Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How to Freeze Green Beans

Frozen green beans are a staple at our house three seasons out of the year.  They are easy to grow in the summer, produce prolifically, and taste much better making them well-worth the little bit of energy required to preserve them.  Of course, you can pressure can them or pickle them, but freezing them gives you much more flexibility.  Last year I was not growing beans in the garden so I only froze 8 pounds which resulted in about 7 quarts.  The problem is, we ran out of beans well before we were ready.  This year, we are growing two 4 x 8 beds of green beans which is keeping us in a plentiful supply.  I picked up a few pounds at the farmer's market on Saturday to supplement what I had at home, and I ended up with 16 pounds to put up.  Hopefully this will get us started, and as more beans come out of the garden, we will freeze the ones we don't eat fresh.

I have recently had several friends ask me how I freeze my green beans, so here are the very simple steps.  In my opinion, they are one of the faster vegetables you can deal with when freezing. Hopefully, you are dealing with stringless beans.  If not, it will take longer because you will need to remove the strings.  Just grin and bear it while secretly feeling very sorry for yourself, and remember to buy/grow stringless beans next year. 

Step 1:  Snap or cut the stem end off each bean.  Snap the beans in 2 inch lengths or leave smaller beans whole depending on your preference.  I snap mine. 


Step 2:  Thoroughly wash the beans and allow them to drain.  In the meantime, you will need to prepare your boiling water for blanching and your ice bath.  Fill a stock pot with water and bring it to a boil.  For the ice bath, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice and set it aside.     

Step 3:  Place your washed beans into the pot of boiling water.  The water may stop boiling as the temperature of your beans lowers it temporarily.  Wait for it to return to a boil, and allow the beans to simmer 3 minutes. 


Step 4:  Immediately remove the beans from the boiling water and plunge them into the ice bath to cool them down and stop the cooking process.  Leave them in the ice bath as long as they were in the water, about 3 minutes.   


Step 5:  Remove the beans from the ice bath, draining them thoroughly.  I use a metal spider strainer for each of the draining steps.  


Step 6:  If doing more than one batch, put your next batch of beans into the boiling water while you bag the rest.  Scoop the cooled, blanched beans into heavy duty freezer bags.  I measure 4 cups into a bag.  Make sure to leave at least 2 inches headspace in each bag for expansion.  Label the bags and place the beans in the freezer for up to 1 year. 


Sixteen pounds untrimmed green beans yielded 11 quarts frozen beans plus a few that we ate fresh.     

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