Valerie and I LOVE garden green beans! They are one of our favorite garden treats in the summer time! Nothing quite compares to a plate full of lightly steamed beans as a side dish to our summer evening meals.
Both our parents canned green beans, and so did we for the first 10 or so years of our gardening adventures. But canned garden beans are just not the same as those picked fresh from the garden, they always seem over cooked and mushy to me. So over the years we have slowly gravitated to freezing green beans instead of canning. Frozen beans are much more like the real thing!! You can use them as a side dish, in soups, casseroles and much more. And the great thing about frozen beans is if done correctly they taste almost as good as when you picked them from the garden!
So here’s how to freeze green beans in 6 easy steps!
Step 1: Choose only the best quality beans
It is important to choose beans that are at their peak! Green beans should be picked when the beans are about as thick around as a pencil. If you let them go too long they become stringy, tough and possibly even moldy inside. So after you have picked them be sure to go through your harvest and toss any that are damaged, rotten or too big!
Step 2: Wash them thoroughly
Be sure to remove any dirt and bugs by soaking them in a big bowl of water. Let them sit submerged in the water for about 5 minutes, then swish them around a bit in the water and rinse them off well.
Step 3: Snip off the tips
We don’t like the tips of beans, they are tougher than the rest of the bean so we snap them off. This takes a bit of work but we go through and snap off about 1/8 inch off each end of the bean. While you are at this you can also snap the beans to your desired length. When you can beans you break the beans into smaller pieces so that they can fit in the can, but that is another nice thing about freezing. If you like your beans to be longer then don’t bother breaking them at all, just snip off those ends.
Step 4: Blanch and cool your beans
Blanching stops the enzymes action in the beans. Those enzymes are what help the beans grow and ripen, if you try to freeze the beans without blanching the enzyme action will be slowed but not stopped, so after only a few months in the freezer your beans will become mushy and unusable.
You can either blanch your beans in boiling water or with a veggie steamer. We prefer to use a steamer because then fewer of the nutrients are cooked out in the water. Either way you should blanch for 3 minutes.
Once the blanching time is finished quickly take the beans out of the blancher and plunge them into ice water. The ice water stops the heating process so that the beans don’t actually get cooked. You want the enzyme action to stop but you don’t want to actually cook the beans. Let them sit in the ice water for 3 minutes. Then take them out of the water and let them dry a bit on a towel on the counter.
Step 5: Freeze them flat
Like all of our other frozen fruits and veggies we spread the blanched beans out on cookie sheets and put them in the freezer overnight. Freezing them flat like this before putting them in the bags prevents them from sticking together in a huge frozen clump. This way you can take just what you need from the bag and leave the rest in the freezer.
Step 6: Bag them up
We bag all our veggies in BPA free gallon sized freezer bags. Be sure to squeeze as much air out as possible before you seal the bag. Or if you have one of those awesome bag sealers that suck all the air out and seals the bag, then use that!
Frozen green beans will last 9 to 12 months in the freezer.
We use them in our hardy winter soups and casseroles and just as a tasty side dish.
One of the great benefits of freezing green beans is that you can do them in small batches. If you have a small harvest day it is easy to blanch and freeze a small batch of beans. That is so much easier than pulling out the pressure canner and having enough beans to do a whole batch!
Always remember when you are preserving foods to check the most recent preserving instructions. You can get them from the USDA, your local county extension agency or from a recently published book. We love the Ball Blue Book and use it all the time. If you are interested in getting an updated copy you can buy them on Amazon.com. I’ve added the Ball Blue Book to my recommend book list you can click there and it will take you right to Amazon where you can order your copy.