean of choice, as well as how you intend to use the beans in the future.

NOTE:  I tried this once without pre-soaking the beans and the results were poor.  The beans had to be further cooked in liquid when I opened the jar.  They soaked up all the liquid and were not fully cooked.  This was resolved by two different methods: adding them to soup and letting them cook for another hour or two when I opened the jar, and making oven-baked beans.  (This is a link to Baked Bean Nirvana!!!! Truly the best baked beans I have ever eaten – I use my cast iron Dutch oven for these.)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds of dried beans
  • 1-2 pounds of ham, salt pork or bacon
  • salt as needed
  • 6 small onions, cut in half
  • 12 bay leaves
  • water or broth as needed

Directions

  1. Rinse and sort dried beans, then soak them in hot water for up to 2 hours.
  2. Discard the soaking water, then bring to a boil in fresh water or broth.
  3. Drain the beans again, this time reserving the cooking water.
  4. Distribute the pork evenly across sanitized pint jars.
  5. Top the meat with soaked beans, filling each jar no more than 2/3 full.
  6. Add to each jar a pinch of salt, 2 bay leaves and an onion.
  7. In the bean pot, bring 6 cups of the reserved liquid (topping up with water to get to the proper amount if necessary) to a boil.
  8. Ladle the hot liquid over the beans, leaving 1-1/2 inches of headspace.  The beans must be totally covered with liquid and there must be room for them to expand.
  9. Lid the jars and process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes for pints, 90 minutes for quarts, at 10 pounds of pressure, adjusting for altitude.

Mexican Variation:  Use black beans or pinto beans.  Instead of the bay leaf, add 1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder, plus 1/8 tsp of cumin, to each jar.  Add 1 can of tomato paste to the boiling liquid you are going to pour over the beans.  These are yummy popped right into a tortilla for bean burritoes or heated and mashed slightly to make “refried beans”.

BBQ Beans:  Use any type of beans.  Replace half of the boiling liquid with tomato juice and add 1 tsp of liquid smoke, 1 tbsp of dry mustard powder and 1 tbsp of white vinegar.  Top the contents of each jar with a tbsp of brown or Muscovado sugar

About the author:

Please feel free to share any information from this site in part or in full, giving credit to the author and including a link to this website and the following bio.

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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21 Comments  to  How to Can Pork and Beans

  1. Kim says:

    I put up a variety of beans and bean mixes as well. While it is easy to prep beans they require time that I don’t always have. A canned jar of them is easy to grab and use regardless of time limitations.

    Actually there are even more reasons to can your own beans. Interesting ingredients have started popping up in store canned beans. I’ve found colorants, calcium chloride, corn syrup and salt in store canned beans. Cans that should be just plain beans. I’m not buying flavored beans. I don’t see reasons for any of those ingredients but to avoid them I have to pay almost double to get a can of organic beans! Not worth it.

  2. iamhalfkin says:

    Daisy, I have had this same thought about the time and fuel it takes to cook beans. Here is my solution, (as I have not acquired my pressure canner yet.) Soak them for certain and then bring them to a boil for 15 minutes on what ever cooking source you have. I purchased a commercial Rocket stove that is very well made and weighs about 25 lbs. It cost me about 80 dollars. This stove is amazing. It works on the gasification principle, burning cleanly with very little smoke or wasted duel. In fact, it can bring water to a boil using the pine cones, twigs, and bamboo form my back yard.
    After the boil, place the pot in a thermal cooker, wonder box or hay box cooker. I have a commercial thermal cooker, ( found on Craigs list,) think pre- crock pot that does not use any electricity. I purchased the hay box cooker book from Amazon for cheap and then made another insulated box out of phone books and thick cotton sheets for my larger pot. Set overnight the beans will cook. If they need a little more, bring back the boil and insulate again.
    I truly believe this is a good method. You just need to be ahead of your cooking by a day. The Nuclear War Survival book taught me to make a stove from a bucket and feed it rolled paper ‘logs’ every 30 seconds and then transfer the pot to a home made insulated basket done with newspaper and blankets.
    Check out the chapter on food and water, good read – http://www.ki4u.com/free_book/
    chapters 8 and 9 on the left side bar.
    Take care,
    HalfKin

  3. Charlotte Andrews says:

    How many pints do the 3 lbs of beans make?

    • Daisy says:

      I usually do quarts because of the amount of headspace needed – this makes 6 quarts of beans. :)

      Daisy

      • Charlotte Andrews says:

        There’s just my husband and I, so I do most of my canning in pints. I do a few quarts for when we have company or when we’re going to have beans several meals. I also buy beans in bulk, so have to measure in cups not pounds. I did’nt put pork in my jars, that may be why I needed more “juice”. Canner is cooling now, so will see how it went. Thanks

        • Daisy says:

          Awesome – please let me know how they turned out! :)

          Daisy

          • Charlotte Andrews says:

            OK, just opened up a jar of beans that I canned the other day – just can’t make myself open a jar right after canning, seems like you should be able to enjoy the fact that they’re in the pantry for a little while, lol. Anyway, I opened a jar for dinner and they were delicious! No seasoning needed. We’re not big fans of pork n beans, but these were yummy. Husband said “can some more”. I did use pinto’s and no meat. Will probably do a batch in quarts for when the kids are here. The pint was perfect for us, with enough left over for my lunch tomorrow.

  4. Matt says:

    It’s Monday morning, 2/25. I don’t normally eat breakfast early as I am generally not hungry this early.

    I read this post and by the time I was done, my stomach was sending me “hunger pains”.

  5. Osh says:

    ….for the myopic, and otherwise sight impaired amongst us, the packages of beans found at the store with the many different kinds of beans in them may be a bit hazardous to our “dentures”, especially during survival times, if poor lighting prevails as I figure its going to. Why? We’re supposed to sort through those beans dry, before cooking to eliminate debris, especially rocks…normally with only one kind of beans in the bowl, its rather easy to pick out abnormalities, but with many different colors and sizes of beans all mixed together, the chore is multiplied many times over. Personally, I’ve already been to the dentist over my slipshod methods of sorting these beans, and I’ve promised myself no more. And we have dentists available now—what about after TSHTF?…

  6. Charlotte Andrews says:

    I’m giving this receipe a whirl. It made 12 pints, had to do the liquid another 1/2. Smells great. I usually can beans without any seasoning, but this sounded really good.

  7. Anne O. says:

    My mom’s older sister used to use the pressure cooker/canner to cook the beans. This requires a really blazing fire also, but not for as long. I can’t give you any details as I was about 13 the one time I was there when she making the beans. Another aunt I seem to recall seeomg jer putting a cast iron dutch oven and directly in the burn box on a bed of coals, but I don’t know if she was doing beans or something else. I sure wish I had paid better attention :)

  8. The Omnivore says:

    I’ve always been intrigued by canning but never actually went ahead and did it. Do you need the special canning equipment or can you do these by hand? I’ve always frozen my extra cooked beans (and I find they can keep for a LONG time in the freezer and still be extremely tasty) so I’ve bookmarked this recipe and, whether or not I can the leftovers, I’m looking forward to tasting it soon!

    • Daisy says:

      Hi, OmnivoreVeg! Well, to can beans, because they are a low-acid food, you do need a pressure canner. If you go up to the top tabs on this site and hover over the word preserving, you will see the word “canning” Click that and it will bring you to a couple of pages of articles about canning. Specifically check out the Canning 101 articles. This one give instructions for pressure canning. http://www.theorganicprepper.ca/canning-101-pressure-canning-12152012

      Feel free to ask any questions you might have! :)

      Daisy

  9. redgirl says:

    Everyone should learn to cook with a pressure cooker. It is so easy and takes very little time. You can cook beans in less than 15 minutes.

  10. fifty says:

    Well, FWIW, dry beans can be cooked with much less stove top time than one would think. As others have mentioned, the key is soaking ahead of time. I usually soak overnight. 2 hours doesn’t plump the beans up enough. The soaked beans should be finish sized, not small dry sized, and overnight seems to be enough time to do the trick.

    Then, the only thing is to boil the beans for 15-20 minutes. It’s easy to cook them too long at first if you’ve been used to cooking them for hours from the beginning, so trust that they will cook up in just 20 minutes (you can check them, too)! If you make the mistake of cooking too long, the beans will turn out mushy and falling apart.

    Be sure to use lots of cold (not hot) water for soaking. Then discard that water and add new for the boiling. The discarded water has the indigestible compounds that cause gas, and you can eliminate most gas by doing this. So don’t cook the beans in the soaking water.

  11. CJ says:

    This is TOTALLY my new favorite website – EVER!!!! :) Many blessings to you Miss Daisy.

  12. Dusty says:

    love that this is realistic canning. Who the heck wants to put up three pints of beans?

  13. Stephanie says:

    Did it ever occur to anybody that “starving the populace” started before Monsanto got a grip on our food supply?

    Eugenics, on a broad scale I suppose, was started when the UN was founded in 1941 or shortly thereafter. That’s when all of the NWO stuff started. Part of the NWO game plan has always been to reduce the population.

    At least four generations in my family alone, not counting all of the others I’ve met along the way, have been water bath canning since before the Great Depression without any problems at all. My husband’s mother water bath canned everything as well.

    And before any of you cry botulism, almost every botulism case has been caused due to stupidity and not from home canned foods. Actually, the majority of them came from commercially canned products or from people leaving beef stew and such on the back of the stove all night and eating it the next day without boiling it for 10 minutes (which is still required for all canned low-acid foods commercial or home canned).

    But to point out how ridiculous this fear mongering is, several years ago a young woman posted a question on the Dept. of Ag’s website. They had just changed the canning times on green beans.

    She said she had several hundred jars of green beans she had just canned before the new times came out. What should she do with them?

    The answer the Ag. dept. gave her was to throw it all away!

    Now according to the Ag. Dept. it was safe for the several decades of canning done prior to the new adjustment of time periods but now? Suddenly it’s toxic waste?

    While in Europe, during the Y2K scare, they were ridiculing us and asking if we had “canning police” because they were still water bath canning everything as well.

    It’s only been through fear mongers online lashing out at anybody that would dare voice that they still water bath canned everything that it has gone quietly away. But it hasn’t disappeared, people just don’t talk about it much online anymore because of the attacks.

    I know there will be backlash here too. But I will tell you this. Those pressure canners have to be inspected every year. Or, at least they are supposed to be to make sure the stems don’t get clogged up.

    During a disaster, or economic collapse, who do you reckon is going to inspect your canner?

    Especially, since anybody with a canner can be considered a terrorist these days. One fellow already had the police called on him for using a pressure canner. The video is on youtube.

    I’ll stick with my water bath canner.

  14. Janelle Tonini says:

    I just made the pork and beans recipe. I boiled the beans for 3 minutes and let them soak for 2 hours instead of soaking them over night. I canned them for One hour 15 minutes. The final product was mushy and the beans were falling apart. I’m not sure what I did wrong. Any sugestions???
    Thanks
    janelle

    • Daisy Luther says:

      Hi Janelle –

      I’m sorry that you didn’t have good results. The beans are definitely “well-cooked” when you complete this recipe but I’ve never had them be total mush. What kind of beans did you use? I generally use pintos (they’re a family favorite). The smaller the bean, the more “cooked” the final product will be – so if you use navy beans, get ready for bean soup. The only thing I can recommend would be to try a bigger firmer bean like red or white kidney.

      I hope this helps ~

      Daisy

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