Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pressure Canned Beans

This is the first post in a series of three on pressure canning. Pressure canners are relatively inexpensive (around $130) and can save you money in the long run by providing an economical way to can vegetables, beans, and other low-acid foods. Also, you don't have to worry about BPA in cans, and you can control the amount of salt that goes into the canned foods. 

This first instalment is canned beans--a convenient staple for any pantry. 

- 8 to 10oz dried beans per 1 litre/1 quart jar (see note below)
- boiling water
- canning jars with lids and rings
- pressure canner (I use a dial gauge canner)

1. Rinse then soak beans in plenty of water overnight. My canner holds 7 jars, so I soak at least 3.5 lbs of beans. Or, follow the directions on the bad for quick soaking. I prefer the overnight soak. No need to do all one kind of bean--the picture above shows chickpeas, pinto beans, and black beans getting ready for the canner. 
2. On canning day, sterilise your jars. Get the water to boiling in your pressure canner--follow the directions that came with your canner. Keep your rings and lids in hot but not boiling (82 C) water.

3. Drain beans, rinse, then add 16 to 20oz of beans per sterilised jar (see note below).

4. Fill the jars with boiling water, leaving 1" headspace.
5. Place lids on jars, then tighten rings finger tight. I have found that finger tight is pretty darn tight. It's as tight as you can get the ring on without using the palm of your hand. If your lid is too loose, liquid will seep out of jar during processing. 
6. Place jars into the pressure canner. Close and seal the lid.

7. Bring to boiling. Let the water boil for a good 10 mins--the steam should be shooting out of the vent pipe with gusto.

8. Place the pressure regulator over the vent pipe. Bring the pressure up to 11 lbs. This takes a little finesse. Lower heat will give you lower pressure, so when the gauge reaches 8 lbs I turn the heat down from high to med-lo so that it reaches 11 but does not blow past it. You will need to fiddle a bit to find out what heat keeps the pressure at a constant 11 lbs.
9. Process the jars for 90 minutes. If the pressure drops below 11 you will need to get it back up to 11 and start the timer again. 
10. When done, remove the canner from the heat. Allow it to cool and the pressure to go to zero. 

11. Remove the canner lid and remove the jars, being careful not to tilt the jars or touch the lids. Allow to fully cool, then check to make sure all the lids have sealed. 

NOTE: Aquafaba is all the rage these days. 20oz of beans per jar comes out of the canner looking like the pic above. After the beans have cooled, the aquafaba gets more viscous. I use if for mayonnaise (delicious!). If you want a thinner aquafaba, use 16oz to 18oz of soaked beans per litre/quart jar. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Creamy Beans on Toast

We are having an actual spring this year--regular rain and cool nights. It's days like these that make me seek out something warm, hearty and comforting. Best to enjoy this dish before it gets too hot. 

- 1/4 cup margarine, or oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp tarragon
- 2 cups diced cremini mushrooms
- 1 tbsp light tamari or soy sauce
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 2.5 to 3 cups warm vegetable stock
- 1 19oz can mixed beans, rinsed and drained (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
- salt and pepper to taste

- toast

1. Heat margarine or oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 5-7 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. 
2. Add the tarragon and the mushrooms with a pinch of salt. Sauté for 3-5 mins, or until the mushrooms begin to soften. Add tamari and cook for another 5 mins. The mushrooms should be soft.
3. Add flour and mix well. Cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. 
4. Stream in 1.5 cups of the stock, stirring constantly so that the sauce remains smooth.
5. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. (NOTE: I do this because my kids are picky about pieces of mushroom. You can blend just half of the mixture.)
6. Return the blended mixture to the pan, add the remaining stock, the beans, and the peas. Bring to bubbling, stirring constantly. 
7. Serve over thick slices of toasted hearty bread. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Eggless Pasta

This is the aquafaba version of my Fresh Flax Pasta. I'm not sure it's any better than the original, but it is durable yet tender and tasty. The trick here is to add flour as needed when you are rolling out the dough. The final product should be smooth and satiny, not tacky at all. This is most important if you are cutting the dough into thin noodles with a pasta cutter. It is a little less important if you are cutting the dough by hand into broad noodles. Give the noodles a good drying before you cook them.

Makes 1 lb 
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup plain soy milk
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 cup chickpea aquafaba
- 1 tbsp oil

1. Whisk together flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
2. Mix turmeric into the soy milk. Pour into the well in the flour. Add aquafaba and oil. Bring together into a dough (I do this with a dough hook in my stand mixer). Add more soy milk if absolutely needed.
3. Roll into a log and wrap in plastic. Let rest 20 mins.
4. Roll out, flouring as needed, and cut as desired. Let dry before cooking.

This pasta cooks very quickly--just a minute or two and it's done.