Ask the Goats: Canning black bean soup?

Q: I make a lot of black bean soup but don’t have much room in my freezer. Can I can it?

(Another one from Doris’s co-worker J)

I’m so glad you asked. Like they say on Facebook, it’s complicated. The short answer is yes, BUT only in a pressure canner. Beans are the classic low-acid botulism-breeding food. Even in a soup packed with tomatoes, lime juice, and salt, it’s still not safe to can a bean soup in a water bath. If you have a pressure canner, though, can away.

As always, you’ll need clean pint or quart Mason jars, new lids, and clean rings. Rather than re-hash all the canning steps, I’m going to refer you to the chicken broth post where we cover important steps like heating the lids and venting the pressure cooker. Assuming you’re following the basic canning procedures, you’ll do the following:

1) Prepare your soup and keep it hot.
2) Transfer the soup into the jars and screw on the lids.
3) Put your jars into the pressure cooker, along with 2 quarts of boiling water.
4) Vent the steam for 8 minutes.
5) At sea level, using 10 lbs of pressure, process pints for 65 minutes or quarts for 75 minutes. If you’re more than 1,500 feet above sea level, use 15 lbs of pressure.

Honestly, at 75 minutes processing time, it might be more energy efficient to buy a bigger freezer. But if you don’t have room or are preparing for a future without electricity, this is a good solution. Thanks to the good folks at the National Center for Home Food Preservation for their tips on canning vegetables.

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4 comments to Ask the Goats: Canning black bean soup?

  • jane harkness

    I am canning ham & bean soup at sea level, 10# 65 min. The liquid dissapears and I’m left with a bean glob. What am I doing wrong? Thanks

  • admin

    It’s fairly normal to lose some liquid when you’re pressure canning–search for the post on canning tomatoes for pictures. So long as there’s a good seal, you could just store them like this, then add water when you’re ready to eat it. In other words, treat it like condensed soup. Other tips for avoiding water loss: be sure to remove any air bubbles from your jars before screwing on the lids, that the lids are screwed on fairly tightly, and that the water level is appropriate.

    Good luck!

  • Sherry Bayne

    I opened a can of black beans, used half of it and left the rest in the fridge for 2 weeks. Now there’s a white film starting to form over it. I wanted to use it in some chili. I tasted the white stuff and it doesn’t have any taste. Is it O.K. to use?

  • admin


    The official answer for anything that’s been in your fridge for 2 weeks with strange films on them is a definite no. If it’s slimy and/or smells bad, the answer is really, truly no. If not, use your own judgment, but please note that you’re doing so at your own risk. The short answer is always: if in doubt, throw it out.