Friday, August 30, 2013

Speckled Limas Beans

Have you ever ended up buying and going home with something you really shouldn't have?  I have...many times.   

The other day I was walking up to pay for my basket of produce at the farmers market, not intending to preserve anything that week, when a basket of speckled lima beans caught my eye.  Having never put up lima beans and noticing that they had a pretty low price tag, I snapped up a half bushel, not really knowing how I would use them or if we would enjoy them this winter.  I just couldn't help myself.  I think it had something to do with the fact that they were purple and polka-dotty. 

At first I regretted buying them because they meant so much work.  Shelling, washing, sorting, and blanching take time, you know?  But the more I think about it, the more I wonder why I have never frozen limas before, and to be honest, they really weren't that much trouble to put up in the first place.  Now, I'm excited to use them in soups throughout the winter, and I imagine I will be able to cook them the same way I do field peas.

So, this year we'll be eating frozen limas, and we'll see, come inventory time, how much we really enjoyed them.  You never know, it may just start a new tradition.  

By the way, that same shopping trip also ended up with me buying another 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes, which I truly did regret and ended up crushing and canning just so I wouldn't have to think about them anymore.  I will use them, I'm sure, but that was just a case of my eyes being bigger than my canning stamina.  

Freezing Speckled Lima Beans- 1/2 bushel makes 6-7 quarts frozen beans

A half bushel (15 pounds unshelled limas) ended up giving me 6 1/2 quarts of frozen beans.  The speckled beans do lose some of their color and detail upon blanching, but they remain pretty none the less. They do require several rounds of washing to get them really clean and free of debris.  Do not skip this step.  Otherwise you will be eating dirt (yuck!).  

1/2 bushel unshelled lima beans
boiling water
ice bath

Shell the beans and wash them thoroughly.  Drain the beans and wash again as needed, until the beans are free of debris.  Place the beans, in batches, in a large pot of boiling water.  Blanch the beans for 3 minutes.  Remove the beans with a slotted spoon or mesh strainer, and place the beans in an ice bath to cool.  Once cooled completely, drain the beans and place in freezer bags leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Label and freeze for later use.     


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