This year the green and wax been plants have done very well. We have eaten beans much more often then the children would prefer. I have also given bags of beans to my parents. However, there were still multiple gallon zip lock bags of beans in the refrigerator. Since we had so many beans on hand I decided to freeze some of the beans.
The first step is to clean the beans and remove any damaged sections. I had a few beans that had some spots where bugs had helped themselves to my beans. There were also a few beans that had touched the ground, and had sections that didn’t look nice. This is also a good time to remove the ends of the beans were they had attached to the plants.
For me the second step is to cut the beans into smaller sections. I make them as close to bite size as I can. Since these beans were fresh, I was able to just snap them into pieces. You could do this at the same time you remove the unwanted parts from the beans. I don’t do it that way because I have a way of mixing the unwanted parts with the good beans.
While you are breaking up the beans you can start some water boiling. You will probably need a big pot if you have a large number of beans. Put enough water in the pot to cover the beans you are going to put in it.
Boil the beans for about 3 minutes. This process is called blanching. I don’t fully understand the science behind this process, but somehow it helps the beans preserve better. It helps preserve the color and texture of the beans during the freezing process.
After 3 minutes, remove the beans from the boiling water and quickly put them into ice water. This stops the cooking process, so the beans don’t get over cooked. You still want them to be mostly crispy when they are frozen. This will give them a better texture when cooked later in the year.
After the beans have cooled, they need to dry. I usually just leave them in a strainer for awhile. They can also be laid out on a cookie sheet. They don’t have to be totally dry, but you don’t want to put them in the freezer soaked. If there is a lot of extra water, then you will end up with ice. To much ice can cause freezer burn over time.
I separate the beans into bags based on how many we will use for a meal. Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal the bag, and place into the freezer.
Beans are an easy vegetable to preserve, and the process doesn’t take much time. At the end it is satisfying for me to be able to save some of what I grow for later. That is less vegetables we will need to buy later the year.
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Good description! Fresh veggie are full of active enzymes. The blanching process denatures the enzymes so they stop working. Also the food is partly cooked so after freezing you only need to reheat because the freezing process itself breaks down the innards of the veggie completing the “cooking” process. The fast cooling prevents the beans from becoming completely cooked. If you don’t blanch, or you don’t cool quickly, you end up with a mushy mess or something rubbery and yucky when you finely cook the veggies out of the freezer. (Mushy or rubbery depends on the veggie.) I do my beans exactly the same way except I spread them on the cookie sheet and freeze them loose pack. That way I can cook a lot more if I have company or just use a few for soup if I want. Loose pack develops freezer burn more quickly and takes up more freezer room so not everyone does that. I have tried canning beans as well and since they are low acid you have to pressure can and they just don’t come out as nicely as fresh frozen.
Thanks for the description of blanching. While I know that beans can be canned, I doubt I would ever do it. Freezing seems to keep more of the original texture. Canning would definitely be good though if I didn’t have the freezer, or if I had more of the beans.
Improperly canned beans are the number one cause of botulism because beans are low acid. They have to be pressure canned for 20 minutes with 10 lbs per quart. My late ex mother-in-law got around that by adding vinegar which I thought tasted awful. I do sometimes fill space around a dill pickle with some fresh beans. They come out very nice as a pickled veggie with cucumbers and since that involves lots of vinegar you don’t have to worry about pressure canning. I have also pickled them with hot peppers. Beans pick up the hot pepper flavour and you get hot crunchy beans my husband loves.
BTW I just love your blog. I get so many great ideas.
Well done. Practical economically and nutritionally and worth the extra effort in the long run especially for larger families with available freezer space.