Welcome back to Day two of our newest series:
If you missed the first day, just click here to catch up.
Today is another easy tutorial on a staple food that many cultures and climates use to supplement their diets in place of meats, or to ease the strain of the cost of meat on your budgets.
As many of you know, we are in a year where there was a meat glut on the market, and now where the US has the lowest numbers of beef herds in 60 years. That means higher and higher prices on the meat market as the demand remains the same or more, but the availability shrinks.
Our family has used less and less meat as the years go by, even with a husband who is born-and-bred-Minnesotan, which in any dictionary will have a picture of the Handy Hubby and this description: “Carnivore of a determined nature, whose only form of vegetable matter preferred is in the type known as Potatoes. Anything else is disdained and often discarded, while this person prefers a steady diet consisting of 75% meat products and 25% of potatoes.”
And then he met me. 
A lady from the West who loved fruits, vegetables, rice and beans,
sushi, and a little meat once in a while.
Needless to say, our first year of marriage was a colossal crash of two worlds together.
And while I have come to enjoy a nice steak a couple times of year, it truly is the Handy Hubby who has grown by leaps and bounds in the culinary department. He willingly accepts Thai food, Mexican food, Chinese food, and anything else that I can come up with. He tolerates the meals I make that have little or no meat, and has come to the point where he makes a mean pan of brownies using only black beans and my MASTER BROWNIE MIX. Not to mention his Split pea Soup.
So for us, and for many others, beans are a simple and solid meal option to keep the protein flowing, and the meals
filling and satisfying.
 And honestly, taking them from dry beans to ready meal ingredient was one of the reasons I dreaded using them. I am a busy lady, and seriously, having to soak something forever was harder than remembering to thaw out meat overnight when my microwave quit.
January 2013 310


So it was with great excitement and delight when a good friend, Ben Scoles, came up with a simple way to take those beans from the bag to the jar, in a fool-proof method that has worked hundreds of times for me, here at the real Welcoming House. No more buying expensive cans of beans at the stores, instead I can can up my own for half the price and twice the product.
And THAT is a winner in my book. 
More than that, if you do find canned beans on sale, I will tell you a simple trick. Simply drain, rinse, and mash those canned beans. I use a stick blender to do this. Next, take a non-stick mat in your dehydrator, and spread it out in a paste on that mat, and turn that baby on at around 135*. Once it is dry on top, peel it, flip it, and continue until the mat is brittle and completely dry with no wet or sticky spots. Run it through a blender, and you have instant re-fried beans, bean powder you can bake into breads or rice (staples) to increase the protein content, etc. Even better, if you are a family who doesn’t have a lot of storage space, you can dry a can of beans, and end up with only a scant 1/4 cup of bean powder when you are done—saving you space, but still preserving the product.
I keep plenty of both on hand, storing dry beans in half gallon jars that I will can up when my canned beans get low. We use more navy beans, kidney  beans and black beans than anything, but have quickly started to boost our use of pinto beans for the dried bean powders and canned as a “meat stretcher”, since once it is cooked with ground beef you can not tell the difference.
So here are the simple directions!
Pressure Canning Beans the Ben Scoles Way
Take clean and sterilized glass jars that do not have any nicks or bubbles in the rim. Whatever beans you are using, simply rinse them in a colander first before adding them to the jars. Since you are pressure canning, jars do not have to be hot as they do when water bath canning. For pints add 2/3 cup rinsed dry beans, and for quarts add 1 cup + 2 Tbs rinsed dry beans into each jar. At this point, cover the beans with boiling water up to the 1″head space (bottom thread of the jar mouth), wipe the rim with a clean cotton cloth,  and cap with a warm, sterilized lid, tightening the ring to finger tight, not excessively tight. Place your jars into a warmer pressure canner and process for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts once your canner reaches proper pressure for your elevation.
And that is it!
I have often canned meals in jars, and have had great success with that, but I find with beans I like to can them plain so that they are more versatile. That way I can grab a jar and know that the plain flavor can be melded into whatever meal (or dessert) that I am making.

A note Ben added after reading this:

 Heather, I read it and Thanks, I am no smart guy, I just played with these alot and come up with a different way to be a little more ready for ‘thoughtless’ days, when I forget to take care of myself. A change that some people might like more: to use a  1/2 cup (level measure) for the pint jar, and 1 cup (level measure) for the quart jar, ad it may be a little closer to the store bought version of the beans for those that prefer, that type of beans. This was brought to my attention by several who liked the idea, and tweaked it a little to meet what they liked. Give it a try, you may like it better, you may not………. (Thanks so much Ben!!!!)
And now here are a couple recipes for you:
Instant Refried Beans: 1/3 cup of dried bean powder to 1 Cup hot water, 1 tsp olive oil or lard, and 1/2 onion pureed with a stick blender. Season with salt and chili powder while heating in a skillet. Adjust the thickness or thinness according to your preference. These WILL burn, so be sure to keep an eye on them. We use this recipe to make quick tostadas: corn tortillas on a hot cast iron griddle, coated with instant refried beans, cheese, a little shredded meat if we have it. Toast on one side, flip, toast on the other and serve. My kids love this meal.
Black Bean Brownies:
Add one pint black beans, mashed and pureed with 1 Tbs of oil to one 2 1/2 cup “serving batch” of the Brownie Master Mix found in my Master Mix Way E-book. Add two eggs, and 1/4 cup water, then pour into a greased pan and bake at 350* for 35 minutes. Makes rich and fudgy black bean brownies that your kids will eat up and never know how good they are for them!
Heather’s Cajun Beans and Rice
Pressure Cooker: to the non-stick bowl add the following: 2 cups rice, one pint black or Jacob’s Cattle beans (I grow these) from the jar, 2 tsp Cajun spice seasoning, 1 Tbs oil, 1 onion, diced, one red sweet pepper diced, 1 Tbs dried corn, 2 tsp oregano, one pint or can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and 2 1/2 cups water. If you are doing this on the stove top instead of a pressure cooker, then add 3 cups water because you will require more to make the rice the perfect stickiness than in the pressure cooker. This is a fantastic, spicy, and simple meal. In the pressure cooker I put it on high pressure and let it go for ten minutes, letting it cool down naturally to give the rice time to fluff. On the stove top this should take about 25 minutes.
Simple Hummus: Click here for this recipe
Sweet and Sassy Chili:Click Here for this recipe
Finally, I would like to challenge to read this article that I wrote back in July about the WHY we should learn to do these things and the items we should be stocking up on in our home and pantries. Better safe than sorry I always say. Please, Click here to read about it…..
**I store my dry beans in half gallon jars, with one package (including instructions for cooking) folded up on top. I then seal the lid tightly with my Food Saver and jar attachments, and Set it on the shelf. I can up one of those jars at at time to keep my food storage rotated.