We recently (finally) purchased a stove for the new house and I am thrilled to be able to cook and bake normally again. The only catch is it’s propane and not electric. We chose it on purpose and I don’t have any problems with cooking on propane but canning was a whole new game. I learned how to can on an electric stove and admit I was a little apprehensive about having to deal with the learning curve of electric vs propane stoves when it came to pressure canning.
I’ve gone 7 months without canning anything and the withdrawals were getting serious. At least, serious enough to motivate me into canning up some pinto beans up 2 days after the stove was installed. I chose beans as my first canning session on the new stove in the new house because:
- They’re inexpensive. If something goes wrong, the loss is minimal.
- They’re super easy to do and take very little prep time (see below for how I can dry beans!).
- We only have one jar left in the pantry and we eat them about once a week in various dishes.
So I’m off! I get everything I need ready to go and load the canner up with 7 pints. Normally, I would fill my awesome canner to capacity but since this was a trial run and I didn’t want to lose a bunch of jars, I went with less. Noting the time, I fire the stove up and then sit down to wait for it to start boiling so I can vent it for 10 minutes. Drop the knocker on and then sit back to wait for it to get close to 11 pounds of pressure. A mere 6 minutes after putting the knocker on, I’m at pressure! It took 26 minutes from the time I turned the stove on to being at pressure and starting my timer for the beans. I.Couldn’t.Believe.It.
Canning on a propane stove is faster to get to pressure, easier to control, and is more cost effective!
Anyone who has canned on an electric stove knows that it’s a yoyo game of trying to dial in the right temperature. Even after you get used to what setting the knob should be on to maintain constant pressure, it still takes tweaking and sometimes just sitting there while it processes. Heat is constantly coursing around the coils, ebbing and flowing, which can make the pressure drop below the desired number.
Speaking of hitting and maintaining the second number, I have never been able to really keep it at 11 pounds of pressure. By the time I would get things equalized out, it would be at 12 or 13 but I didn’t want to fiddle with it and just left it. Pressure canning on a propane stove doesn’t require such constant babysitting, I’m thrilled to say! I was able to set it and leave it be for 20 minutes before checking on it. When I came back, it had risen a little bit but not enough to do anything about. I checked half an hour after that and it had risen to a little over 12 pounds so I lowered the flame a smidge. On the third check (now 1 hour and 15 minutes in), it had lowered back down to 11 pounds and that was it! Before, I would basically sit in the kitchen the entire time, no matter how long it took for processing (meat also takes a long time).
My overall experience mirrors others I’ve read about: pressure canning on electric vs. propane stoves is a no brainer! Propane is the clear choice between the two. I didn’t realize it but I learned how to do it the hard way first so switching over to propane truly felt like a breeze. It’s not only (much!) faster for getting to pressure, it’s also easier to control and uses less energy. Our tank of propane will last us over a year versus paying the electric bill monthly that used to get pretty high during the harvest and heavy canning season. You don’t have to move the heavy canner off the burner when it’s done processing, either. Just turn the propane off. It seemed to lose pressure more quickly, too. Could be because there is more air underneath it than on an electric stove. If you have the choice, go propane.
“What’s the catch?”, you might ask. Well, you need to do it in an area where the wind won’t be blowing the flame around. That can make it fluctuate more than you’d like, which I learned from having the fan on when it first came to pressure. Also, you need to have a burner that will get low enough (tiny flame) to keep the pressure steady. Most propane burners have an additional flame adjustment, check the manufacturer’s information to make sure you do it right.
Other than that, there really are no “cons” to pressure canning on a propane stove and plenty of “pros.” I’m hooked!
Pressure Canning Dry Beans
As promised, here is how I pressure can my beans. Please note that, as my canning friend over at Simply Canning says, “There are no canning police!” Use good judgement and safe practices when canning any food to avoid getting sick. That being said, my method for canning dry beans varies a little from what my canning book says. It says for “dry beans,” you are to boil them for two minutes and then soak for an hour before processing. I skip that step.
I usually can jars of beans as a filler to ensure my canner is always full when I process a batch to maximize the energy used compared to what I get out of it. Plus, it is very fast to fill the jar and add it to the canner if you find you have extra space. The seasonings and added ingredients to the jars are my own preferences. Due to the length of processing time, any vegetable you want to toss in there will be plenty cooked through, too. Be careful what spices you use when canning though, as some will make your food inedible!
Dry beans – Pinto, kidney, northern, navy, lima…you get the idea.
Vegetables – Carrots, onion, celery
Seasonings – Pepper, basil, rosemary, garlic, etc. I personally never use salt unless I am canning salmon.
For Pint Jars
Measure a heaping 1/3rd cup of the dry beans into the jar. Add in your vegetables but keep in mind that you don’t want to fill the jar more than halfway. Just under half is best, due to the expansion of the beans. Add seasonings: always add less than you think you should. It’s easier to add more than to take away. Fill with water, leaving 1 inch headspace as normal. I like to use my homemade vegetable stock (if I have enough). Process for 75 minutes at the pressure suited for your elevation. Under 1,000 feet is 11 pounds pressure.
For Quart Jars
Measure out a heaping 1/2 cup or slightly less than 3/4 cup dry beans. Follow the same instructions as for pints but increase your processing time to 90 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure if under 1,000 above sea level.
BONUS: We love to pressure can meals in a jar that include meat, beans, carrots and onions, garlic, and other fresh edibles from the garden and so can you!