Summer 2013 harvest: Blanching green beans

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One of my biggest challenges in growing a large vegetable garden is to find ways to preserve the harvest so that we can enjoy homegrown fruits and vegetables into the winter – and, find time to do the preserving!  The great thing about green beans is that the process for preparing and freezing them is quick and easy.

The most important step is to pick them on time – once they start to grow, they grow big so quickly that if you don’t pick pretty much every other day, they get away from you and by the time you pick them, they’re too big and too tough.  I let mine go too long this time, and had to toss all the really big ones in the compost, but I ended up with enough to freeze two quart bags full.

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First, snap off the ends and cut (or I just snap) the beans into smaller pieces.  Then, dump them into a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes.  This is called blanching – it destroys enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down and destroy nutrients and change the color, flavor and texture of the beans during frozen storage.

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Watch the time, because you don’t want to overcook the beans.  Next, drain the hot water out by dumping the potful of beans into a colander, then immediately put the beans into ice water for 5 minutes (I clean out one side of the sink and fill it with cold water and ice cubes).  This stops them from continuing to cook.

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Finally, put the beans into quart or gallon-sized Ziploc bags – push as much air out as you can before sealing to prevent freezer burn.

 

 

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