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Freezing fresh green beans is the quickest and easiest way to put aside some of your summer harvest for later. Whether you have rows and rows of slender beans or teepees full to the top with bright green goodness, you may need a way to preserve them. In our kitchen garden this year, we have two teepees full of Kentucky Blue Pole Beans leftover from last year’s seeds. (If you’re ever unsure about whether last year’s seeds are still good, try this quick test.)
My Granny always canned her green beans, and they were a treat straight from the jar, cold. True story. But canning takes time that I don’t usually have, so freezing saves time an space on my pantry shelves. If you’re growing beans, even in a small kitchen garden, then you know beans grow quickly. This means I may be able to freeze a quart bag a week, while still having them for dinner one night. That’s not too shabby for only using half of a 4×4 raised bed for growing beans.
And for those non-gardeners out there, this method also works for those grocery store or farmer’s market beans that just didn’t get used. Sometimes we have great intentions for dinner that just don’t pan out. You can easily freeze them and save them for later!
Harvesting Green Beans
I love to have the little gardeners help with harvesting green beans. They can’t reach the top of the teepees, but they can certainly cover most of the bottom. In fact, last week I sent Girly Gardener out with our Dollar Store Garden Basket and told her to bring in beans for dinner. She loved helping out, and I was thrilled at being able to continue working on the rest of dinner.
Try to pick your beans when they’re still a bit tender, and not overly large and tough. I have a whole post on how to harvest beans, so check it out! Now on to the instructions!
How to Freeze Green Beans
- Pick your beans from the garden (or the Farmer’s Market), and wash them in a colander. Take beans one or two at a time out of the colander and snap off the ends. If a bean is particularly long, then go ahead and snap it in half.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. I added a pinch of salt to mine, but that is completely optional. While the water is warming up, grab a large bowl and fill halfway with ice, then add enough water to cover the ice. Once the pot is at a rolling boil, add in snapped beans.
- Set a timer for 3 minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, remove pot from heat. Quickly drain beans, and dump them in your ice water bath. This stops the cooking process. Your beans will be a beautiful bright green color, just from the few minutes in the pot.
- Allow the beans to sit in the ice water for 5 minutes, or until cooled. Then drain beans and place on a clean kitchen cloth to dry a little before freezing.
- The beans do not have to be “dry,” but I let them sit for ten minutes or so, usually while i’m doing something else. Then label and date quart-sized freezer bags and fill them with your blanched beans. Place bags in the freezer, and use whenever needed as a side dish or as an add in for those winter vegetable soups!
And that’s all there is to it to put some fresh green beans away for using later. From snapping to bagging, this may take 20 minutes, which is a far shorter time than canning. You can even put those snapped ends out in the compost pile or feed them to your chickens! You’ll feel like a homesteader with all of this resourcefulness! Have a great week and happy gardening!