I know that canning and freezing produce sounds really daunting to many people and so this year, I decided to do a couple of tutorials and show you just how simple the process really is.
I’m starting with how to freeze green beans because not only are they probably one of the easiest things to preserve, I also just got done doing 1½ bushels of them and actually managed to take a few pictures as I was doing it. (Not an easy feat when you have 3 children interrupting your process!) Besides, green beans are one of those things that just taste so much better when you preserve them yourself. Just recently I saw a great deal on some frozen beans at the store and so I decided to buy a couple of bags thinking it would help stretch our supply. I made them for our dinner one night and after one bite my husband commented, “It’s no wonder so many people don’t like vegetables!” And honestly, I had to agree. They just were nowhere near as tasty as the ones that I preserve and freeze!
You can preserve your beans by canning or freezing them. If you choose to can them you need to use a pressure canner since using a regular canner doesn’t reach high enough temps to kill the bacteria that causes botulism. I find the pressure canning process rather time consuming and tedious plus it also makes the beans less nutritious. Did you know that frozen veggies and fruit have almost as much nutritional value as when they are fresh? So I choose to simply freeze our green beans which you’ll see, is amazingly super simple to do.
First of all, here are the tools you’ll for the job: * Dish pan(s) or container to put the beans in * Knife if you don’t want to use your fingers to trim the beans * Blancher (can use a big pot too but it gets kind of complicated when it comes time to drain the beans and cool them quickly) – Don’t have a blancher and don’t want to buy one? See if you can find a friend that has one that you could borrow. * Freezer bags or freezer boxes to store the beans
Okay, let’s channel your inner Ma Ingals and get started!
1. Remove ends and defective spots and if you have true “string” beans, remove the strings too. Technically you don’t have to remove the tail end of the bean, just the end that was attached to the stalk. However I don’t like the look of leaving them on so I (and most people) remove them too.
2. Break or cut the beans into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces. This is a step that even little children can help with- in fact, they often think it is fun!
3. Wash the beans thoroughly. I like to put a dishpan full of beans in my sink and then just fill it with water. Swish the beans around really good to work any dirt loose.
4. Move the beans over to the colander insert of your blancher, filling it to just below the ridge. Basically you want the beans to not go above the top row of holes so that they will be covered with water during the blanching process.
5. Fill the kettle part of the blancher about 2/3 to 3/4 full with water. You don’t want it too full because the water level will rise once you put the colander full of beans into it. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil.
6. Slowly (this is important so that the water doesn’t go splashing out!) insert the colander full of beans into the boiling water. Once you put the beans in, the water will stop boiling.
7. Watch the pot carefully and once the water comes to a rolling boil again, remove the beans immediately. You basically just want to slightly cook the beans. (In the picture above I wasn’t watching the pot closely enough and it had been boiling for a bit when I noticed it. You don’t really want that much of a boil! It isn’t tragic, but the beans just won’t taste quite as good.)
8. While you are waiting for the beans to boil, draw some cold water (the colder the better) in a dishpan or sink. Once you remove the beans from the boiling water, submerse the colander into the cold water and cool the beans down as fast as possible. It helps to swish the colander around in the water, keep the water running, use your hands to move the beans around and even change the water if necessary.
9. Once beans are nice and cool, drain the water off of them.
10. Put the blanced beans in freezer bags or freezer boxes and freeze immediately. I typically use freezer boxes to freeze our food just because I like the way they store and it’s also cheaper in the long run since you can use them over and over and over.
And you’re done! Pat yourself on the back, put up your feet and relax a bit!
Have a question about one of the steps? Feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer it for you!
I recently bought some fresh green beans from a local produce farm and it made me hungry for this Cheesy Ham, Potato & Green Bean Casserole. So I made it for dinner the other night and we all enjoyed it- even the children! My 5 yr. old kept telling me how good it was and asked for multiple servings, which is always a nice compliment!
This dish can be a bit more time consuming to put together than some, but you if you work smart it’s not that bad. I like to cook the green beans and potatoes together in the same kettle to save me dishes. Or sometimes I’ll have baked potatoes earlier in the week and intentionally make extra to use in this dish. You can also save yourself a dish if you melt the butter for the topping in the same pan that you mixed the cheese sauce in. If you are like me, the less you have to clean up and wash the better!
While I think this casserole is delicious just as it is, don’t be scared to tweak it to fit your taste! Add in some basil or onion or up the black pepper for a bit more kick. It’s a great dish to play around with!