Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Freezing Beans

Green beans are a favorite in our house, so I grew a lot of them this year. In fact, I have a new crop just emerging from the ground right now. I like to keep a constant supply of beans throughout the summer and that means multiple plantings. They grow pretty fast, so it is easy to grow two crops over the summer.

Green beans produce a hefty bounty, and if you don't harvest the beans when they are ripe, the plants will stop producing. Since you need to preserve the beans you aren't going to use within a week of picking, we decided to freeze up our extras. I prefer frozen green beans to canned ones since they are crisper, and canning green beans requires a pressure canner (that we don't have), so freezing was our best choice.

Freezing green beans is really quite simple. We have a vacuum sealer, but you don't need one. You can store the beans in freezer bags and they will keep nicely.

First some advice on picking the beans. It sounds simple enough, but it can be tricky, because you really need two hands to keep from ripping the vine down from the trellis or snapping the bean in half. Use one hand to hold the bean at the base where the bean meets the vine, and the other hand to sharply twist the bean and remove it from the vine.

kentucky_pole_bean_6_28_2007

Make sure you wash the beans really well. You don't want to freeze dirt or bugs with the beans!

green_beans_7_2007

Snap off the ends, and then snap them in halves or thirds, depending on the size of the bean. Break them into bite-sizes that are manageable, but not too small, since really small beans might turn to mush when you cook them.

blanched_green_beans

Now you are going to blanch the beans. You will need a pot of boiling water, a bowl of ice water and your freezer bags.

Add a serving size of beans to the boiling water and let them boil for 3 minutes exactly. This doesn't cook the beans, but kills any bacteria that might be living in them. Remove the beans from the boiling water and place them in the ice water for another 3 minutes. This cools the beans down and restores their crispness. Now you can pack them up in freezer bags or use a vacuum sealer to store them.

Next year I'm going to interplant my beans with corn. I read that is how the Native Americans used to grow beans, and it sounds like a great idea. That will give me more room to grow other veg!

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