Green beans or Snap beans are one of my favorite foods to preserve. I find the entire process very satisfying. From picking the rows of beans and filling up 5-gallon buckets, washing and snipping the ends to preserving the harvest. Green beans are indeed one of the vegetables that I remember working on as a kid. I don’t recall being very fond of it then, but I sure find it enjoyable at this point. I’ll be working hard the next two seasons to preserve enough to send off with our son to college.
Freezing is perhaps the simplest way to preserve beans. The only downfall is ensuring you have enough freezer space for storage. We have several chest freezers going based on our needs throughout the year.
Not only is freezing beans one of the easiest ways to preserve your harvest but this method also retains more nutrients in the beans than pressure canning.
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Bowl or Bucket (depending on the amount you are picking)
Optional Vacuum Sealer
Beans are best picked once they reach 4 inches in length and are the diameter of a pencil or pen. I like to pick them before you are able to see where the seeds are within the bean. At that point, they are generally too large to have nice flavor and texture. In past years, I’ve preserved these as well but batch them with like-sized beans. The key to selecting the best size is to diligently check your beans for growth on a daily basis and then once you begin picking, be sure to continue to pick daily or every other day until your season is finished.
- To pick the bean, simply tug on the bean near the stem and use your other hand to hold the plant to ensure you do not damage the plant. You should continue to get beans from the plant for a couple weeks.
- Wash your beans thoroughly to remove all dirt and dried blossom ends. I like to spray them down in the bucket I’ve picked in and then pour all into a strainer in my kitchen sink. You could just as easily do this outside with your garden hose sprayer and a strainer.
- The next step is to snip the ends of the beans. Some people simply snap both the tip and the stem end with their fingers. I prefer to use a paring knife to do the snipping. A pair of scissors can also work well, provided it is sharp and doesn’t crush the bean. Occasionally I’ve used a cutting board and placed a handful of beans down and snipped the ends this way as well. My preference is to simply hold a handful and use the paring knife to take care of the ends. Be sure to save your ends for your compost pile.
- The final step in preparing the beans is to cut them to the length you prefer. This will depend on what you will do with the beans. Generally, for freezing and canning, I like to cut these into 1-inch pieces, but if you want to french slice the bean, you will leave them a longer length.
- Blanche the beans. Blanching stops enzymes which decompose your produce. Freezing can slow the enzymes but doesn’t stop them as blanching does. Working in small batches, place your beans into boiling water, boil for 2-4 minutes depending on the size of your beans. Small beans – 2 minutes, medium beans – 3 minutes, and large beans – 4 minutes.
- Using a colander, carefully drain the boiling water from your beans and immediately place them into ice water to prevent the beans from cooking. Once beans are cool, drain the ice water.
- If working with freezer bags, label them before packing the bags with the name of the product and the date. Pack the beans into the bag, leaving enough space to close it. I like to measure serving sizes and uniformly pack each bag based on what is needed for a meal or specific recipes I like to use. Shake the bag to ensure the beans settle then squeeze out as much air from the bag as you are able.
- Another option is to use a vacuum sealer. Cut and seal the bags to the desirable size, label the bags, then seal following the directions for the sealer you are using. I absolutely love our vacuum sealer and use it for many things besides freezing beans, such as when buying bulk from the grocery store and I want to make smaller serving sizes before freezing, for berries that we pick (freeze first and then seal), and for processing our own game.
Best of luck to you!
Tips for Success:
- Gather your supplies ahead of time to ensure you have what you need. It’s very frustrating to find you don’t have enough bags on hand to finish your project.
- Use a sharp knife for snipping & cutting. This makes your work quicker, and your beans will not be macerated in the process.
- Pick after the morning dew has evaporated or when the beans are dry if the weather is rainy. This will help to prevent the spread of diseases between plants.