On summer days when she had to work, my mom would leave a list of chores for her four kids. As summer waned, “Pick and Cut the Beans” perpetually appeared on the list. As the oldest, I was the Bean Picking And Cutting Czar. I proudly supervised (bossed around) my siblings (peons) as we (they) picked a plethora of green beans and prepared to preserve them.
Now that I’m a big kid, I have my own garden of beans to pick and preserve. Here’s how I do it:
- Pick the beans! If you don’t have your own garden, green beans are ubiquitous at farmer’s markets this time of year. Just look for beans that are ripe but not overripe. They should be medium in size (not too fat), bright in color, and firm.
2. Wash the beans in a colander.
3. Trim the little stems off the top and bottom, and cut the beans into approximately one-inch pieces. I like to use a chef’s knife and cut 3-4 beans at a time. I usually give the beans another quick rinse after I cut them, just in case I missed any contaminates the first time.
4. When you’re almost finished cutting the beans, heat up a large pot of water until it comes to a full rolling boil. Cook the beans for about 4 minutes. The water will probably not be boiling after you throw the beans in. That’s okay. You’ll know they’re done when you fish one out (with a spoon!) and it’s crisp-tender. It should retain a bit of a “snap.” If you have a lot of beans, you may need to work in batches so that your pot doesn’t overflow!
5. While you’re waiting for the beans to cook, fill another large pot 2/3 of the way full of ice and cold water. The hot beans are going to melt the ice, so don’t skimp on it! After the beans have cooked, drain them quickly and toss the hot beans into the ice bath.
6. Once the beans are cold, drain them in a colander.
7. Pack the beans into quart-size freezer bags. I like to get air out of the bag by sealing it almost all the way, sticking a straw into the bag and sucking the rest of the air out. I look like a total loser doing it, but air is the mortal enemy when it comes to food preservation.
8. Put them in the freezer, and you’re done!
Bean Picking and Cutting Czars rejoice! Home preserved vegetables are a bazillion times sweeter and more flavorful than anything you can buy in a store. When the weather turns, you’ll crack open one of those little packets of green beans and be transported back to summer!
Washi tape clip art by Teacher Karma.
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