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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Preserving Green Beans - Freezing and Dehydrating

I grow both bush-type green beans, and pole beans.  My bush beans are Royal Burgundy beans, which are purple beans that turn green when cooked.  My Kentucky Wonder pole beans are a great duel crop.  I can eat the young beans as a green bean, and if left on the vines for the fall, they make a great dry bean, similar to pinto beans, for soups.

Saving green beans is fairly easy, and if I still did not have way too many canned beans in my cellar, I would be canning them this year also.  This year, I am dehydrating them more, because they take up a lot less space than in canning jars.

I prepare my green beans in the same way when dehydrating and freezing, so I can process a whole bunch of them all at the same time.

Royal Burgundy and Kentucky Wonder Beans

When preparing the beans, I cut off the ends, any bad spots, and strip the strings down the sides of the beans.  I then wash them in cold water and cut them into 1 - 2 inch long pieces.  Once the beans are cleaned, I blanch them for about 3 - 4 minutes in boiling salted water.  The nice thing about the Royal Burgundy beans is that they turn green as they boil, and I usually use them to gauge the blanching.  When the purple is gone, the beans are blanched.

Blanched Beans

As soon as the beans are blanched, they need to be taken out and cooled quickly, to stop the cooking.  I usually dump them in a strainer and run them under cold water while I stir them around gently.  The beans can also be plunged into ice water to cool them quickly.  Once the beans are cool, I either place them on the dehydrator or freeze them in vacuum sealed bags.

To dehydrate the beans, I place them in rows on the dehydrator trays.  Once they are are placed, I set the temp at 135°F and will check back about 12 hours later.  The beans should be brittle when they are done, and can take from 12 - 16 hours or more.  When breaking them, they will not snap directly, but will have just a small bit of flexibility before they snap.

Green Beans on Dehydrator Trays

Dehydrated Green Beans

Once the green beans are finished drying, I place them in an air-tight container.  These green beans can be used in soups, and can be re-hydrated by boiling them.  If I am using them in my instant soup mixes, I cut them up into smaller pieces, as green beans take a little longer to re-hydrate than the other veggies I add.  If you want to make your own instant soup mix, check out my post "Powdered Beef Stock - Making instant soup with homemade beef bouillon."

When I freeze the green beans, I fill the bags with a family dinner serving size each, and use my food-saver to vacuum seal the bags.

Sealing the Green Beans

Once all the bags are sealed, I make sure that I mark what the contents are and when they were sealed, and place them in the freezer.  For more on vacuum-sealing, check out my post "Freezing Your Produce."  When you are ready to eat the green beans, just boil the beans, or add to soup.  When beans are vacuum-sealed, they can last for up to 2 years in the freezer.  Enjoy!

Ready for the Freezer

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