A long time ago when I was a young boy, if I put too much on my plate but couldn’t finish it all, my parents or grandparents would turn to me and say, “Your eyes were too big for your stomach, huh?” When the green bean harvest is coming in strong, there’s no way to eat them as fast as you pick ‘em. And you don’t want to do that anyway. If you do it right, you can enjoy the best of both worlds – you can enjoy ‘just-picked’ green beans right out of the garden AND you can do like a squirrel and sock some away for later months when it is either too hot or too cold to grow them.
But you want to store them right. Mushy dark green beans aren’t very appetizing. We blanch our beans and then when we pull them out of the freezer, it is really hard to tell by color, taste, or texture that they are not fresh. Here’s how we do it:
First we wash them and snap off both ends of the bean. We don’t snap them into smaller segments. We leave them whole, but that’s just our preference.
|Let's Blanch Some Green Beans...|
While I’m washing and snapping, I get a big pot of water boiling. Once it reaches a rolling boil, I drop in the first batch of beans. I try to guesstimate about the amount that will fit in a quart-sized freezer bag. The water will stop boiling and I continue to watch it closely. As soon as it reaches a boil again, I set the kitchen timer for three (3) minutes.
|Set the timer for 3 minutes|
During that three minute period, I wash the sink down, fill it halfway with cold water and add ice. When the alarm goes off, telling me that the beans have boiled for three minutes, I QUICKLY pull them out of the water and dunk them in the icy-cold water. The point of the exercise is to immediately halt the cooking process.
|Cool them down quickly!|
Then, of course I start another batch blanching. Blanching inactivates the enzymes that are present in vegetables that mature the vegetable or fruit. Blanching will allow you to freeze the green beans while maintaining their color, texture, and flavor. The color of the beans are just beautiful.
I drain them and them pack them tightly into quart-sized freezer bags, label them with crop and date and then arrange them in the freezer. In January when the sky is grey and temperatures are frigid, we can walk to the deep-freeze and pull out a bag of ‘fresh-picked’ green beans to enjoy.
|4 quarts of fresh green beans ready for the deep freeze|
One gallon frozen and (hopefully) many more to go. I’m thinking about pickling some green beans and also canning a few as well.