"You are in control of their freshness, cleanliness, and how they’re processed," says Ibrahim-Jones. Additionally, you have control over exactly how they're cut. "You may want to chop them or keep them whole."
Here's how to freeze fresh green beans in five easy steps.
- Mareya S. Ibrahim-Jones, Mareya S. Ibrahim-Jones is a chef, author of Eat Like You Give a Fork ($16), and founder of food cleaning brand Eat Cleaner.
How to freeze fresh green beans
1. Pick green beans that are at peak flavor and texture
When freezing green beans, you want to use ones that are at peak flavor and texture. "The green beans should be firm to the touch and the ends should easily snap off," says Ibrahim-Jones. "If they’re rubbery or limp, they’re probably past their prime."
If you're harvesting your own green beans, agriculture experts at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service say to harvest them in the cool part of the morning and freeze within a few hours. If not, just pick some up at your local farmer's market or grocery store.
2. Wash your green beans
Once you've got your beans, you should wash them thoroughly in cold water. To take the cleaning a step further, Ibrahim-Jones says you can use a vegetable cleaner like the Fruit and Vegetable Wash Spray ($25 for 3) from her brand Eat Cleaner.
3. Add heat
Next, you have to add a bit of heat to the green beans to slow down/stop the action of enzymes that can cause loss of flavor, color, and texture, explains the folks at the University of Georgia. It will also ensure the green beans are super clean, brighten the color, and slow the loss of vitamins. The best way to do this is blanching them for three minutes. But, if you don't have a blancher, Ibrahim-Jones says to just steam them for three minutes. They should turn bright green but stay crisp.
4. Cool them quickly
As soon as they're done being steamed you want to cool them down as quickly as possible. Do this by placing the green beans into a strainer and plunge them into super cold water. Keep the water running until the beans are cool, which shouldn't take much longer than steaming them did. Then, pat them dry.
5. Pack them away and freeze them
Now, the fully cooled green beans are ready to be frozen. There are two ways you can do this, dry packing them and tray packing them. With dry packing, the beans might freeze to each other, creating a block of frozen green beans. If you're freezing your green beans in meal-sized servings, dry packing is fine. But if you want to be able to pull smaller quantities out of a single container, tray packing is the way to go.
For dry packing, you need to tightly pack your green beans into freezer-safe containers. For freezer bags, fill to within three inches of the top and then seal. For storage containers, leave half an inch of headspace at the top and close the container securely, explains the University of Georgia experts. For tray packing, they say to place the green beans in a single layer on a shallow tray and freeze them until firm. Remove them and quickly put them into bags or containers. Ibrahim-Jones says your green beans will be good frozen for up to six months.
Eat your green beans whenever and however you'd like
Once you have your green beans frozen, Ibrahim-Jones says there are so many ways to prepare them. She loves them sautéed in what she calls a "flavor bomb." "I fill an old-school ice cube tray with extra-virgin olive oil or ghee and add fresh garlic, rosemary, Himalayan pink salt, and fresh ground pepper," she says. Then, she's able to pull one out whenever she needs it. She tosses a flavor bomb into a pan with shallots, cremini mushrooms, and the green beans.
"They’re also delicious in a salad, like my favorite, Niçoise with seared tuna, hardboiled eggs, crispy butter lettuce, and tomatoes. I even love them chilled, just tossed with a simple vinaigrette," she says. "Green beans are so versatile because they can basically be eaten raw, blanched, steamed, or cooked in a variety of ways."
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