As you can see, one cup of cooked pinto beans with water and salt packs a powerful punch, thus our preference for it. It is often said that beans and rice make the perfect protein. We don’t eat rice, but we do eat wheat in the form of sourdough bread or tortillas. We prefer wheat to rice for the comparative nutritional value the wheat provides.
We have a number of buckets of pinto beans that we have had for at least 10 years, which by the way, came from the LDS Home Storage Center in Oklahoma City. We bought in bulk and stored in our own buckets with Gamma Seal lids. If you’re not aware, LDS stands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or commonly called Mormons. I have long thought theses beans would be too hard to cook and eat, and that is true. I also thought they would be too hard to can. This is one of those instances that I was more than happy to be wrong.
Last winter I wanted to get more pintos canned and on the shelf for everyday eating, and to have if the country and world went south. I bought several four pound bags from Wal-Mart, before the virus when they were still available, and we canned a batch of 32 pints. Then recently, we decided to find out if those old beans were still usable. We put three pounds of beans in eight quarts of water and brought them to a boil in the late afternoon. Let them boil for five minutes, then let them sit until morning. I turned the fire on low when I got up around 6:00am and let them simmer until morning chores were done and we were ready to fire up the canner. Here are both types of beans. Both great, on the shelf and ready to eat. The 2010 beans turned out great, good texture and flavor. The older beans are on the left and the Wal-Mart beans are on the right in this picture. Some of the benefits of having beans canned and ready to go is that if you want a quick meal, or the world doesn’t allow time to cook a pot of beans, you have nutrition, water and salt ready to nurture your body.
This summer one of my goals is to grow, harvest and can as many pinto beans as possible. In a survival scenario we need calories for energy and adequate protein. Pinto beans provide 245 calories per cup, a healthy form of carbohydrates that does not cause an insulin spike with a quick drop off in energy, and a good level of protein. In my books, an excellent form of nutrition any time.
Our first harvest of beans yielded 10 1/2 pounds from about two 30 foot rows of plants. Now this is not equivalent to the same weight of dry beans because they were fresh. Some were partially dried, but most still retained a lot of moisture. We canned 32 pints with enough beans left over for another 3 pints. I was very pleased with the yield and hope the plants will continue to bloom and provide another harvest or two before fall.
To can fresh or dried beans, we bring them to a boil the evening before, then let them sit overnight. In the morning, simmer until ready to can. We use the liquid from the pot to fill the jars. In pint jars, fill with beans about 2/3 full, add 1/2 tsp. non-iodized salt, fill to within 1/2″ of the top with bean liquid, then pressure can at 10 pounds for 40 minutes. This timing comes from our Stocking Up canning book.
|Jacob’s Cattle Beans|
Something I learned about canning fresh beans as opposed to dried beans. Fresh beans tend to be much softer when you cook or can them. I prefer a bean with a more firm texture, like the old beans and the Wal-Mart beans. We grew Jacob’s Cattle beans a few years back. It’s another shell bean very similar to a pinto. We also canned them fresh and they were much softer, just like the pintos we just harvested and canned. I always thought the softness was just the nature of the Jacob’s bean and never thought about the difference in canning fresh instead of dried. Accidental learning can be a very interesting teacher. Now, instead of canning our next harvest fresh, I will dry them first and see if I can get the type of canned bean I prefer instead of the softer variety. One benefit of the soft beans is the ease at making a type of refried bean for tortillas. By the way, if you have trouble finding pinto bean seed to plant, the ones from Wal-Mart work just fine.
A few years back we tried a different method of canning beans we had read somewhere. In quart jars we added dried pinto beans to half of the jar, filled with boiling water and 1 tsp. salt, then canned according to recommended time (I don’t remember now how long.) They were tough and crunchy. I don’t know how old the beans were or any other details, but we found out for us, this process didn’t work.
|Ground pork, pintos & salsa with sauteed cabbage|
There are many different ways to add beans to a meal for a nutritional boost. I’ve already mentioned refried beans and a bowl of beans. You can add them to soup or to just about any dish. Like this. But folks, nutrition and energy is, and will be the name of the game as our future continues to unfold. I pray the day never comes that I can’t sit in my comfortable, air conditioned home and type on a computer on the internet. Just how much infrastructure has to remain in place for me to continue doing this? How long will it last?
We will never forget someone asking us why we go to all this work to raise and preserve our harvest. Why do all that work when you can just buy it at the store, they asked. Because now you have a hard time finding or affording the humble pinto bean at the store. Grow it or buy it, food is of utmost importance right now for everyone. Like I’ve said before, regardless of the events surrounding us, peace or anarchy, without food, you are dead.
Until next time – Fern