Garden fresh produce is abundant this time of year. One thing I’m getting a lot of is green beans. I pick them by the bag full every few days.
I love green beans – simply toss them in the steamer for about 25 minutes and you have a fresh and delicious side dish for dinner. But just from one of my raised beds of beans, I’m getting more than I can eat.
One easy way to preserve some beans for later is by freezing them. After picking, wash the beans, snap off the ends, then break into approximately one-inch pieces. I like to have them frozen in bite sizes so I don’t have to do anything with them when using them except toss them in the dish. Once this is done, blanch the beans by dipping them in boiling water for three minutes, then put them in ice water to cool. After a couple of minutes, remove the beans from the water and pat them dry. Fill your bags with amounts you would use in various recipes, seal the bags and freeze. I like to use them in casseroles, vegetable soup and more. For soups, I just throw the block of frozen beans into the pan with everything else to thaw, but for casseroles you can place the bag of beans in a bowl of water to thaw then you can spread them over your dish.
While freezing is easy to do and easy to use, I decided to try something new this year. After following the first steps of washing, snapping and blanching, I then dehydrated a batch.
To do this, place beans on the trays so they are not touching. I dehydrated them at 135 degrees for about 16-18 hours or until brittle. Once dried, store them in jars or baggies. I’ll be looking for some delicious ways to use these dried beans this winter once the fresh ones run out and will share some of those recipes in a future column.
(Note: Canning green beans also is an option but it requires a pressure canner.)
Until next time, happy garden-fresh eating!
Julie Clements is a Butler County Master Gardener. Share your ideas for garden-fresh recipes or ways to preserve at firstname.lastname@example.org and some will be featured in upcoming columns.