Saturday, June 11, 2011

Putting up my green beans

I wanted to make a record of how I prepare my green beans for freezing so that I can easily reference it when this time comes around again next year. Perhaps it might also help someone else, so here goes:

This is my second harvest of green beans (and a few wax beans to add a fun color variation, although I do not like their taste as much). The first harvest (from 3 days prior) waited in my refrigerator, unwashed in a plastic grocery bag loosely tied.

First I wash the beans and snap off their pointy ends (and any stem ends that make it into my basket - I usually snap the bean right off its stem end when I pick it) and put those in the compost container. Then I cut the beans into bite-sized pieces, usually 3 or 4 segments per bean.

Next I put the cut beans in a steamer basket (enough to cover the basket but not too thick - I did three rounds this time) and steam them, covered, for about 3 minutes.

Then I use a hot pad to dump the blanched beans from the steamer basket into a bowl of ice water. I leave them in for a couple minutes and swish them around with my hand until they are tepid. Then I use my hand to pick up the beans and lay them out on a clean dishtowel to dry a bit.

Next I shake the beans in the dishtowel and dump them onto a cookie sheet. I spread them out and put the tray in the freezer for a couple hours. This allows the beans to freeze separately so they'll come out of the bag nicely later (rather than clumping together, which they might do if frozen directly in a bag).

Here they are in a zip-top bag, ready to go back in the freezer. I dole out beans for recipes as needed (they're great in soups, stir fries, casseroles, and as side dishes).

I'll repeat this process another time or two before my beans are done for this season. I prefer to plant all my bean seeds at once so I have big harvests to put up in the freezer for future use (rather than planting a few seeds every few weeks for a more continuous harvest for fresh use).

This year I have one row of green bean plants (bush variety), so about 12 ft by 1 ft of space. Next year I might devote more space to the beans because we enjoy them so much (and I go through my frozen beans within a couple of months).

One thing I learned this year: Teresa loves green beans cooked, raw, or blanched. She'll eat them right out of my basket, off the towel as the blanched beans are drying, or as a plain side dish served at meals. Hooray!

A big thank you to baby Cyprian for sleeping for hours midday so I could put up the beans! :)


Katherine T. Lauer said...

I am suffering garden envy over her, Frances! If we ever move again, having a yard with a sunny area for gardening will be a top priority for me! Great job with the beans.

Jenny L said...

Aliyah *loves* green beans too. It's her new favorite finger foods. That and chives.

Diane said...

Good work growing, freezing, and eating!!!