Kathy’s Home & Garden Tips – Freezing and Preparing Green Beans

With our good weather in Chicago this summer, we’ve had an abundance of green beans. Thankfully, they are very easy to freeze, enjoy, and prepare for easy recipes through the long winter months.

Always freeze beans as soon as possible after picking. Choose beautiful beans that are not wilted and without blemishes. Cut off the stem end and the other tapered end, if you like. Beans  may either be frozen whole or cut into 1-inch pieces. If you choose to cut them, you can also cut off blemishes.

Beans must be quick cooked (blanched) before freezing. Bring a large pot of salted water, at least a gallon, to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water ready. Boil the beans for three minutes; two minutes for small French beans and four minutes for very thick varieties. Remove with a wire strainer and immediately plunge in the ice water to stop cooking. Drain well when cool. Drop onto paper towels and dry as well as possible.

You can use freezer containers, but I prefer freezer bags. I think they use much less freezer space, in addition to less freezer burn, as it’s easier to squeeze out more air. That is the most important thing in freezing: to have your bags as airtight as possible. Pack beans into the bags and shake to compact the beans. Leave a little space at the top for expansion. Seal ¾ of the way, squeezing as much air out as you can. Insert a straw and suck out even more, then close the bag. Place in a single layer in the freezer to freeze quickly; you can pack in layers later.

Green beans are versatile and can be cooked quickly and tastily. Remember, however you cook them, crisp-tender is best! Here are three delicious and easy recipes. Bacon and brown butter beans can be put together in minutes. Brown a few chopped slices of bacon or pancetta. Remove the bacon to drain. Cook a sliced shallot in the drippings till browned and crispy. Move to the paper towel with the bacon. Remove remaining drippings and melt a tablespoon of butter till fragrant and slightly brown; add beans and bacon and toss. Top with the crispy shallots and slivered almonds. Parsley green beans are a quick and tasty recipe! Add cooked beans to three tablespoons foaming, melted butter. Add chopped flat leaf parsley and two cloves crushed garlic. Cook till heated through, being careful not to burn the garlic. Voila! Finally, beans are not usually thought of as a roasting vegetable, but they do well. Toss whole raw beans with thin wedges of fresh beets, sliced shallot, and extra virgin olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes at 350. Keep an eye on them, roast till crisp-tender. Serve topped with walnuts and crumbled feta or goat cheese. Yum!