I love growing green beans in my garden. For one thing, the seedlings emerge within just a few days. (Remember those grade-school science projects with sprouting bean seeds?) And the plants mature to production fairly quickly compared to other summer produce. I can do several successive plantings and have fresh garden-grown green beans from mid-July through fall.
I’m rather particular about my green beans; rather than the Blue Lake pole beans commonly found at farmers’ markets (which I find tough and stringy), I prefer the French or filet varieties, whose slender, deep green pods are tender and sweet. And I like to pick them on the small side. All these beans need is a quick go-round in a hot pan with some olive oil (or bacon!), salt and pepper.
Right now, I’m picking more garden green beans than we can eat within a couple of days. So I am putting them up so we can enjoy them over the winter.
Green beans are incredibly easy to preserve:
- Rinse and trim the stem ends (to make this easy, stack a handful of green beans so that the stems line up, and cut them off with a sharp knife).
- Bring a pan of unsalted water to a boil; a wide, shallow skillet works well. Fill a large bowl with ice water.
- Blanch the beans in boiling water for 2 minutes.
- Immediately transfer the beans to the bowl of ice water; submerge to stop the cooking and cool them for about 10 minutes.
- Remove the cooled green beans to a clean kitchen towel to dry.
- Transfer beans to a parchment-lined baking sheet (you can stack several layers) and freeze them until they’re firm, about 1 hour.
- Transfer the beans to quart-size freezer bags; mark the date on the bag.
Later, I’ll take my preserved green beans out of the freezer about a half hour before I want to cook them. I’ll give them a quick (5 minutes or so) sauté in some olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Summer, in winter.