Sunday, May 23, 2010

But Is She Really Thrifty: How to Freeze Green Beans

This week at our local fruit and veg co-op we were able to get some delicious green beans.  My 15 month old LOVES green beans.  We have a few green beans growing out in the garden and I cannot keep him away from munching on them when we're out in the yard!  Needless to say, I was thrilled to get a lot of green beans from the co-op!  These beans were so fresh that we're cooking half of them and freezing the other half.  If you find yourself abounding in green beans you may want to give this a try too.  I have yet to do a forray into canning, but that's next on my list of things to learn.

 First, sort through your beans. Make sure you don't have any that you generally wouldn't want to eat: tough, old, overripe, bruising.  Throw those in the compost pile. Rinse off the beans that are "keepers" with cold water. While you're doing this, set a big pot of water on to boil.  You'll also want to get another big bowl and fill it with water and ice.

Next, snap off the ends of the green beans. Kitchen shears work well too.  Then cut the green beans into 1 to 1 1/2 inch pieces. It's totally a preference thing. I cut them smaller because of my little bean eater.  I figured about a cup of cut beans per person for a meal with my family.

Next, the actual blanching. Make sure your pot of water is up to a fat boil and throw your beans in. Have you timer ready and set it for 3 minutes.  Your pot should be hot enough (and fire high enough) to make the green beans boil again VERY quickly or else you'll need to add a minute or two.  For me (and my gas stove) it only took maybe 30 seconds for the water to get back up to a boil after adding the beans. Let it boil for three minutes. This is the recommended time to destroy enzymes and bacteria.  After three minutes of a good boil, remove the green beans.  If you're only doing one batch of beans you can use a strainer scooper (one day I'll learn it's proper name) or you can just drain the water out if you're only doing one batch. You can reuse your boil water a few times (2-3) before you need to restart with clean water.

Next is the cold water bath. Plunge the green beans into the water to stop the cooking process.  Leave the green beans in the cold water for as long as you left them in the boiling water. Three minutes boil, three minutes cold. Easy, right?  When this is done and the beans are nice and cool, use your strainer scooper again (or just dump the water). Let your beans dry for a while before freezing. Now it's time to put them away!

I've been very blessed to have a Foodsaver. My mom bought it for me years ago. Sadly, it's sat on my shelf for about that long too.  However, with this long stint of unemployment I've found it to be an incredible kitchen asset.  I make almost everything from scratch nowadays and in bulk to save myself time and money and use the Foodsaver.  Thankfully I haven't had to buy the bags yet because we've been able to reuse and use wisely the bag rolls my mom gave me with the machine.  If you don't have a Foodsaver, you can always just use the ol' straw-in-a-zippy-bag trick to get as much air out as possible. Just make sure you use a heavy-duty freezer bag for this. Make sure you label and date (I know. I snapped the picture and then did it).  Your green beans should be good in the freezer for at least 9 months.

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