This page discusses canning plain dried beans. There’s a separate procedure for canning fresh beans.
There’s also a separate procedure for canning baked beans.
Tip! You don’t have to can all the same kind of dried beans in one go. If you have a large 23-quart canner in which you can double-deck, you could do 5 or 6 jars each of different varieties, so you’d be canning jars of kidney, pinto, chickpeas, etc, all at the same time. You could even, if desired, mix varieties of dried beans inside the jars.
Quantities of beans needed
Numbers are approximate guidelines.
- Allow 175 g (6 oz) dried beans per 1/2 litre (US pint) jar.
- Allow 350 g (3/4 lbs) dried beans per litre (US quart) jar.
A 1/2 litre (US pint) jar of home canned beans, drained, yields 300 g (10 oz) of cooked and ready to use beans.
The canning procedure for dried beans
Jar size choices: 1/4 litre (1/2 US pint) or 1/2 litre (1 US pint) or 1 litre (US quart)
Headspace: 3 cm (1 inch)
Processing pressure: 10 lbs (69 kPa) weighted gauge, 11 lbs (76 kpa) dial gauge (adjust pressure for your altitude when over 300 metres / 1000 feet)
Processing time: Half-litres (pints) 75 minutes; litres (quarts) 90 minutes
Here’s the USDA canning procedure for dried beans:
Place dried beans or peas in a large pot and cover with water. Soak 12 to 18 hours in a cool place. Drain water. To quickly hydrate beans, you may cover sorted and washed beans with boiling water in a saucepan. Boil 2 minutes, remove from heat, soak 1 hour and drain. Cover beans soaked by either method with fresh water and boil 30 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt per pint or 1 teaspoon per quart to the jar, if desired. Fill jars with beans or peas and cooking water, leaving 1-inch (2 cm) headspace. Adjust lids and process as recommended…”  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 4-5.
Note: the USDA Guide above says to soak them in a “cool place”. Another respected home-canning book, So Easy to Preserve, wants you to actually place the soaking beans in the refrigerator even: “cover and place in the refrigerator for 12 to 18 hours.” So Easy to Preserve, 2014, page 86
Processing guidelines below are for weighted-gauge pressure canner. See also if applicable: Dial-gauge pressures.
|Jar Size||Time||0 to 300 m (0 - 1000 feet) pressure||Above 300 m (1000 ft) pressure|
|1/4 litre (1/2 US pint)||75 mins||10 lbs||15 lbs|
|1/2 litre (1 US pint)||75 mins||10 lbs||15 lbs|
|1 litre (1 US quart)||90 mins||10 lbs||15 lbs|
How to pressure can.
When pressure canning, you must adjust the pressure for your altitude.
Beans or Peas – Shelled, Dried: All Varieties. In: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 4-5.
The USDA guidelines don’t mention the smaller 1/4 litre (1/2 US pint) size jar, but it’s fine to do so, and it’s really handy to have that size for mashing into dips and for recipes, etc. It just has to have the same processing time as the next tested size up.
The Ball Blue Book guidance is essentially the same as the USDA’s: presoak, then a simmer for 30 minutes, then can. (Blue Book, 37th edition, 2014 , page 111.)
Fresh water or simmering water?
The USDA Guide calls for using the cooking water as the canning liquid. So Easy to Preserve, 2014, page 86 calls for “boiling water”, which might mean fresh water.  Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014. Ball says you can use either “hot cooking liquid or boiling water.”
False short cuts
Some people think they’ve come up with a shortcut of putting dried beans right in a jar, topping up with water, and processing them through a pressure canner. They say this saves time; also they say that if they do soak and cook the beans first, the beans get too soft after pressure canning.
The danger is that you will run into density issues. You really have no idea how dry those dried beans are — as they get older, they get drier, and require more and more water to rehydrate. It’s very unpredictable, as all cooks know. We have no way of knowing how long the beans were on a container ship or in a warehouse before they reached our store’s shelf, and how long they sat there in the store before we bought them and brought them home.
With that background, it’s easy to understand the danger: the beans could very easily soak up too much of or even all the water right at the start in the jar, causing very poor heat penetration through the jar, meaning the jar will be underprocessed and there’s no guarantee that all the nasties were sterilized away.
Beans also release a lot of starch when they are cooking. A lot. (That’s one of the reasons they are great for thickening home-canned soups.) Consequently the density of the liquid in between the beans in the jar is increasing as they are processed, slowing heat penetration. Precooking them a bit gets rid of some of that starch, and ensures that the beans are piping hot at the start to help ensure good heat penetration.
So the official advice from the experts is, it’s not safe to just can dried beans straight from dry, they must be rehydrated and cooked a bit first. Canned beans at the store are expensive but they’re not that expensive, so it’s not worth the risk trying to take a canning shortcut here.
Plus you get more reliable quality results, to boot:
Some rogue home canners … are using a new method: half-filling the jars with dried beans, covering with boiling water to a 1/2 -inch head space, then proceeding straight to the pressure canner. In unscientific testing of my own, I found that pressure canning using that method gave inconsistent results; the freshness of the dried beans was a factor. Within a few months, canned older beans looked withered and loose in the jar, having absorbed all the glorious bean broth.”  Barrow, Cathy. What sold me on pressure-canning at home. Washington, DC: Washington Post. 27 January 2015.
The National Center issued this safety warning in May 2019:
” A safe process time is partially dependent on jar size and type of food, yes, but it is also partially dependent on the texture of the food, the temperature of the food and liquid, and the weight of the food filled into jars. Dry beans sitting in water at the start of the process time will not heat up at the same rate as beans prepared as described in the research-based method described above and in the USDA materials. The final sterilization of the jar contents achieved by the end of the process will not be the same as when the process is applied to jars filled as described in the recommended methods. People canning their dry beans by other methods, and especially by starting with dry beans in the jars, are taking a big risk on food spoilage and possibly botulism food poisoning. Those doing this and getting away with it have just been lucky – so far. I guess part of my message is do not expect me to endorse or support this method of filling jars for home canning of dry beans. If you choose to do it, you are taking a chance by your own decision.” Andress, Elizabeth. Canning Dry Beans: It Matters How They Go in the Jar. National Center for Home Food Preservation.
It is true that in many factories this may be how it is done — dried beans straight into the tin. But, they have the ability to control all these factors:
- just how dry and old the dried beans actually are, as well as the size and weight range of each bean;
- the exact tin size and shape;
- the exact quantity of beans that goes into each tin;
- the exact processing heat, exact processing time and exact cool-down time;
- and, they have controls to raise alarms when the slightest thing is amiss.
In home canning, we’ll just never ever have these kinds of industrial controls, so the home canning process was designed to cover all the different variables that take place in our kitchens.
Beans too soft after canning
Some people feel that the home canned beans can be too soft after canning for use in salads, etc.
That can vary. It can vary based on how old the dried beans were that you started with. First a warehouse stores them, then a store, then you. The older they are, the drier the beans will be, and the drier they are the longer it takes for them to absorb water. That’s exactly why recommendations have you both soak and pre-cook a bit, because they can’t predict for hundreds of millions of people just how fresh their dried beans are going to be on any particular day.
If you start with really old, hard dried beans, chances are you might end up with some home canned beans that are a bit firmer.
And buying them in tins from a store isn’t going to help: most people have the exact same “softness” complaint about store bought ones in tins.
The best way to assure yourself though, of “tender to the bite” beans for salads, is to pressure cook them. Use your pressure canner also makes a free, bonus, kick-butt pressure cooker. You can’t say you are afraid of pressure cooking if you are already pressure canning! Your pressure cooker manual should give times for them; if not, consult the dried bean cooking advice on a pressure cooking site such as hippressurecooking.com.
In this way, you can get the ideal texture of beans that you need for salad, quite quickly. This can be especially true of more delicate beans such as black (aka turtle) beans. And for something where the texture really is make or break, like a salad, it can be worth that special effort to pressure cook a one-off batch.
Preparing dried beans for soups
When you are preparing dried beans for use as an ingredient for use in the USDA “Your Choice” Soup recipe, the procedure is a little shorter, because you skip the 30 minute pre-simmer.
Just rehydrate, either via the overnight method, or the quick rehydrate. Then, bring to a boil, then drain. The beans are then ready to add to the soup mixture to be canned using the USDA recommended procedures.
The National Center for Home Food Preservation says, “You MUST fully rehydrate [dried beans or peas] first so as not to alter the measurement of water in the final products…. If you are using dried beans or peas, then add 3 cups water for each 1 cup of beans or peas, boil 2 minutes, and then remove from heat. Soak for 1 hour, then again heat to a boil, and drain.”  National Center for Home Food Preservation. Blog post: If you haven’t stored your pressure canner for the season. January 2013. Accessed March 2015.
It’s fine to add a sprinkle of dried herbs such as oregano, epazole or marjoram, or some onion flake or pepper flakes, to a jar of beans. See: Seasonings. Just bear in mind though that the plainer you can them, the more flexible they are when you open them.
Pressure cooker users may wonder why bother canning beans, since even uncooked beans can be cooked up so quickly in a pressure cooker. It’s really just a convenience thing, when you are frantically trying to throw together a dish or an emergency party dip you just got saddled with making on top of a bunch of other chores or when time is extremely limited.
To confirm and be clear, there is no safe option for home canning dried beans other than pressure canning already rehydrated beans: it is the only safe and guaranteed safe home canning method, regardless of what anyone says otherwise.
Why make your own home canned beans?
Buying cans of cooked beans such as kidney, pinto, chick peas, etc, ready to use can be expensive compared to dried beans. But, even though it’s more efficient to store dried beans in their dried state, we still all like the convenience when needed on busy days of grabbing some beans ready to use right then and there.
It’s really cheap and easy to make your own home pressure canned beans at home, and you can make them salt and preservative free.
Here’s an excerpt from a Washington Post article by Cathy Barrow on home canned beans.
Cooking beans via the pressure canner is my favorite way to go. The beans’ essence seems almost enhanced, with a velvety texture and exceptionally fresh, nuanced flavor. In the past month alone, I’ve made minestrone, black bean burritos, cassoulet, hummus and ribbolita. What I like best about them is their broth. Steve Sando, the effusive founder of online heirloom dried bean retailer Rancho Gordo, agrees: ‘The bean broth, to a bean person, is just as important as the bean. When you use commercial beans you have to wash it off.’
According to the Bean Institute, draining and rinsing commercially canned beans removes up to 41 percent of their sodium content. Of course, cooked, no-salt-added beans are more widely available now, as well as the new asceptically packaged beans. But none of them includes that creamy, flavorful broth. When you can your own beans at home, it’s possible to enjoy the broth and control, or eliminate, the salt. No bean recipe, whether it involves cooking up a pot on the stove to eat now or preparing them for canning, can escape a debate: to pre-soak or not to pre-soak. For canning, the National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends pre-soaking and simmering beans before pressure canning. …..
I pressure-can black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans and cannellini beans, as well as black-eyed peas, borlotti beans and my personal favorite, Rancho Gordo’s Moro bean, which is a sensational choice for refries. Garbanzos get a workout as hummus or chana masala. Tarbais are cassoulet-ready. Because all those beans take the same amount of time to pressure-can, it’s possible to process several varieties all at once — brilliant efficiency, to my mind. Most pressure canners hold seven quart jars or 19 pint jars, or about 3 1/2 pounds of dried beans, processed.”  Barrow, Cathy. What sold me on pressure-canning at home. Washington, DC: Washington Post. 27 January 2015.
Andress, Elizabeth. Canning Dry Beans: It Matters How They Go in the Jar. National Center for Home Food Preservation.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Complete guide to home canning. Agriculture information bulletin No. 539. 2015. Page 4-5.|
|2.||↑||So Easy to Preserve, 2014, page 86|
|3.||↑||Andress, Elizabeth L. and Judy A. Harrison. So Easy to Preserve. University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. Bulletin 989. Sixth Edition. 2014.|
|4.||↑||Barrow, Cathy. What sold me on pressure-canning at home. Washington, DC: Washington Post. 27 January 2015.|
|5.||↑||Andress, Elizabeth. Canning Dry Beans: It Matters How They Go in the Jar. National Center for Home Food Preservation.|
|6.||↑||National Center for Home Food Preservation. Blog post: If you haven’t stored your pressure canner for the season. January 2013. Accessed March 2015.|
|7.||↑||Barrow, Cathy. What sold me on pressure-canning at home. Washington, DC: Washington Post. 27 January 2015.|