In Gauge We Trust, And Green Beans Too
I find myself in one of those awkward moments where I’ve finished several projects and am starting a couple others. Its also that time of the year when I start harvesting from the garden. It’s now when you realize that the hard work has just shifted from the soil outside to the kitchen. One project I’m beginning is a bead crochet project and gauge is important for it. Done with crochet cotton (we used to call this bedspread cotton) #10 and a steel hook, I’ve found myself a bit challenged.
I learned to crochet with #10 crochet cotton and a steel hook, however, once I moved on to yarn and a larger hook, I never looked back. Until now, I found a beautiful beaded crocheted purse that I decided I had to have. Its done with single crochet stitches with a bead brought down in a pattern that creates a lovely design. It has a simple chart to keep track of beads, stitch count, increases and decreases. There’s a list of everything I need, all of which is not available in my area. The frame is unavailable, the crochet cotton is unavailable and the beads that are in my area are a different manufacture. I figure my gauge needs to be spot on or the design wont look right. It calls for 12 single crochet stitches per inch. That’s a tall order, I had to go down four sizes to get my 12th stitch. It also calls for an odd working on the foundation chain (work both top and bottom without joining??huh??). So rather than jump in on this project, I’ve taken some time to get my gauge correct and work on this odd technique. I find the tiny black thread very difficult to see also.
Working on my gauge and not jumping into a project this week is advantageous timing as my green beans are ready to be picked. I planted Blue Lake Bush Beans this year. Normally I plant pole beans and my harvest is steady and long, but not heavy unless I plant a a lot of them. I simply didn’t want to put all that support up for the pole beans and settled on bush. My first picking came and I got a fair amount. It nearly filled a wash tub. I decided to put them up in pints, as normally it’s just two of us eating and occasionally three. I’m getting a fair amount of yellow squash too, so we’re having green beans, squash and potatoes every day from the garden. Canning squash is a no-no, but canning green beans is a great way to preserve today’s harvest for tomorrows dinner without taking up all the room in my tiny freezer.
What I do first is wash all my jars and lids and ring-bands, more than I think I’ll need. Then I wash my green beans with a couple changes of water. I take off the ends, any strings I find and insect damage. I slice them to about 1.5 to 2 inches long. I love the look of long green beans, but they don’t fit in the jar well that way and I don’t care to stuff them in one by one. As I cut I measure by placing the ready to can beans in a pint jar and count as I go along. It looks like I have enough for 12 pints. I place my water bath canner on to boil with my 12 pints jars. I will pressure can the beans, but use the water bath to make and keep the jars hot. Place lids in scalding hot water, just below boiling to soften sealing compound.
I prefer to hot pack my vegetables, I think they look better in the jar and don’t float as much. Vegetables are full of air and when they’re cold packed then processed, the air is released and the head space needed for optimal storage has changed. For green beans you place your green beans in boiling water (enough to cover then) allow to boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Prepare one jar at a time, fill a jar with green beans, add 1/2 teaspoon pure salt, then pour cooking liquid over beans leaving a 1 inch head space. Wipe rim of jar with a damp cloth, place a sealing lid on top and screw on a ring band until it’s finger tight. Don’t over tighten, but have it secure. Place in water bath to keep warm, or in pressure canner with hot water to proper level (3 inches water when empty for mine). Move on to next jar. Avoid assembly line style canning, fill each jar and close with lid before moving on to the next. Keep each full jar warm before process begins.
I measured out just over 12 pints of beans, but was able to fill only 11. That’s how much shrinkage I got from that short 5 minute boil. Using the hot pack, my jars have more beans in them and the one inch head space is maintained. A lot of the excess air was removed prior to filling the jar. The jars are placed one at a time into my canner on a rack, never on the bottom of the canner. A second layer of jars is placed on an additional rack with the jars staggered. For my canner, 3 inches of water was added when it was empty. Once filled the lid goes on and pet cocks are tightened two at a time from opposite sides of the canner. The weight is left off and steam allowed to vent for 7 minutes, then the weight is added. Timing starts when proper pressure is reached and weight rocks 1 to 4 times a minute. Green beans are processed at 10 pounds pressure for 20 minutes for pints and 25 minutes for quarts at sea level. Then turn off heat and allow pressure to fall naturally. Then remove weight then lid, lift jars out and place on towel to cool. leave them alone for 24 hours. Then remove ring-bands, wash jars and label with contents and date. Yes, remove the ring-bands. It’s the processing, the seal and the vacuum that preserve. If the seal is compromised then the ring band isn’t going to keep the contents safe. Leaving the ring band on causes rust, and rust will compromise your seal and make some jars nearly impossible to open. My canner holds 19 pints. I’ll can larger harvests and freeze some smaller ones. 🙂 When the garden settles down, I’ll be ready for those new projects.
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