Sunday, May 6, 2012

Preserving the Harvest: Green Beans

beans in the early spring, before the warm weather growth
   Warm temperatures bring with them the blessings of bountiful harvest and right now my bountiful harvest is green beans. One day alone brought in four baskets of tender green beans; and the need for preserving. For me, green beans are a staple garden harvest; heavy yielding, easy to grow, light on the maintenance.
one year Scarlet runner beans were grown; they sadly lose their beautiful color when cooked

   My favorite garden varieties are Kentucky Runner and Contender; both bush and vine variety. Bush crops are always planted in large wide rows with soaker hoses woven throughout the bushes. When pests make their appearance light sprayings of insecticidal soap with neem is applied in late afternoon. Bush plants, planted near the tomatoes, and vine plants, set to trail the corn crop, always bless us with heavy bounty harvested every other the baskets full.
   When it comes to preserving our green bean harvest, my primary method is freezing..though canning is a close second. Freezing retains the freshness and color of the green bean and stores well no matter what the humidity level. As for canning, I have to use a pressure canner for vegetable crops and have minimal success keeping them fresh for long periods of time.
snapping beans can be a dull task, I take every opportunity to double, I am home schooling while prepping beans for blanching
Once harvested, the green beans are picked and snapped. I remove the blossom end and the bottom before snapping the beans into bite size pieces.

when rinsing, I move the beans in the water to prevent garden gunk from sticking
  They are rinsed several times in cool tap water to remove any garden debris. Meanwhile salted water is set to boil, ice water is prepared for the blanching processes.
tongs and ladles are valuable helps when blanching
  Fresh snapped beans are placed in the boiling water in small batches. Now, I am not one to rely on a timer, so for me, the water is allowed to return to a boil and remain there until the beans 'brighten'. Beans are ready when the color deepens or they are crisp/tender then plunged into an ice water bath to stop the cooking.
let them air before packing
  Before packaging them to freeze, the beans are spread out on an towel and left to dry a bit. This prevents sticking together in one solid bean mass when they are frozen.
pack and label so beans stack well
   Blanched and dry green beans are packaged in resealable bags and stacked in the freezer for later use. Perfect for soups, sides, or even thawed and eaten straight up!


garden link up


Greg and Donna said...

Oh wow! You are ahead of me in the green bean harvest. Ours are just little tiny beans right now. I can probably pick in about a week or so!

J.E. Traweek said...

Those you gave me were so delish!
Thanks for the blessing!

Natalie said...

I am going to plant extra green beans this year (still 2 weeks till planting for me though) in the hopes of having enough to can (for the first time ever). Last year, I froze them all and we ran out in October.
Thanks for sharing your tips.