Freezing Green Beans Now and Using Them Later

A pole bean named Rattlesnake freezes wonderfully, and tastes great raw off the vine.

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.

Nor’easter ready for picking.

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.

Blanched beans spread on a towel to remove excess moisture.,

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.

Nor’easters frozen on a cookie sheet.

Then I put them back into the freezer, actually in large plastic boxes, which adds another layer of protection against freezer burn.

Beans bagged and placed in plastic boxes, labeled, and easy to find in the depths of the freezer.

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.

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About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.