Still wrangling green beans here. Six lovely quarts of dilly beans put away yesterday, and now I have nearly twenty half-pound packages of frozen beans awaiting winter. Freezing, then using frozen beans, works provisionally. Here are the provisions.
The kind of bean you use is a key to your success. Of course, it is a little late now to tell you this, but maybe you can make a note in your gardening calendar for next year. After experimentation, I found that my favorite beans for freezing are a flat Romano-style bean named Nor’easter, and a round, beautifully speckled bean called Rattlesnake. Both are pole beans, grow to a generous size without toughening, and seem to tolerate freezing well. Among bush beans, my favorite is Provider, but I still favor the poles over Provider for freezing, and I save Provider for pickling. Perhaps some of you have favorites and will tell me about them, and I will share that information here.
Using scissors, I cut the stem ends off, and snip the beans into the length I want, blanch them for one minute, then dry them on a dishtowel before spreading them in a very thin layer on a baking sheet.
I freeze the beans loose, then while they are still frozen, I knock them into zip-close bags, pressing the bags flat to squeeze as much air out as possible.
Then I put them back into the freezer, actually in large plastic boxes, which adds another layer of protection against freezer burn.
The next trick for ending up with tasty green beans in winter is cooking them very quickly in a little olive oil and butter, with shallot or garlic added. That leaves them firmer than if you steamed them. Roasting works. So does heating the beans with a little tomato sauce, or mixing them with roasted summer squash, also out of the freezer.
Actually, cooking green beans with a little olive oil and butter with shallot works in summer, too, with fresh beans. Practice now on the fresh ones, and then in winter, use your beautifully frozen beans.
Greens Beans Sautéed with Shallot and/or Garlic
One handful of beans per person
A tablespoon of butter
A tablespoon of olive oil
A tablespoon or so of shallot, minced (optional)
A small clove of garlic, minced (optional)
Remove the stem ends of the beans, and the pointy end, too, if you wish, and cut or snap the beans into pieces. Melt the butter with the oil in a sauté pan, adding the shallot and garlic, and cooing them for a minute or two. Put the beans in the pan, and cook for five minutes until they are tender crisp. If frozen, cook them until they are hot through. If you like beans cooked more thoroughly, put a lid on the pan and let them partially steam, testing occasionally with a fork or knife point.