Canning in April

I’ve always loved beans, but my mother, not so much. When you grow up poor and one of a dozen children, as she did, beans are always on the menu. But she knew we loved them, and it was a real treat when she made her chili beans.

Beans are one of the cornerstones of my diet, along with whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. My man isn’t quite as fond of all-things-beans as I am, but there are a couple of things he welcomes on the menu. One is my home-canned blackeyed peas. The other is our pantry version of black beans and corn salsa.

If you’re a prepper, you know dry beans store well. For the long haul, it isn’t necessary to can them. For the short term, though, a few jars of canned beans and peas in the cabinet sure make meal planning easier. Whether you buy them from the grocery store and can them yourself depends on your circumstances and your taste. I prefer my home-canned beans in glass jars.

Whether you can fresh beans or bags of dried beans from the grocery also depends on circumstances. I do both.

I shelled and canned a bushel of purple hull peas last summer.  Fresh peas need to be processed quickly.  Even partially dried ones can mold on you.  They can be canned or frozen. The frozen ones still require some cooking time, but they are a good choice for people who limit salt.

The 24 pints of canned peas I got from that bushel didn’t last long, and I found myself buying bags of blackeyed peas at the grocery store to can mid-winter.

We eat blackeyed peas at least once a week. I just open the jar, heat the peas, and serve them with cornbread.

To make Mama’s Chili Beans, I open a jar of my canned pintos, add a teaspoon of Williams Chili Seasoning, and heat. When I serve it, I add a few teaspoons of salsa to the bowl. Yep, it’s that simple.

You can serve chili beans over rice or with cornbread. They also make good tostados.

To make our Pantry Black Bean Salsa, I rinse and drain a can (or pint jar) of black beans and drain a pint of my whole kernel corn (or thaw a pint of frozen corn). I toss them together with a cup of salsa, cover it, and let it sit in the fridge to chill and marinate.

Serve the salsa with tortilla chips or tortillas. If you have fresh cilantro, so much the better! And don’t let anyone tell you that chips and salsa are not a complete meal!