Preserving Your Harvest: Green Beans

It's that time of year again! The gardens are getting ready to harvest and it's time to get to work in order to preserve what you've grown. Most of our vegetables are still ripening, but one of our green bean crops was ready to go.

I don't have my own pressure canner, so I have to improvise with low acid foods. Please note: never ever can low acid foods in just a water bath. It cannot kill all of the bacteria! Low acid foods need to be canned in a pressure canner in order to safely and properly preserve them. Like I said, I don't have my own, my green bean crop was ready to go, so I picked the next best thing. I decided to freeze them.

Freezing beans (or any vegetable for that matter) is a super simple, economical way to preserve your harvest. We don't have a ton of freezer space (we are avid hunters), but I can squeeze in some bags of vegetables of fruit here and there. Until we have the funds to purchase a new pressure canner, I will continue to sneak my garden into the freezer ;).

We planted a top crop bush bean this year. We had a very small place to plant, no way to put up a trellis, and these are space savers. I also loved that they are exactly what they say, a top crop. All of the beans are right where you can find them and easy to pull. This crop only yielded me about 1 pound. It was only two plants. We staggered our planting since it is our first year planting this particular bean. I have a total of 8 plants. We planted two at a time and they are all thriving. While probably not near enough for my family to last us until the next harvest season, I can pick up more at the local farmers market to get us through.

Now, onto the goodies! How to preserve your green beans (without a pressure canner, but you need a freezer!!

  1.  Obviously, you need to remove your beans from the plant.
  2. Bring them inside and wash them off, get off all of the dirt and such.
  3. Fill a pot large enough to put a bunch in with water and place it on the stove to boil.
  4. Snap off the ends and either snap, or cut the beans into 1-2 inch pieces. Rinse for good measure.
  5. Once your pot of water is at a rapid boil, pour your rinsed cut beans into the pot.
  6. Boil them for 3 minutes at a constant, rapid boil.
  7. While they are boiling, prepare a bowl full of ice water.
  8. After they have boiled continuously for 3 minutes, drain them.
  9. Immediately place the hot beans in the icy water, leave them for 3 minutes.
  10. Drain the icy water off of the beans.
  11. Place them in a freezer safe bag, label (including date) and place them in the freezer immediately. Make sure you get as much air as possible out of the bag to help prevent freezer burn.
  12. When you are ready to prepare them, you will do so just like you would any frozen green bean. Or any green bean for that matter, just takes a little extra time since they are frozen. You CAN thaw these and use them like fresh beans if you don't want the extra water content in your dish.
That's it!! It is so easy. You can also reuse your blanching water about 4 times before it needs replaced, if you have a lot of bunches to do. Just make sure to add water as needed to keep the beans covered.

I love to hear from my readers! Do you have a different method you prefer to preserve your green beans? Have you ever preserved a harvest before, or are you completely new to the idea? Let me know!