Yes, it’s the all-exciting post you’ve been waiting for. But I have to tell you, if you grow green beans, or even find a plethora of gorgeous green beans at the farmer’s market, you need to know that they freeze beautifully.
The first key is – freeze them as soon as possible. The longer veggies sit, the more their natural sugars turn to starch. This being said, it’s usually 3-4 days of picking them from my garden before I get to the freezing part. I pick them, lightly rinse them and weed out any bad ones, and then pile them into a sealed storage container or storage bag in my crisper until I’m ready to go.
Here’s my latest haul from the garden – this is about 4 days worth from 8 bush -type plants:
When you’re ready to freeze them, gently wash them again and snap off the stem end of the bean. (the part where it’s been detached from the plant) Discard any that are overly large or have bruising or damage.
Now, you’re going to blanch them. Blanching veggies before freezing is a must-do. This has to do with the enzymes in fresh veggies and blanching them preserves their color and flavor when freezing. I’ve done this process for so many years that I admit I try and find the most time-effective way of doing it, while also involving the least amount of dishes to be washed.
A key to this process is this: Do them in small batches. The water boils faster, the beans cook faster and more evenly, and you’ll be happier with the end result.
Are you ready?
Add about 1 inch of water to a large pan and cover. Bring to a rolling boil. Add about 2 healthy handfuls of green beans to the water, stir them well, cover, and bring back to a quick boil.
Let them go about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. In the meantime, get a large glass of ice ready. You want the beans to turn a bright green before putting them in their ice bath.
When your 90 seconds is up, safely remove the pan of beans from the stove, place in the sink and run cold water over them. Drain them, add more cold water and cup of ice. Let the beans cool for a few minutes.
What the ice water does is stop the cooking process, which is essential. Transfer your cooled beans to a colander.
See how they’re bright green now? That’s all you need – you don’t want to fully cook them, just change their enzyme structure. Here’s a shot of fresh green beans and blanched green beans, side by side:
Dry your pan and repeat this process until all your beans are blanched. Dry your beans on paper towels or a clean towel. The less water you have on the veggies before freezing, the better.
Now you’re ready to package them for the freezer.
Vacuum pack them in serving sizes that are right for you. For me, it’s just my husband and I, so I don’t do them in huge batches. If we’re serving them for the holidays or a dinner party, I simply thaw more than 1 package. Be sure to write the date on the package with a permanent marker.
Put your sealed veggies in the fridge for about 2 hours before putting in the freezer – this also helps ease the freezing process and will assure you the best quality frozen veggies.