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How to Blanch and Freeze Green Beans

Green beans

Freezing is an excellent way to preserve large quantities of fresh green beans from your garden or a recent grocery trip. By freezing them at home, you'll be able to enjoy the wonderful health benefits of green beans all year long, and you'll know exactly where your frozen green beans come from, which is rarely the case with the frozen produce you can buy in grocery stores. Note, though, that you will need to quickly cook your green beans in boiling water before freezing, a process called blanching, which preserves the beautiful green color and fresh flavor of your beans. Below, you will find step-by-step instructions on how to blanch and freeze fresh green beans.

Why You Should Blanch Green Beans Before Freezing Them

If you want to be able to pull tasty, nutrient-rich green beans from your freezer later on, blanching them before you freeze them is definitely something you'll want to do. Blanching, or scalding fresh produce briefly in rapidly boiling water (or steam) and then plunging the food in icy water, slows down the action of enzymes and bacteria that cause frozen vegetables to develop off-flavors and lose color, texture and nutrients. After blanching, green beans are immediately immersed in very cold water to cool them quickly.

How to Blanch Green Beans

Here's a detailed step-by-step on how to properly blanch green beans before freezing them:

  1. Choose fresh string or French green beans with that are firm and plump. Look for even green coloring and discard all beans that have splotchy coloring.
  2. Wash the green beans you want to blanch and freeze under cold, running water, and snap off the stems and tips. If you are working with string green beans, you will also want to peel away the connected string.
  3. Fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes, and place it near the stove.
  4. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, and toss the green beans in the water. Return to a boil, and let the green beans cook for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on size.
  5. To stop the cooking process, scoop the green beans from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and plop in the ice water bath.
  6. Let the beans chill for 2 to 4 minutes, and then drain them thoroughly in a colander.

Note that when preparing green beans for the freezer, it is important to use a lot of water when you blanch and cool them, and if necessary, to work in batches. This allows the water to return to a boil more rapidly after you toss the vegetables in the boiling water, and the water in the ice water bath will stay cold enough during the cooling process.

How to Freeze Green Beans

After blanching and chilling the green beans, many people directly pack them into freezer bags or containers, and place the bags or containers in the freezer for storage. However, this method has a major drawback: the beans will stick together in the freezer. This problem, however, is easily fixed. Here's how to prevent your green beans from sticking together in the freezer so you can scoop out just a few beans from a freezer bag or container when you need to add a bit of beany goodness to a dish:

  1. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with a freezer-safe, BPA-free silicone mat or parchment paper. Arrange the green beans on the sheet, making sure they don't touch.
  2. Slide the sheet into the freezer and leave it there until the green beans are frozen solid.
  3. Take the sheet out of the freezer and lift the edges of the baking mat or parchment to dislodge the green beans.
  4. Transfer the green beans to freezer-safe bags or containers, and seal.
  5. Label with today's date, and return the green beans to the freezer.

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