Home Canning Butter Beans and Lima Beans

canned butter beans
Canning butter beans begins by shelling and rinsing the beans. Cover the beans with boiling water and fill jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Process for 50 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure in a pressure canner, adjusting the pressure per elevation.

What is the Best Way to Can Butter Beans and Lima Beans?

The best way to can fresh Lima beans or butter beans is to use a pressure canner.

Beans are a low-acid food with a pH greater than 4.6. As such, a boiling water bath canner can’t provide a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria such as botulism spores.

Fresh butter beans and bean pods
Fresh butter beans

How to Can Fresh Butter Beans in a Pressure Canner?

Pressure canning fresh Lima beans or butter beans is the best way of preserving these vegetables. If it is your first time home canning fresh beans, follow these step-by-step canning instructions:

  1. Shell the fresh butter beans and wash them in fresh water to remove dirt and debris.
  2. In a large pot, cover the beans with water and bring the water to a boil.
  3. In the meantime, wash canning jars, lids, and screw bands in hot, soapy water and rinse them well. Sanitize the canning jars by immersing them in a separate pot of boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the hot jars using canning tongs and add one teaspoon of canning salt to each quart jar or ½ teaspoon of salt to each pint jar.
  5. Hot pack the jars with beans and boiling water, leaving at least 1-inch headspace for small beans in quart jars or 1 1/2 inches of headspace for larger beans in quart jars. Ensure the beans are not packed too tightly.
  6. Using a bubble popper, remove any air bubbles present in the canning jars. Then, wipe the rims with a damp cloth.
  7. Add the canning lids to the tops of the jars and use screw bands to secure the lids, ensuring they are fingertip tight.
  8. Put the canning jars on the canning rack inside a prepared pressure canner, leaving some space between the canning jars.
  9. Close the lid on the pressure canner and allow the canner to vent steam per the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the pressure build to the appropriate pounds of pressure based on your canner type and elevation:

Process time for Lima beans or butter beans in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.

Altitude (ft)0 – 1,0001,001 +
Pints (40 mins)10lbs15lbs
Quarts (50 mins)10lbs15lbs

Process time for Lima beans or butter beans in a dial-gauge pressure canner.

Altitude (ft)0 – 2,0002,001 – 4,0004,001 – 6,0006,001 +
Pints (40 mins)11lbs12lbs13lbs14lbs
Quarts (50 mins)11lbs12lbs13lbs14lbs
  1. Do not begin timing until the pressure reaches the appropriate level. Process pints for 40 minutes and quarts for 50 minutes.
  2. Once the processing time is over, turn off the heat and let the canner cool.
  3. Remove the lid once the pressure is zero and allow the canning jars to remain in the canner for 10 minutes. Using a jar lifter, transfer the jars to a towel-covered countertop and allow the jars to cool at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
  4. Remove the screw bands from the jars.
  5. Test the seals to ensure a proper vacuum seal has formed on each jar. Properly sealed jars have lids that do not flex up and down.
  6. Label sealed jars and store them in a cool, dry place. For any jars that are not properly sealed, reprocess with new canning lids or refrigerate and use the contents within 3-5 days.

Is There a Difference Between Butter Beans and Lima Beans?

Lima beans and butter beans refer to the same thing. Their species is known as Phaseolus lunatus, and the name difference is due to geography.

In the United Kingdom and the American South, they are called butter beans. They have a buttery, creamy texture when cooked, which is how they got their name. In other parts of the United States, they are called Lima beans and are so named after Lima, Peru, where they have been grown for 9,000 years.

How Long Does it Take to Can Butter Beans?

Canning butter beans takes between 40 and 50 minutes of processing time when processed at 10 to 15 pounds of pressure, depending on the jar size and the type of canner.

How Many Pounds of Butter Beans Do You Need for Canning?

Beans of the same variety come in different sizes, so the amount needed varies depending on the individual size of the beans.

In general, about 18 pounds of fresh lima beans are required for each nine-pint canner load, while 28 pounds of fresh beans are required for each seven-quart canner load.

Fresh Lima beans in a bowl held by human hands
Fresh beans

Jar Sizes for Canning Butter Beans

For canning butter beans, you will need 8-ounce jars, pint jars, or quart jars. The correct jar size will depend on how many pounds of beans you are canning.

  • For small batches (2 to 3 cups), use 8-ounce jars.
  • For medium batches (4 to 6 cups), use pint jars (16 ounces).
  • For larger batches (8 to 10 cups), use quart jars (32 ounces).

Make sure to leave the appropriate headspace in the canning jars to allow for the expansion of the beans during processing. Leave 1-inch headspace when you cover beans in pint jars or 8-ounce jars and 1½-inch headspace for quart jars.

Standard canning jar sizes
Standard jar sizes

Should Butter Beans be Raw Packed or Hot Packed?

Butter beans can be raw-packed or hot-packed. Raw packing involves canning uncooked beans, while hot packing refers to pre-cooking the beans before canning.

As you decide whether to raw pack or hot pack butter beans, keep in mind that hot packing often produces the best quality end product, while raw packing reduces the preparation time. It’s vital to follow a safe canning process as outlined by the USDA and the National Center for Home Food Preservation.

What Can You Do with Canned Butter Beans?

Home-canned butter beans are a fantastic way to add nutrients like fiber and protein to your diet. Check out these quick and easy butter bean canning recipes:

1. Canned Butter Bean Hummus

Oil-free and made with just a few healthy ingredients, this simple canned butter bean hummus is ideal as a light snack or side dish.

2. Canned Butter Bean Potato Soup

Creamy and delicious, this low-fat, gluten-free canned butter bean potato soup makes a great evening meal.

3. Canned Butter Bean Squash Crumble

This great-tasting and warming dish is high in fiber and a good source of iron.

Butter bean stew with bread on the side
Butter bean stew

Shelf Life and Storage of Canned Butter Beans

Store canned butter beans in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Ensure jars are labeled with the contents and the date. Per the USDA, properly stored canned butter beans have a shelf life of 3 to 5 years but should be consumed within 12 months for the best flavor.


Patrick has a farming background and is a full-time food writer and recipe creator. His goal is to help you discover how fantastic canning is by sharing his knowledge. Outside of the kitchen, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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