Just picked 15 lbs of butter beans...best way to preserve?

pqtexOctober 8, 2010

I just harvested 15 lbs of butter beans. I have never preserved them as we usually just cook and eat. I would normally boil a ham hock in chicken stock for 30-45 minutes, then add the shelled beans, onion, and a bit of garlic and let simmer on the stove or in the crockpot until nice and tender. Then we gobble them all up.

But 15 lbs is a lot of butter beans! Excluding drying them, what do you think is the best method of preservation?

Freezing raw (blanched)?

Freezing after cooking by my normal recipe?

Pressure Canned? If pressure canned, which recipe do you like the best?

Well, while I wait for answers, I'll be shelling beans! I'll be at it for a while.

Thanks for your ideas.


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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

We normally allow them to dry on the vine and store as dried beans but if harvested fresh we prefer lightly steam blanching and then freezing.

Canning makes them very mushy, almost mashed. If that texture doesn't bother you then canning will store them longer than freezing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Canning Butter Beans

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 3:46PM
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Thanks for the information they would be mushy if canned. That's the kind of input I needed.

Prior to meeting me, my husband used to let them dry on the vine also, but once I convinced him to try picking them before they dried, he won't go back to that method!

There is a vast taste difference between fresh butter beans and from dried beans! We wait until the pods are filled out, but still green. Any that dry on the vine we store dried, but I find it hard to cook them knowing they aren't nearly as tasty!

Has anyone fully cooked them and frozen them that way? How is the consistency after freezing? I keep thinking it would be so much easier to cook one huge batch and divide into meal-size containers in the freezer.

Still shelling them...wishing I had an automatic pea sheller!

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 4:08PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Just goes to show you how taste buds differ. We much prefer the taste of dried ones over the fresh. The fresh taste bland to wife and me. To each his own. ;)


    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 5:08PM
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Maybe it's a difference in variety? We have the Florida Speckled butter beans. Or like you said, just a difference in tastes. :-)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2010 at 6:06PM
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I ended up cooking them with a ham hock and freezing them in meal size batches. Now it's a couple of weeks later, and I have another batch of butter beans to do something with.

I have decided to try, at least once, pressure canning them. I have a lot more pantry storage than freezer space. I follow only tested recipes, but I do have some questions.

Keep in mind that I am preserving them fresh, not from dried beans. I will use the USDA recipe for hot pack lima beans, which states to loosely fill jars, leaving 1" head space, and process pints for 40 minutes. However, I think packed in water will make them very bland.

I can make turkey stock or meat broth by the USDA recipe, which states to process pints for 20 minutes.

If I wanted to cover my fresh beans with broth instead of water, would I have to follow the soup recipe of 50% solid to 50% liquid? That would require processing for 60 minutes. Or could I still just process them for the 40 minutes bean requirement? There is nothing else added except dried spices.

The drawback to using the soup method (as I see it) is that I would need to up my jar size to quarts in order to get the amount of beans needed for a meal. And that means an even longer processing time than for pints.

Thanks for your help and patience.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 11:58AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You are right that using the broth will change the processing time and increase the "mushed beans" factor. I would can them plain in the water and then drain it at serving time and heat them in the broth.

As an alternative add some dried herbs of choice to the water for flavor.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2010 at 1:14PM
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You might also try a can with a 1/4 tsp pickle crisp to see what happens. There is also a ham and beans recipe somewhere for dried beans that I want to make with white beans sometime.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2010 at 2:21AM
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