Ok, so my mom and I decided awhile ago to can beans this past Monday. When she looked in her canning book, the recipe for beans was to pressure cook them for 90 minutes. Ninety minutes! Well, we decided that there had to be a better way, so she talked to some of her friends. One gave her a recipe that didn’t require even a hot water bath…just boiling the beans in some vinegar water for awhile and then sealing them similar to how you do jams or jellies. Another of her friends told her to not *ever* not pressure cook beans, because there was an entire family that she heard of who died from beans that weren’t pressure cooked. So…..yeah. That’s two very different pieces of knowledge that we had to work with.
So, I went to the Extension Office website to look for their recommendations for beans. What I found out surprised me. Apparently there are botulism spores that are all over…in the ground, on your garden plants, and yep – on your vegetables. If you don’t cook them at super-high temperatures to kill them or have a recipe that creates enough acidity, it can, in fact make you very sick. Luckily we had a recipe with vinegar in it, so we were able to use it. We also tried an Amish recipe that mom found on the Internet. When she got her pressure cooker/canner out, she looked in the book that came with it and it said that we could use a simple water recipe that we would normally use and only pressure cook it for 20 minutes. Win!
Well, we tried all of the recipes, and the one with the vinegar water was simply delicious. We also dehydrated some, and though I haven’t tried them my mom said they are wonderful too. I admit I’ve still got some in my fridge to snap and throw in our dehydrator…I’m excited, just haven’t had the time.
All of this has really got me thinking…who figured out all this stuff? I mean, did they know in the 1800’s that if they canned non-acidic vegetables that they needed to use a pressure cooker to get them hot enough or they at least needed to acidify them (if that’s even a word – ha!)? Wait – maybe they didn’t actually preserve things back then…I wonder when home-preserving was invented? I know I could, but no, I'm not taking the time to look it up. Ok, so, whenever it was invented, who figured out all this stuff? Seriously – I never even would have thought about it. I guess that’s why the world needs really smart people…and today I’m very grateful for them.