Saturday, October 8, 2011

Store Garden Produce #3-How to Dry Mushrooms & Dry Beans Storage

During my 30 + years of gardening experience, I have encountered many situations where I have had to improvise in order to adjust to the changes within our environment to accommodate my plants needs. I have adjusted and learned so much and would like to share my experience and success, as well as my "mishaps" along the way. This article is not inclusive and should be shared with Parts 1 & 2 of this series. (See Below)

Dry Beans Storage: Beans can be stored in moisture-resistant, air-tight containers. With proper preparation before storage, they can last up to 30 years. Dried beans are best stored without the presence of oxygen and light. Oxygen will cause the oil produced from the beans to become rancid. Light will quickly discolor the beans. Neither is compatible with long-term storage. Furthermore, colder storage temperatures as well as low humidity will enhance and prolong shelf life.

Beans stored in food grade, polyethylene bags have about a one-year life span. This situation is commonly found in most commercialized products and is not a suitable storage containment option over the long term.

Canning dried beans: I first make sure that the inside of the jars are washed and thoroughly dried. Remember- moisture breeds decay- quickly. Oxygen absorbent packets should be added to the jars to remove oxygen and to extend shelf life.

Fill the jars about 95% full and make sure that the gasket on the lid is in good condition. Close the jar tightly then store in a cool, dry, dark place. Note: Oxygen absorber packets should be kept in a sealed container until ready for use. Only remove as needed within a 20 to 30 minute time frame.

If you are using plastic buckets, first place one ounce of dry ice per gallon in the bottom of the bucket. Pour the beans over the dry ice to within one inch of the top. Place the lid on the bucket but do not completely seal it until the dry ice has dispersed.When the bottom of the bucket begins to feel warmer, place the lid on tightly. If it begins to bulge after a few minutes, open slightly to release the pressure. Watch to make sure the pressure has subsided-this might take several days for accuracy. As a precaution-do not stack your buckets more than three high as the weight could damage the lower containers.

How to freeze beans: Frozen dried beans will only last for about 2-3 months.As a general rule of thumb, for every pound or 2 cups of dried beans, use 6 cups of water to re-hydrate. Pour the appropriate amount of beans and water into a large cooking pot. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp of oil and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil then cover the pot and allow it to simmer. Always make sure that the beans are completely covered by adding additional hot water when needed. The amount of cooking time will vary with the type of bean cooked. This could be as little as 30 minutes up to 3 hours. The beans are finished when they are just about tender, but not quite. If you completely cook the beans and then freeze them, they tend to loose their shape and texture when de-thawed.Allow the beans to completely cool at room temperature before placing them in the freezer.

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