How are canned beans actually made?

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The beans are harvested and shipped to processing plants for canning. According to Dr. Clifford Hall – professor of food science and member of the Bean Institute – America is, by far, the world leader in bean production. Each year, American farmers plant between 1.5 million and 1.8 million acres of beans.

Upon arrival at the processing plants, the beans are inspected for color by an optical sorting machine, which uses an electronic eye to assess the quality of each bean, according to the Tesco Eat Happy project. This is no small task. On average, a processing plant can see deliveries of 160 tonnes of beans per day, from Tesco.

Beans that pass quality inspection are then rehydrated by blanching in hot water, between 167 degrees and 185 degrees Fahrenheit. In an ABC Science documentary, Clare Collins, a teacher and dietician, explores Australia’s largest fruit and vegetable cannery and (literally) walks viewers through the process of canning beans.

Time and temperature, she says, are key to killing microbes and preserving the beans’ inherent nutrition. This sweet spot, in which microbes are neutralized while retaining nutrients, is called the “thermal death time,” she explains.

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