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Freezing Green Beans: Tips for a faster blanching process, if you blanch

July 23, 2014

We got back from vacation last Sunday and boy-oh-boy did our garden explode while we were gone. Monday my hubby picked me a boat load of green beans– about 10 gallons (measuring from a big tub we used). So guess what I’ve been doing since then ?!

I hope you like green beans. Because if we have you over our house for dinner we will probably serve green beans. 😉

So part of this process has been choosing how to process the green beans. We are experimenting with blanching some beans before freezing and not blanching others. Science says blanching is necessary so that enzymes- the things that help you digest the food and which also happen to survive freezing temperatures – die and don’t cause the beans to degrade in the freezer. But word on the street (a.k.a. blogosphere) is that blanching is not necessary even to keep your beans in the freezer for a year. And, I am interested in keeping the enzymes for good digestion after consumption. So, we have decided to experiment with both methods.

The main reason people dislike blanching is because it is time-consuming. But in my green-bean processing today I have come up with a few time-saving tips (this assumes you already know how to blanch, do an ice bath, etc.):

-Use an electric kettle to heat your water. If you don’t have one of these, it’s about time.  It boils water in about a fourth the time it takes on the stove, depending on the quality of the kettle.  Great for teatime.  Anyway, here’s how to use it to save time for blanching (not just for that- pasta water too).  Fill a pot with an inch or two of water, and put on high on your burner to bring it to a boil.  In the meantime, boil 1-2 quarts of water in your electric kettle.  Both will boil around the same time…in about 5 mins.  Pour the kettle water into the pot, and voila! You have boiling water on the stove without having to wait 15 minutes!

Use kitchen scissors to snap the ends off your beans.  No more using your gritty fingernails, or lining them up on a cutting board to chop.  And just snip the ends off into your bowl of to-be-snipped-beans.  Don’t bother separating them into another container or pile.  Seconds add up, man.

Keep your beans whole.  I might regret this because I have to cut things up for a toddler.  But Matt and I like whole green beans better…it looks fancy. And it saves time not having to cut them during the freezing process.

Keep your blanching water hot, and recycle it.  Instead of pouring the beans and water through a standing colander/strainer, us a small mesh strainer with a handle to scoop your beans out of the boiling water and into the ice bath.  While that batch of beans is cooling, put more beans in the hot water and set the timer again (3 mins).  Stir the cooling beans around with a (clean) hand until cool (about 30 seconds) and divvy into freezer bags/containers.  By the time you are done with this your timer will beep. (Each of my batches was just a few handfuls).  No standing-around-waiting time, I was constantly busy.  If I needed to take a break from the blanching (i.e. toddler needs attention), I made sure to turn off the water but also put the lid on so it didn’t cool off too much. (Note: I started over with fresh water after several batches).

Tip from my MIL (Mother in Law): In advance, save up lots of ice in your freezer for your ice baths!  I did not do this.  I regretted it today and had to use a frozen gallon of water instead.  Don’t be like me.

-Don’t label your bags with the whole date- just one number. Each day you freeze, go up a number.  So my first day of freezing is day 1,  next day is day 2, etc.  So this upcoming year when I am getting beans to cook I will just grab the lowest number available.  As I said, seconds add up.  Don’t waste time writing the whole date when you can just write one number!

-Listen to an audio book while you are snapping (snipping) and blanching.  It makes the time go more quickly.  Today I listened to Little Women.  There is a free version on youtube! 🙂

Happy Green-Bean-ing!




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