Preserving Summer’s Bounty: How to Freeze Green Beans
Right off the bat, I’d just want to say that I’d really like to change the title of this blog post to: “Why I chose freezing my beans over pressure canning them”. I have so much to say about this! But knowing how search engines work on the internet, “How to Freeze Green Beans” is a better title. With that being said, it’s almost green bean season, and I wanted to share with you how to preserve your surplus of green beans (whether from your garden, the local farmers’ market, or your grocery store) to put up food for the winter. Whenever I say the phrase, “Put up food for the winter”, I giggle because it makes me feel all pioneer-y, but every time I pull out a jar or a frozen ziploc of something I grew and preserved, it is really rewarding.
For the past few years, I have pressure canned my beans. Pressure canning is a method of canning that is used for most vegetables and involves a little more work. Pressure canning is necessary to do for vegetables instead of water bath canning because of bacteria, but the whole process takes quite a bit of time and a bit more labor. This year, I have discovered the new world of roasting and sauteing my veggies, so I have decided to blanch and freeze my garden veggies. Here are the main reasons why:
- It takes less time. I can blanch, chill, and seal a package of green beans in about 10 minutes. With a pressure canner, I am committed for nearly 2 hours to the kitchen.
- It is less work. There are no canning jars and lids to sterilize and prep, and with a pressure canner, you have to be vigilant about maintaining the proper amount of pressure in the canner, which is annoying.
- You can work in smaller batches. Every 2-3 days, I pick about 1/2 gallon of fresh green beans from my garden. If I know I am not going to use them within the next few days, I blanch and freeze them. With pressure canning, it’s advantageous to do a large batch of beans all at the same time, generally over 10 pounds.
- The beans taste fresher and are more versatile. Frozen green beans that have been blanched maintain a better color and texture and can easily be stir fried, sauteed, or roasted. Canned beans are slightly gray, a little mushy, and a little less tasteful (in my opinion).
The only downside to freezing green beans (that I can see) is that you need to have the freezer space. And because I have a chest freezer, this isn’t an issue for me. So, let me show you how I freeze my green beans…and hopefully over the next few weeks, you can preserve your own for the winter.
1. Pick your green beans.
Pick green beans when they are firm and mature…about 5-6″ long. Make sure they aren’t over ripe; they will be kind of dry at that point. You might be growing your own, or have found a great sale on beans at the store or farmers’ market.
2. Prep your green beans.
Once picked, wash and pat dry your beans. The fresher the beans are for prepping, the better they will taste. Once clean, break off the top of the bean where it was connected to the plant. I like to leave the bean in its most natural state rather than breaking them into 1″ pieces, but you can do whatever you want.
3. Blanch your green beans.
Apparently I didn’t set my camera on “action shot”, right? Sorry about that. Heat water in a soup pot and once boiling, toss your green beans in the pot. Boil for 2 minutes. Boiling them does a few things: it rids them of any bacteria and also helps them to keep a beautiful green color during freezing.
4. Shock your green beans.
Shocking is simply immersing them in ice water. The ice water stops the heating process so they don’t continue to cook after the blanching process. Generally speaking, if you blanch for 2 minutes, then shock for 2 minutes.
5. Dry your green beans.
To eliminate as much frost as possible, try to dry off your beans as much as you can. The wetter they are, the more frost when you freeze.
6. Freeze your green beans.
There are a few ways you can go with this:
- You can lay them out on a cooking sheet and freeze them (similar to this post) so they aren’t in a frozen clump. This way, you can store them in a gallon ZipLoc and use what you need without having to defrost.
- You can also simply place them in a quart ZipLoc bag and suck out as much air as possible upon freezing.
- Or you can use a FoodSaver! I recently picked up one at a local garage sale for $3 and am in love with this little gadget. With my FoodSaver, I was able to vacuum seal the amount of green beans I wanted in each individual bag, and it eliminates any frost build up in your bags upon freezing. Plus with the vacuum seal, the bags take up less space in my freezer, allowing me more room for other food for the winter.
I simply followed the directions on the packaging and ended up having nifty packages of green beans proportioned out for my family of 4 for any meal.
7. Label and date your green beans.
Frozen veggies can last up to a year in a deep freezer, so be sure to label and date your packaging to make sure it gets used within the year.
Do I have you
converted convinced yet? If canning green beans is what you want to do but you don’t quite know how to do it, please leave me a comment. If I have a large enough response, I will do a batch in my pressure canner and show you step by step how to do it.
Alright friends, enjoy the sun and this fab weather we are having. Happy Monday!