Bush beans are an easy, fast growing and very rewarding vegetable to grow. Simply place the bean seed in the ground and wait 40 – 50 days. Here in Winnipeg, bush beans are ready for picking by mid to end of July. Picking them often will encourage more blossoming and extend the season to the point where you’re eager to share your beans with others! But before you give them away, freeze some for those long winter months.
We like growing green, yellow and burgundy waxed beans because they look awesome together in recipes like this Bean and Basil Salad.
The burgundy beans lose their color when cooked, but the yellow and green beans make great Dilly Beans.
The easiest way of preserving beans for winter is to freeze them or dehydrate them.
What about canning green beans, you ask?!
Here’s the thing – if you want to can beans, you MUST use a pressure canner or make pickled beans in an acid brine. (Prepare for big rant here!) Seriously, I know my mom and your grandmother probably canned beans in a hot water bath, they did the best they could with the information they had. Today, we have more knowledge about how microorganisms work and know how to eliminate further risks. I bet your mom and grandmother probably didn’t wear seatbelts or bike helmets either. Do you wear a seatbelt? Do you insist your kids wear bike helmets? Why? Your grandmother never did and it didn’t kill her?! Continuing to water bath low acid veggies because your grandmother did and your family survived is a dumb argument. We know better. We know that beans do not have enough acid in them to prevent Clostridium Botulinum from thriving in a can of water bathed beans. Sure, it may not be present in every can – but do you want to play Russian Roulette with your friends and family? Why take the risk, when we have easy, safe alternatives.
Oh and yes, sadly, people have died from botulism in water bathed low acid veggies. In 2015, an outbreak of botulism in improperly canned potatoes turned fatal – Ohio Church Potluck Botulism Outbreak turns fatal. In 1931 in North Dakota 13 people died from water bathed green peas and another 12 people died in Albany in 1924 due to improperly canned green beans. The Centre for Disease Control reported 145 botulism cases caused by home prepared foods between 1996 and 2014, 43 of them related to home canned vegetables. The threat is real. The solution is easy – follow tried and tested recipes for canning veggies, add acid or use a pressure canner as specified.
Or, as the case here, consider freezing your produce.
Here’s how to freeze them for optimum freshness.
Step 1 – Pick beans. It’s much more fun with a helper. Okay, we may be taking the safety thing too far – the safety helmet is not necessary!
Step 2 – Cut or snap off the ends of the beans.
Step 3 – Wash the beans.
Step 4 – Cut beans to preferred size. I used this bean cutting tool to make French-cut beans.
Step 5 – Place in boiling water. Wait for the water to return to a boil, then boil beans for 3 minutes. This is called blanching and YES, you have to do this step. It stops the aging enzymes found in vegetables and will keep your veggies tasting fresh and delicious.
Step 6 – Cool in ice water bath immediately after blanching time is finished. This stops your beans from continuing to cook from residual heat.
Step 7 – Drain well. The less water on your beans, the better they’ll hold up.
Step 8 – Place in freezer bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible to ensure best freezing conditions. Try inserting a straw into the bag to suck out extra air. It really works!
Step 9 – Label and freeze.
Enjoy your beans all year long!
Some of our favorite bean recipes using frozen beans:
As for pickled and dehydrated beans:
Want to learn more? Get Getty to facilitate a home cooking session for you, a group of friends or a community group. Getty Stewart is an engaging and enthusiastic facilitator that makes it fun and easy to learn tasty recipes, time-saving tips, and helpful kitchen ideas. She is a Professional Home Economist, author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, mom and veggie gardener.