I'm from Indiana so I love me some canned green beans cooked with a little bacon grease just as much as the next Hoosier, but this is about the only way I like canned green beans. I just don't feel that they have the flexibility of frozen beans. Which is why, this year, I'm blanching and freezing my own instead of canning all of ours. It's quick (MUCH quicker than canning) and easy, not to mention it doesn't require any canning equipment.
Why blanch before freezing? I had this question a few years back. Blanching stops your vegetables from loosing color, flavor and nutrients. It also helps brighten the color and clean off any unseen bacteria or tiny bugs living on the vegetables.
And like I said earlier, this method is easy, which is nice because, while I love green beans, I do think they are one of the more tedious vegetables to grow and preserve. Just yesterday I started picking green beans at 9:30am and didn't pull the quarts out of the canner until 9:40pm. Don't get me wrong, there was a lot of momming and some making of pesto in between too, but you get my point. Picking, cleaning, breaking and then canning takes a lot of time.
Alright, here we go. A step-by-step guide to blanching and freezing your own green beans.
Step 1: Clean & Break Your Beans
I fill my sink up and dump my green beans in. Agitate the beans and then let the water sit for a minute or two for the dirt to fall to the bottom. Then start to break your beans. For anyone that doesn't know what this means, you take each bean and break off the ends. If you want, you can break each bean into smaller pieces. For my frozen beans, I leave them whole, with only the ends removed.
Step 2: Set Up Your Stations
You need to get a large pan of water to a boil. Then you need a large bowl of ice water. Start with just a bit of water and then add the ice. The ice will melt as the other water boils. Place a double layer of clean towels next to the ice water and have a flat pan ready. You will also need a slotted spoon.
Step 3: Blanch the Beans
Working in small batches (I usually only do a large handful at a time), add the green beans to the boiling water. Boil for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the beans from the boiling water and place them in the ice water.
Add another batch of beans to the boiling water for 2 minutes while the first batch cools off in the ice bath. At about the 1 minute-to-go mark, start moving the beans in the ice water over to the towel. Then you can add the beans from the boiling water to the ice bath without the delay of clearing the ice bath.
Pat the beans on the towels dry and place them in a single layer on the pan you have waiting.
Keep up the cycle until all of your beans are ready to go on a pan.
Make sure that during this process that you always keep the water boiling. If at any point it stops or slows, wait until that rolling boil comes back. The same goes for the ice water. Keep it ice cold. Dump water and add ice as needed. The ice water stops the green beans from continuing to cook.
Step 3: Freeze & Store
Place your pan(s) in the freezer for a few hours or overnight until all of the green beans are frozen. Once they are frozen, use a spatula to remove the beans from the pan and place in freezer safe plastic bags.
Always make sure to label your freezer bags with what you are freezing and the date so you can make sure to eat things in an appropriate amount of time.
See? Easy! No jars to sanitize and no pressure cooker needed.