Canning Series: Half-Runners

My dear friend Ginny called me Thursday night to go pick half runners at her friend's house in Yellow Springs. Well, Thursday was not a very good day for me and the temperatures hit a hot and steamy 95 with a heat index over 100. I asked Ginny if we could wait until Friday night after I got off from work. So, last night we headed out to Yellow Springs. It was still hot and steamy, but a few degrees cooler than Thursday night. I must say it was a labor of love because who in their right mind would want to go out into a garden with the temperatures very high, bugs flying around, and tackling the beans winding along the ground inter-twined with weeds a couple of feet high. The answer is simple. People who are dedicated to eating organic home grown foods. As soon as we arrived at Peggy's house and got out of the car, Peggy asked where were our long jeans, long sleeved shirts, and boots? Ginny was in shorts, a tank, and garden clogs. I was in cropped pants, a t-shirt, and my grass cutting tennis shoes. Ginny and I just looked at each other and laughed. We headed out into the bean patch with five gallon buckets. I opted to bring a second bucket to sit on while I picked beans. We laughed at each other, told stories, and wiped a lot of sweat off our foreheads. Ginny wasn't feeling very well and went to rest. The bucket I was sitting on collapsed and I tumbled onto a pile of mud and weeds. Then I got up to move down the bean patch a little further when my foot got caught in some weeds and I walked right out of my shoe and landed in another pile of mud. The sweat was running off of my face so fast my glasses were covered and my t-shirt was soaked. I didn't have a dry spot left on my shirt to wipe my face. However, we pressed forward. When we finished two hours later my face was red, my hands were green and brown, my nails were chipped, my clothes were soaked, I had mud on my shoes, and my hair was wet and super curly. I was starving. It was about 8:45 p.m. when we quit. I picked up a pizza on the way home for dinner and was embarrassed to walk in to pick it up. I apologized for my appearance. I went home, ate pizza, showered, and fell into bed.

This morning we woke up early and tackled the beans. We got in the groove. Breaking, washing, sorting, and prepping the beans.   We selected the best beans and washed them several times and set them off to the side to drain.  This is the first step to canning your half runners.

  • Examine canning jars for nicks, cracks and uneven edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage.  Examine canning lids to ensure they are free of dents and sealing compound is even and complete.  Check bands for proper fit.
  • Wash jars and two piece caps in hot, soapy water or run them through the dishwasher ahead of time so they are coming out just as they are drying with the heat setting.   (I do this in lieu of heating the jars in simmering water.) If you hand wash, rinse well.  Dry bands.  Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering water (180 degrees).  DO NOT BOIL.   Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until they ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.  (I remove one at a time out of the hot dry cycle of the dishwasher.)
  • At this point you can select if you would like to cold pack or hot pack your beans.  I will give instructions for both, but my preference is to cold pack.
  • Cold Pack -- Pack beans tightly into hot canning jars leaving one inch head space.  Add one teaspoon canning salt to each quart.
  • Cover with boiling water leaving one inch headspace.
  • Hot pack--Cover beans with boiling water; boil five minutes.  Remove beans from cooking water.  Add one teaspoon salt per quart jar, 1/2 teaspoon per pint.  Carefully pack hot beans into hot jars, leaving one inch headspace.  Carefully ladle boiling water over beans, leaving one inch headspace.
  • Slide a nonmetallic spatula between green beans and jar; press back gently on beans to release trapped air bubbles.  Repeat procedure two to three times around inside of jar.  Wipe rim and threads of jar with a clean, damp cloth.  Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand.  Place lid on jar, centering sealing compound on rim.  Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met -- fingertip tight.
  • As each jar is filled, set it onto the rack in the steam-pressure canner.  The canner should contain two to three inches of hot water; keep water at a simmer (180 degrees) until all filled jars are placed in the canner.  Check the water level; add boiling water if necessary.  (I use three quarts of water and two tablespoons of vinegar.)
  • Put lid onto canner and turn to lock lid in place.  Adjust heat; bring water to a boil.  Leave vent open until steam has escaped steadily from vent for 10 minutes.  Put weight on vent.
  • Bring pressure to 10 pounds for altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level.  When using a dial guage, or for higher altitude areas, refer to an Altitude Chart.  Keep pressure steady during entire processing period.  WATCH CLOSELY AND ADJUST TEMPERATURE IF NECESSARY.  Process pints 20 minutes, quarts 25 minutes.  When processing is complete turn off heat.
  • Let canner return to zero pressure naturally.  Wait two minutes, then open vent.  Unfasten lid; raise canner lid toward you, allowing steam to escape in opposite direction.  Lift off lid.  Let jars sit in canner 10 minutes to adjust to the lower temperature.  Remove jars from canner and set them upright, one to two inches apart, on a dry towel to cool.  Do not retighten bands.  Let jars cool 12 to 24 hours.
  • After jars have cooled, check lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid.  If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips.  If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off, the lid has a good vacuum seal.  Wipe off lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue.  Label.  Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.
  • Remember during this process to add love.

The only thing left to do is to open a jar in the near future and enjoy them with your dinner!

City Girl