Green beans, also known as French beans, are one of the most commonly consumed vegetables. Besides their good taste, they are known for their high nutritional value. They are a rich source of iron, vitamin A, C, riboflavin, thiamin, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, copper, phosphorous, manganese, and dietary fibers. You can make a wide variety of tasty dishes using them. Since they are perishable, you need to preserve them using proper methods. They can be preserved easily, and you can enjoy their great flavor and nutritional value throughout the year. You can preserve them by freezing or canning.
Freezing the Beans
Freezing is the easiest and less time-consuming way to preserve these fresh summer green beans for a longer time. A selection of fresh stock is very important during the freezing process. If you are picking them from your garden, then you should pick fresh, smooth, crisp, and fully-grown ones. The inner part should be small and tender. Avoid choosing tough, lumpy, or stringy ones. Bulges and lumps indicate that they are over-ripe. When purchasing them from a market, select smooth and bright ones. Avoid choosing those that are limp and wilted, yellowed and pale, or blemished and wrinkled.
To preserve their freshness and quality, they should be blanched before freezing. Fresh vegetables usually consist of certain enzymes and bacteria, which can change the color, texture, and flavor of the vegetables and destroy the nutrients, even after freezing. During blanching process, these enzymes as well as bacteria and dirt are removed. During this process, the beans are first immersed in boiling water and then transferred to cold water, in order to cool and stop them from getting blanched further.
Blanching should be done, just enough to prevent the action of enzymes and kill the bacteria. They should be cooled, or they will continue to cook and become soft. The correct boiling time for them is about 3 to 3 ½ minutes and cooling time is the same. One gallon of water is required to blanch one pound of this fresh green vegetable.
Here are some important steps in the freezing process:
- Remove the stem ends and strings if any. Then cut them into pieces of your choice.
- Keep them in a big strainer or colander and rinse thoroughly in cold or lukewarm water.
- Bring the water to a full rolling boil in a large stockpot. Add them to boiling water, taking care that they are completely immersed. Cover the pot and start the timer as soon as they are immersed. Keep the water boiling for about 3 to 3 ½ minutes.
- Take them out of the boiling water and immediately keep them in a large pot containing ice water. Cool them for about 3 to 3 ½ minutes.
- When they are completely cooled, drain them in a big strainer.
- Place cooled beans into freezer bags. Press out the air from the bags and seal the bags tightly. Store these bags in the freezer.
Only heavy-duty plastic bags that are particularly made for the freezer storage should be used. They should be used within 12 months of packing.