Last year we simply took the ends off of the green beans, washed them, dried them and then stuck them in freezer bags and called it a day. They were good, however, we noticed that we had to cook them a lot more than normal and that had us a bit frustrated. As far as we are concerned when you are preserving in season it should be better than what you can buy in the store, am I right?
Well, we had this whole debate last year over blanching. Some people will tell you that blanching is for stopping bacterial growth. Others will say that its to preserve the color. Some will say that when you freeze you don't need to blanch because they both stop the aging process and that is ultimately what you looking for. Look, I'm not sure that I really care about any of those arguments because in the end, let's just do what works and tastes the best!
This year when it came to green beans, we decided we better blanch them....for taste and cooking purposes. One problem: we had a heck of a lot of beans. A heck of a lot.
Blanching seemed in some ways not very practical....that is, until we remembered that my dad had gotten me an awesome lobster pot for Christmas this year. So, rather than boiling the beans, we steamed them and then plunged them in ice water. I saw online that someone called it "steam blanching." I just call it "awesome." It saved us a ton of time.
The sheer number of these we had was pretty amazing. We cut them in half to have them all a uniform size (and good for soups!!!). We put them in our steamer and then steamed them for ten minutes.
If you have a smaller batch, you can steam yours for 3 minutes...we found it took the steam a bit to rise in our rather large pot.
See? The lobster pot made an excellent veggie steamer for this large batch!
Then we threw them in the ice water. It doesn't look very icey right now.....but there were a heck of a lot of beans!!!
Then we laid them out on a towel and patted them dry. We also gave them a couple of minutes to air dry. You can let them dry completely if you have them time...but I have issues with being patient, so....
Then you bag them! Now, we did ours in these gallon freezer bags and we laid them flat in a single layer for freezing. I have a vacuum sealer, but sometimes I prefer the Ziploc bags. I know this might seem counterintuitive, but the Ziploc bags can be convenient for opening and grabbing a few and then resealing... (I like to save my pricer vacuum bags for meats and stuff.)
AND, you always want to make sure you are dating your bags...because there is a fine line between food preservation and food hoarding. Trust me.
Have you got any tips for preserving in season foods? Share them with me in the comments section below!!!