heirloom vegetable most suitable for canning

logfarmerJanuary 22, 2007

I would like to can beans,peas, tomatoes and potatoes. Canned peas and beans from the store do not compare in taste to fresh peas and beans. Is this mainly the canning process or is it possible to use more flavorfull heirloom varieties and have more flavor in home canned vegetables. I realize this is somewhat subjective but I think you know what Im talking about. Is it possible to get flavorfull home canned vegetables?

Thanks, Martin

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It might be both factors. However, I know that some of the beans we grow and can are just plain better than the store bought varieties. Our favorite is called Tennessee Cutshort, handed down to us by my wife's great aunt. This bean fills out more before you pick it and when you can it there are actually shell beans mixed in with the snaps. They're wonderful!

We freeze our peas, so I don't know what to tell you about canning them. We grow an open pollinated variety of snap pea (not plant patented like Sugar Snap) called Sugaree. It's really good!

Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 3:14PM
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Thanks for the reply George.
It sounds like flavor may be a function of both the canning process and the type of bean or vegetable used. Have you ever canned store bought string beans and if so how did they taste?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 12:24AM
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No, I never have. But I can vouch that most of the time those store bought "fresh" green beans are pretty dried out. Whenever possible I'd grow my own. Not only is it easy, and can be done in a relatively small area, but you are guaranteed the very best quality and can choose between more nuances in flavor and texture.

You ought to drop in on the beans and legumes forum and read some of the postings on flavor of different beans. There seems to be an endless array. Our Tennessee Cutshort variety is a "beany," full bodied variety, which I can't say I've ever seen the likes of in the grocery store. We also grow a bush bean called "Fowler." It is an early producer and produces stringless, round snaps in abundance. Fowler is like the apex of perfection in the style of bean you might find in the grocery store; no strings and very tender. It has good flavor for its kind. Many rave about the variety, and with good reason. But it is VERY different from what I call "beany" types, once which you let fill out some, before cooking. It's really a matter of preference. And it's fun to try some of the various types.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 9:21AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Martin, it isn't really a matter of heirlooms vs hybrids. Some varieties of each are just more able to withstand the rigors of canning. For instance, other than the tomatoes, everything on your list requires processing under pressure for a relative long period.

To build on George's response, though, there are several things to keep in mind.

1. GIGO's Law (Garbage In, Garbage Out). As a general rule, heirlooms taste better than hybrids, because flavor is not one of the selection criterium used when developing a hybrid. So you are better off starting with an heirloom. If there is a loss of quality from canning, you're starting out on a higher plane, and will thus finish the same way (The flip side of GIGO's Law is Gold In, Gold Out).

2. For similar reasons, if you can't grow your own, then you should shop at a genuine farmer's market, or locally-grown farmstand, to assure the freshest produce possible. And you usually have a better selection that way, as well. For instance, supermarket beans are generally either Blue Lake or the ubiquitous half-runners that taste like wood chips. At farmer's markets there is an array of bean choices.

At farmers markets and farm stands you can purchase vine-ripened tomatoes, no matter what the variety. You can't do that in the supermarket. And that makes a world of difference in the canned product. Again, if there's no flavor going in, there won't be any going out.

3. Canned produce from the store will never taste like the fresh vegetables because of the processing steps involved. These include the addition of preservatives, salts, and sugars, and processing at high heat. In fact, it's all but impossible to buy canned goods that do not contain high levels of sodium and sugar (that "high fructous corn syrup" listing in the ingredients). That's why you're better off buying frozen than canned. And it's also why home canned taste better than commerically canned; you're not filling them up with all those additives.

So, the answer to your question (Is it possible to get flaverfull home canned vegetables?) the answer is a resounding "yes!" But to do that you have to start with flavorfull veggies. That's the whole secret.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2007 at 6:58AM
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Thank you all for the responses,
I am retireing and will be moving to my place in NE Washington state this spring. We have a large ( 80' x 90') 6' high deer fenced garden space. It has been growing mainly raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, currants, apricots, some apples and asparagus but a lot of weeds since we are 350 miles away. My wife loves flowers so it has also been the temporary parking space for a lot of flowers. We have not had much of a chance to garden but now it will be possible to grow whatever we want given our possible late may, late august killing frost windows. So we have plenty of room and lots of cattle panels to use for pole beans and peas so we dont need to grow bush beans or peas.
Id like to can in order to extend our home vegetable eating as long as posssible and our freezer space is some what limited allthough that could be an additional way to save some of our produce. But I dont know much about that either. Ive heard that those vacume sealing machines are real good but from what I looked at the bag material seemed pretty expensive and Im not sure how long you can keep vegetables in the freezer. Canned goods I know can keep for quite awhile if you dont get to them that season they will still be good next year plus we allready have hundreds of canning jars.
I like the gold in gold out principal but do not know what varietys will withstand the canning process the best. I was thinking heirlooms because of the better taste available but I dont know which is the best tasting and possible to grow in our area.
I have not grown heirloom vegetables on purpose since I havent had a garden since I was a kid with a few exeptions during the years, so hence the question about varietys. Given that tastes are different I was hoping to get some opinions about the varietys that might do the best in canning mainly as far as withstanding the heat and retaining taste as well as texture and firmness if that is possible.
Ive been reading the hierlooom seed catalogs and some of them say that blue lake is a good bean for canning but that is not the main focus of informatin given in seed catalogs. The two main vegatables I would like to can are peas and string beans niether of which is too good in cans from the store.
George the kind of beans I like are the ones witnout real pronounced bean pods but the more string kind of bean if that is the proper teminology, in other word beans without a lot of pronouned lumps from the seeds.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2007 at 11:55AM
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>>the kind of beans I like are the ones without real pronounced bean pods but the more string kind of bean if that is the proper terminology, in >>other word beans without a lot of pronounced lumps from the seeds.

If I understand you, then you probably like the Blue Lake type of bean. Fowler Bush bean is in that camp. This kind of bean has tender, round pods, albeit generally stringless. There are a good many varieties out there which would probably satisfy your tastes.


    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 7:33AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Martin, I generally freeze most of my produce, since it preserves more of the flavor & nutrients; but it does take up a lot of freezer space & requires reliable power. The vacuum bags you mentioned, while fairly expensive, can be recycled many times, and will maintain a high degree of quality (if kept frozen at zero degrees F.) for up to two years. Some frozen edamame soybeans showed no loss of quality even after 3 years.

But if your location is as remote as it sounds, and you are aiming at self-sufficiency, then you are probably right to choose canning as the primary means for preserving your harvest.

My strongest recommendation for a canning bean would be "Emerite". It has outstanding cool-soil germination, the pods are very straight, round, & tasty, and it is firmer than most beans I have grown - so it should hold up well to the canning process. It is one of the best for table quality.

And although I am not personally fond of "Blue Lake", it would be my second choice for you, since it was bred for short seasons, and has proven to be a good canner. It was, in fact, developed in the Pacific Northwest.

"Fortex" is long (up to 11") and has excellent quality, second only to "Emerite" in my trials. They are so good eaten raw that you will probably eat many while picking - I know I do. The pods mature slowly, remaining stringless for an extended period. It has good cool-soil germination & probably the best disease resistance of any bean I have grown. However, if strong winds are prevalent in your location during pod formation, the long pods could suffer from wind bruising.

"Cascade Giant" is another bean bred in the Northwest & is supposed to be a good canner; but I have not grown it personally, so I can't testify to its quality.

"Pole 191" (or "Ferry-Morse Pole 191") is a white-seeded Kentucky Wonder-type, that was bred for cooler climates. It did very well for me when I lived on the California coast (where cool breezes were the norm) and is very high-yielding. If you like your beans "beany", you would like this one. It has become hard to find, however... this is the bean that drove me to become a seed saver.

Last of all, you might try one of the pole Romano beans; they usually bear quickly, and have excellent flavor. "Romano Pole", "Early Riser", "Helda", "Kwintus", and "Musica" are some of the most widely available.

All of these beans are pole varieties. Territorial & Vermont Bean are good sources, among others.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2007 at 11:02PM
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Amish paste tomatoe and grow sweet basil and garlic and onoins for spaghetti sauce . pear tomatoes also .

    Bookmark   January 29, 2007 at 11:10AM
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People in Europe eat fresh vegetables all year long. Did you know that Cannes on the Mediterranean coast of France is comparable to Portland, Maine? Most of Maine, on the 44th parallel, is on the same latitude as Avignon and Genoa, where gardening continues year round. It gets COLD out there! And yet most of Europe produces fresh vegetables year-round. It's not just summer that grows food.

Canning is cool, I put up quite a lot each year. But there's no reason to stop growing just because the temperature drops. Winter vegetables -- lettuces, broccolis, peas, cauliflower -- grow happily when it's snowing outside my zone 5 family's house in Colorado.

Consider all your options, and let me recommend a book.

Here is a link that might be useful: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long

    Bookmark   January 30, 2007 at 12:39PM
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I've been canning Blue Lakes every year for several years, now. We enjoy them a lot.
There was one particular year that the beans grew really well--the plants were lush, bore heavily and the beans were long. They were so perfect. I carried some to work for dinner(that I'd canned) and warmed them in the microwave. Our secretary remarked how wonderful they smelled.
Was it the seed, the weather, the garden row? I don't know. They are alsways good, but even the taste of that same variety can vary.
There was the year of too much rain...less flavor.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2007 at 12:17AM
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triple_b(BC 5b)

plot thickens,
I imagine it is also a heckuva lot more comfortable to be canning veggies in your kitchen when it ISN'T the middle of summer!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2007 at 9:56PM
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