Sunday, July 01, 2012

Mustard Beans

 I can't remember how I first came upon the notion of mustard beans, but this year, I was looking for something different to do with my green beans besides my usual pickled green beans.   There's not a lot of recipes for them out there on the interwebs; I think it is because most of the traditional recipes call for flour and nowadays, the USDA doesn't consider canning recipes with flour in them food safe.  The reason is that the flour changes the food's density enough that there is a risk that the temperature of the food at the center of the jar will not reach 212 F to kill off all of the bad stuff.  A few years ago, I heard that the USDA was on the path to softening it's stance on this position about flour, but I haven't seen anything yet.   The notion seems a little silly to me - I can understand their reasoning for thickening low acid foods like beef stew, but this is essentially a pickle, so the acid in the recipe will certainly handle the job of killing off the "bad guys" - that is why the USDA approves pastuerization instead of the regular water bath canning method for pickles.   Mustard beans are like corn relish in that they are essentially a "salad in a jar".  I love water bath canning recipes that are more than just a condiment, because they are great to have in the pantry come January.

There is a product out there to thicken canned food called Clear Jel, but it's not found in stores here in Michigan.  I understand that the bulk food stores regularly carry it on the shelf in Utah, because those Mormon gals are way into canning in a big way as part of their preparedness ethic.  In Michigan, we have few Mormons, so I asked my friend Matt at work about this. I like to tell him he is the only Mormon I know outside of Donnie and Marie....

He good naturedly answers all my Mormon questions, such as "Do Mormons celebrate Halloween?" (the answer is yes) and "Why are there so many Mormons in Boy Scouts?" (he doesn't know, but he is an Eagle Scout and so are his sons).   I asked him about the canning thing and he said yes, it's true, and even joked that when a Mormon takes you on a house tour and shows you the guest room, he'll open the door and it will be full of canned goods.   Of course, Costco provides a solution for those that aren't into canning - it's a pallet full of food to feed a family of 4 for 12 months at a mere $4500!   So the Mormon ladies are very often into the canning thing if they don't have some spare $$$ available for the Costco solution, so I guess it makes sense for the stores to carry Clear Jel.    I didn't want to have to order anything off the internet, so I went without for this recipe.  I guess that the final product should have a thicker mustard sauce than mine, but that's okay.

I found a recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, thanks to a new tool I have been trying out called Eat Your Books, which enables you to index all of your cookbooks.   All I had to do was type "mustard beans" in the search of my library, and I found it easily.   Now, I just need to organize my cookbooks in some logical fashion so I can lay my hands on them.  LOL  I adjusted Ball's recipe by reducing the sugar and omitting the Clear Jel.    Here's how I did it...

Makes about 7 pints

2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 c dry mustard
1/4 c picking salt
1 T ground ginger
1 tsp ground tumeric
2 1/2 c white vinegar
1/2 c water
4 c chopped onions (about 4 large onions)
1 1/4 cup finely chopped and seeded red pepper (about 1 large)
11 cups chopped (1 inch pieces) trimmed green beans (about a half a peck)

Prepare canner, jars and lids.   Add all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil.   Ladle bean mixture into hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.   Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath canner.   


Anonymous said...

This looks to be very close to a long lost family recipe that my Aunt and Uncle would make. The main difference is that their recipe was made with whole pearl onions and cauliflower in addition to the beans (green and yellow wax in theirs).

Thanks Cynitha...

noëlle said...

How are you liking Eat Your Books? It's a subscription service, correct? Would you say it's worth the $? I have so many cookbooks, some I don't want to get rid of but it would be nice to "archive" them to the attic and still be able to access the recipes.

JaneEYB said...

Hi Cynthia - thank you so much for your mention of Eat Your Books. We are a small company so recommendations like yours really help us. I wanted to contact you but couldn't find your email on the site - could you please email me at

Anonymous said...

While this recipe makes something that sort of tastes like bean pickle, it is far too soupy. I used the exact measurements.

Shannon Shannon said...

I just put all my exact measured ingredients in the pot, I'm worried (cause that's me)
That it should be the same water/vinegar ratio, and no flour. Is thi correct?
It looks good though.

Shannon Shannon said...

This tasted very yummy. I only got 6 pints and hoping it will somehow thicken up.
Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Do the mustard bean pickles thicken?