Canning 101: Black Beans

Yesterday it was time to can the black beans I’ve been collecting in my cupboard. Yes, I think I’ve had a theme going this week, but it was kind of slow at work – at least at the beginning of the week when I decided this was the week to get some canning done. Of course, as soon as I embarked on this adventure, the work came in, and I was swamped. 🙂

I’d snagged a good deal on about 5 pounds of dried black beans at the grocery store a while back. I put black beans in my chili, and I also like to make a corn and black bean salad/salsa in the summer, so these beans will definitely come in handy. Plus, if they’re canned, I know we’ll eat them. When they sit in the cupboard in those bags, they always seem to get passed over for something else.

I’ve discovered that canning dried beans is easy peasy, and I don’t think I’ll ever buy canned beans at the store again. It’s way cheaper to can your own dried beans, and I like the fact that I don’t have to add salt to the pints unless I want to. Don’t tell Kevin, but that’s what I did! He’s a salt-a-holic. 🙂

Start off by rinsing and sorting the beans – you’ll find rocks, twigs, and just about anything, and you definitely don’t want that going into your jars! Soak the dried beans overnight. Since I was doing 5 pounds at once, I used my huge canning stockpot. Cover the beans with cold water, about 2-3 inches over the top of the beans. Mine soaked up a lot of the water before I went to bed, so I just added more cold water to have the 2-3 inches extra.

In the morning, drain the beans. You’ll be surprised how dirty these beans are! Put the beans back in your stockpot, and cover with fresh cold water. Put on the stove and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 30 minutes at this gentle boil – not a hard boil, or the beans will split.

Fill pint jars approximately 3/4 full with the cooked beans, and add the cooking water (or boiling water if you prefer) just to cover the beans. Leave a 1-inch headspace. Place lids and rings; tighten just to finger tight.

Process pints in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

I worked up 5 pounds of dried black beans, and I ended up with 20 pints – a full canner for me. 🙂

Canning 101: Chili Beans

I”ll admit it. We’re a bean family. We eat beans in just about every form, from green beans we grow and can every summer to kidney beans, Lima beans….and chili beans. We love chili, especially when the guys are lucky during deer season. Venison chili is the absolute best.

While I’ve canned just about everything under the sun, I’ve never really canned any kind of beans outside of green beans. My mom, mother-in-law, sisters-in law all canned green beans, but I don’t remember any of them canning dried beans. I did can baked beans last summer and again yesterday, which are a big hit in my family by the way, but I decided to do an Internet search about canning dried beans – and boy, did I find tons of information and recipes on how to can them!

I always have lots of dried beans in my cupboard, but let’s face it, they’re a pain in the behind to use. You have to remember to soak them the night before you want to use them – and I usually forget and end up doing the quick 2-minute boil, let them set and then cook them down. However, if I canned up all these dried beans that are taking over my cupboard, I’d have ready-to-use (and ready-to-eat) beans whenever I wanted them. It was my “duh” moment – why hadn’t I thought of this years ago and saved myself tons of hassle??

There’s a grocery store near us in West Liberty that caters to its Mexican community, and aside from getting some really great deals on beef roasts, they stock big bags of dried beans, so I came home with 4 pounds of dried pintos and 4 pounds of dried black beans. The pintos are what I used in my chili bean recipe, and the black beans will be used later, canned plain so I can use them in lots of different recipes.

I found the recipe on the Simply Homemaking blog after a search on Pinterest for different recipes. I doubled the spice blend since I was using 4 pounds of dried beans, and I also added a couple tablespoons of chipotle powder because we like a spicy chili. I didn’t have any coriander, and I didn’t use the oregano it called for.



Seasoning Mix For Chili Beans:  (for a single batch of 8 pints):
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 more teaspoons sea salt to add to the jars

Soak the pinto beans overnight, drain them the next day, and add them to a large stockpot and cover them with fresh water. Cook at a gentle boil for 30 minutes. Add the cooked pinto beans to clean pint jars, filling the jars approximately 3/4 full. Add 2 teaspoons of the spice blend to each jar. Add some of the cooking water to each jar, leaving 1-inch headspace. Add lids and rings. Process in a pressure canner for 75 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

I ended up with 17 pints of delicious chili beans – and now I know how easy it is to make my own chili beans. I can control the spice blend, and I don’t have to worry about what else may be lurking inside those store-bought cans. Win-win for me 🙂

Spring Is Here – The Chicks Have Arrived!

Spring is officially here in the Wood household – our baby chicks arrived! We used to raise chickens every year, but it’s been a few since we’ve done that, and I’m excited to have little peepers again.




We ordered 50 of the little fuzz balls, and 54 were sent. All was well until this morning, however, as Kevin said we lost our first one 🙁  We usually lose a few along the way, but it’s still sad even though we expect it.

Kevin has been busy revamping the chicken coop in preparation for these little guys. A couple of window panes needed fixed, and the coop needed cleaning out (we store garden stuff in there sometimes). And we’ve got to build the outside pen for them still, but with a few nice warmer spring days, that shouldn’t take Kevin and the boys very long to do.

We’ve also gotten a few garden seeds planted, and a few are even up. Kevin started cauliflower, celery, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and, of course, tomatoes and ground cherries. I think all but the celery is up, but either way, we’re that much closer to stuff in the garden!!

Of course, we have tons of seeds left to plant, mostly those that we start directly in the garden, and I have a ton of herbs that I’m going to find permanent places for this year. Last year I grew my herbs in pots, but this year I’m hoping to have permanent places closer to the house so I can pick and cut as I need when I’m cooking or brewing up some sort of concoction.




Spring is such a fun time. Everything is young and new, and just knowing that soon I can be scratching in the dirt and soon have something to can for the family is a great feeling 🙂

Lifestyle Changes

It’s been a while since I last posted, but I’ve definitely been keeping busy. I quit my long-time job last fall, one I’d been with for almost 9 years, to start a freelancing gig as an editor and writer. Scary stuff indeed! The change has been good for me and definitely less stress for the most part.

The other lifestyle changes happening really started last year with this blog and getting back to gardening. I wanted a healthier life for me and my family. We got back to what we’d done for years but had put on hold for a bit – eating healthy foods we grew ourselves. Last year I canned and froze more produce than I had in years, and boy was it nice this winter going to the cupboards and freezers to get something for dinner!

This year we’ve gone big again with the garden. Seeds are started by the windowsill waiting for that big replant day outside – still don’t have the greenhouse but we’re working on it! I’ve taken stock in what is left in our canning cupboard – what worked, what we ate, what we haven’t touched with a 10-foot pole. I have a bunch of new recipes just waiting to be tried, and I’m looking forward to all the experiments again (sorry family!).

Probably the biggest lifestyle change, other than what I’m eating, is I’ve discovered essential oils. I originally was looking for scents for my soaping adventure (that will be another post!), but what I discovered with my research is the health benefits of essential oils.

Those who know me know I have fibromyalgia, lupus, hypothyroidism, and now pretty bad knee osteoarthritis. Those who know me have seen me try just about everything out there, from following the advice and prescriptions from my rheumatologist and PCP, to all the extra supplements and diets that supposedly work to improve the symptoms – and that’s the key for me, I think. They only helped with the symptoms, not the actual problem. So I failed with all the above treatments. I could hardly move, had “fibro fog” brain issues where I couldn’t remember s**t. I gained weight because I couldn’t move because I was exhausted – the usual realm of symptoms one has with these lovely diagnoses.

Last fall I went to my orthopedist, who told me that yes, I have a pretty good case of knee arthritis and to plan on a knee replacement fairly soon down the road. He offered me steroid injections (been there, done that), which I refused. I’ve had enough steroids thank you very much. So I hobbled on home defeated. I’m only 48, and while I may feel 84 on some days, I am not ready for knee replacement surgery.

So….as I was searching for fragrances for my big soaping adventure, I was reading a homesteading blog that I follow for all kinds of helpful homesteading tips, recipes, and what-have-yous, and I saw a post about essential oils. I clicked on it, read it and made a note of it. It sounded good, but that’s about all I did. A few months later, Kevin (who also follows this same blog) saw the post about the oils and said I should look into it – so I took another look.

This time I contacted the lady to ask her about essential oils, and I am ever so grateful I did. It has been life changing for me. Not only have I been able to kick my prescription drug habit to the curb, I don’t think I’ll be needing that knee replacement anytime soon. I can go up and down the stairs like a “normal” person instead of taking “granny steps” one at a time, praying my knee doesn’t give out on me. I have more energy to do things now. I still notice twinges of knee pain on occasion, especially after riding in the truck for very long, but all in all, what I’ve found has given me a new lease on life.

With my improved knee pain and ability to move, I’ve also gotten back on the exercise bandwagon. Again, those who know me know I hate to exercise, but at least now I can go for a walk and try to get rid of some of this medication-induced weight gain. I’m looking forward to getting out in the garden and working outside – and going up and down the stairs during canning season.

The biggest change for me, however, is I have a renewed sense of hope. Hope that I can overcome these diseases that have plagued me for over 10 years. Hope that I am getting better – I feel like a new person, or at least the old person I used to be 20 years ago. I’ve made positive changes in my life, and all it took was one little email to someone I didn’t know, who has introduced me to something amazing.

I’m one of the biggest skeptics out there, believe me. I don’t believe anything unless I see it for myself or try it myself and notice a change. I tried these oils and supplements just “knowing” nothing could help me because, of course, I’d already tried “everything” already, and nothing had helped before. After 1 week – yes, I said 1 week – of being on a suggested supplement, I was a believer. And I’ll never, ever be without this product again. It’s that life changing. Really. Truly. Life changing. If you, dear reader, want that same life-changing experience, send me a message or comment below. Even if you’re a skeptic like I was. You’ll thank yourself in the end.