Best (and worst) green/wax beans for freezing

fliptx(Houston 9)December 26, 2007

Which snap beans have you found to keep well in the freezer?

I've been eating this past spring's beans out of the freezer lately, and so far I'm very impressed with Gold Mine. They remain sweet and have good texture. Jumbo didn't fare as well. The taste is fine, but the outer skins sort of sloughed off after reheating, and the texture was so-so. Fortex didn't freeze well, but I admit that may have been my fault, since they were the first ones I put up and I was still learning the ropes.

With all my snap beans, I prepared them according to these directions, and vacuum-sealed them in plastic.

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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

FlipTx, I know what you mean about the skins sloughing off; I had a lot of varieties do that, especially some of the Romano types. "Goldmarie" was the worst, but "Garafal Oro" fared better. A lot of beans are wonderful fresh, but freeze poorly.

For freezing, the round-podded varieties seem to be the best. "Fortex" has done well for me, and is now my favorite variety for freezing. "Emerite" is even better in terms of quality - probably the best - but is less disease-resistant in wet summers. "Rattlesnake" did well in freezing trials, and has an excellent flavor. "Pole 191" & "Kentucky Wonder" are also good, but try as I might, the skin always sloughs off a little when heating them... wonderful "beany" flavor, though.

I've learned that how you reheat them is just as important as how you freeze them. No more boiling water for me. I heat them slowly in the microwave (just covered by water) until they are al dente, then drain them immediately. They still "squeak" like fresh. You might be able to get the same results dunking them in boiling water for only a few minutes, under close scrutiny.

Haven't tried as many new snaps lately, I have been preoccupied with my search for good shellies.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 10:12PM
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fliptx(Houston 9)

Yeah, I don't boil them when reheating. I put them in simmering water for a couple of minutes, just till they're not icy anymore. I'm glad to hear Rattlesnake did well for you. I plan on growing that one for the first time this coming spring.

The bean skins remind me of this PBS thing on whales I saw once. A marine biologist was testing the DNA of pods of whales, and did so by collecting thin sheets of their sloughed-off skin from the surface of the water.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2007 at 10:53PM
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My mother's "boiled to death" green beans never tasted quite right - all the flavor and vitamins had long dissipated into open steam while the water with the flavor and vitamins was dumped down the sink! And, the skin sloughed off no matter what variety was grown. It IS all in how you prepare them.

I love Contender green snap beans. Very prolific and tasty, but there are other snaps just as good.

After picking early in the morning, I do not wash them until they are ready to be processed, keeping them in the fridge with a paper towel loosely around them in a slightly opened plastic bag.

To prepare for freezing, it is best to find a colander or metal basket that fits into your largest soup pot for the easiest and quickest way to get the beans in and out of the water. If you don't have one you'll need a strainer to do the multiple drainings. I snap off only the ends, rinse quickly under running warm water, put them into the colander and submerge in boiling water to blanch for 3 minutes (begin counting when you put them in), drain quickly, then submerge them in a bowl of ice water for 1-3 minutes to stop the cooking action. Drain then let air dry for a while on cookie cooling racks. Lay them out on wax paper on a cookie sheet and put into the freezer for an hour or so until well frozen (sometimes I don't get to them for a few days and they are fine). Then they go into large freezer zip bags for up to 6 months so I can take out just the amount I need since they are not a clump - each is separate. I also use vacuum sealer bags to make up "veggies for two" that keep until next year's harvest begins.

To cook green beans, I use a Black&Decker or Oster electric food steamer. They are under $30 at Target, K-Mart, Wal-Mart, etc. Easy 12-15 minutes from frozen state to crisp fresh, 10-12 minutes from fresh harvest to the dinner table. It is the only appliance I have on my counter, other than the coffee pot, since it gets the most use, like every day! I think it is cheaper to use than the microwave and keeps all the vitamins and flavor inside the vegetables.

Nancy the nancedar

    Bookmark   December 27, 2007 at 6:16AM
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I am glad to find this discussion about freezing green beans because I was just about to give up as mine always turn out mushy. But I will try again with emerite vert which I have grown for the first time this year, and will watch the blanching time and dry the beans before freezing. Wish luck!

I have been making green bean pickles instead. Folks love 'em, the sweet ones more so than the dilled. I use a variety of beans cut into pieces, including Kentucky Wonder Wax- they look festive, like a bean salad.

A tip: a Presto Kitchen Kettle is great for blanching as it comes with a handled wire basket that makes it easy to drain the beans and dump them into ice water. It is intended for deep frying but works well for blanching. I got mine for $20 at Walmart- what a deal- but now they are more like $30 at Walmart or There's a stainless version, too, for more $$. Mine is teflon lined and has a tight fitting lid- it can also be used as a soup stock pot. I also use it for heating milk to make yogurt. It has a temperature controller that helps to just scald the milk. It doesn't control low enough to incubate the yogurt though. Otherwise, I love my Presto kettle!

Here is a link that might be useful: Presto Kitchen Kettle Multi Cooker

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 1:40PM
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I'm finding the same as zeedman in that the rounder-podded varieties seem to be freezing best. In addition, I've found that the more mature beans freeze a lot better, too. I like them very young for fresh eating, but the young ones don't handle freezing as well, in my opinion.

I'm also finding that having two bowls (or in my case, a very clean double sink) of cold water is cooling them off MUCH faster than letting them sit in one bowl/sink. Ever since I started doing the double dip thing, I've not had any sloughing of the skins; the faster you can cool them the better. I've got a stainless steel collender that sits in my big soup pot so I can just lift them out quickly and plunge them into the first cold sink. I swish them around a bit, then promptly scoop them out into the second sink of cold water. I change the water in the first sink every second batch (it warms up fast), but the water in the second sink is still ice cold after six or seven batches are dumped in there.

Since I freeze them in those vacuum-sealed bags in meal-sized portions for our little family (two adults and two young kids), all I do to cook them now is stab a few holes in the top of the bag and use the microwave on the frozen vegetable setting. After the beeper goes off, I find if I leave them to sit in the microwave for a few minutes more (not on, just resting there), the texture is a lot more like they are cooked from fresh.

The "squeak" is still there for the first few months of storage. I've never been able to freeze them for a whole year and not have the quality change at least a little. They still far surpass store beans, but they're defninitely not the same as they were earlier on.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2011 at 2:12PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Macky, your technique is quite similar to mine. I have two matching stainless steel kettles with large strainer basket inserts... this works well for large-scale freezing, since one basket can be cooling while the other is blanching.

But rather than fill a sink with cold water, I place a kettle in the sink large enough to immerse the basket, and keep the tap running slowly into it. My well water is cold enough to make your teeth hurt! The cold water sinks to the bottom, and the warmer water is constantly flowing over the top. I stir constantly when the basket is first immersed, for about a minute, then let the veggies sit under the running water. Meanwhile, I strain out any fragments that might remain in the blanching kettle (the wide hand strainers sold in Asian stores work great for this), place the second basket in, and once the water resumes boiling, put in another batch to blanch. I remove & drain the batch that is cooling about a minute before the blanching is complete; by that time the water in the cooling kettle is cold.

The other sink holds a colander for draining; but it's not that important to get the veggies completely dry. I initially freeze veggies in square plastic freezer boxes, then vacuum seal the frozen "blocks" into bags (this lessens the chance of debris interfering with the seal). A little water helps the veggies hold together during the transfer.

I freeze greens (such as chard) covered in water; this reduces freezer burn. If you don't use a vacuum sealer, covering with water is a good alternative for extended storage. Place the veggies in a ziplock freezer bag, cover with water, squeeze out air bubbles, and seal. Be sure to leave enough room for the bag to expand as it freezes. In my experience, you don't want to use a cheap freezer bag for this, the seam might pop open or leak as it freezes.

For me, vacuum-sealed green beans will last for over a year with good quality, if kept at 0 degrees F. A refrigerator ice box generally doesn't get that cold, so storage life would be reduced in the warmer conditions. A small chest freezer is a worthwhile investment if you want to freeze enough veggies for the year.

Oh, one last note about blanching. For the best quality, it is best to work small batches. For me, one pound seems to be the magic number... the blanching times tend to match those listed in the Ball Blue Book, which is my reference of choice for canning & freezing. When freezing a new variety for the first time, it's a good idea to do a test batch & check for proper blanching, before freezing large quantities. One tip I've noticed is that when properly blanched, the beans (and most other cut veggies) will sink as they cool.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 1:02AM
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