Thursday, August 4, 2011

Summer Harvest: Freezing Green Beans

Hopefully, your summer harvest is going well, and you're loaded with so many green beans and tomatoes that you don't know what to do with them.  :)  If that's not the case, it's okay because this preservation technique will work with store bought (or farmers market bought) beans as well.

What you need:

Green beans
Sauce pan
Freezer bags

Here's what you do:

1.  Boil water and season with salt.  This increases the boiling point of the water so the temps can get just a bit hotter.

2.  While water is coming to a boil, prepare the green beans.  I generally cut of the ends, and then cut them into sizes that will fit in the bags and wash them.

3.  Prepare ice water in a bowl.

4.  Now we'll do what's called blanching.  I generally do this in small batches because I never think to use a large pan.  You just want to make sure you don't over crowd the beans in the pan, as that will change the temp of the water, and make it not as efficient in blanching.  I also do things in small batches because it's much easier to not over-blanch them when you only deal with small batches.

4a.  So, to blanch the beans, put the beans (in small batches) into the boiling water.  I stir a bit to make sure the beans have evenly spread in the water.

4b.  Keep the beans in for  3 minutes.

4c.  After 3 minutes, take the beans out of the boiling water, and quickly submerge them into the ice water.  Keep them there for several minutes til they are no longer warm.  This basically shocks the bean and stops the cooking.  It's how you get the nice bright green color in frozen beans.

5.  Remove the beans from the ice water, and dry them.  You can now stick them in freezer bags and put them in the freezer ready for use at a future date.

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