Sunday, May 1, 2011

Green Beans

Last year we canned an abundance of green beans.  Since I still have some of those full jars left over, we only canned 12 quarts of beans this year.  We froze 20 gallons of beans and 19 quarts.  With the jars that are left from last year, this will be enough to last us until next spring, when we start the process all over!  My children love green beans that have been frozen.  They like to eat them sauteed in olive oil or butter with some salt and pepper.  The beans are still a little crunchy this way. 

To freeze or can green beans, you must snap off the ends.  First, you hire child labor.  Or parental labor.  Or spousal labor.  Or friendly neighbor labor.  If you have no one to help you, you can do it yourself.  Though I pity you if you have picked 10 buckets of beans.

Then, you wash the beans and drain them.

Fill a stainless steel pot with 3/4 full with water and bring it to a boil.   I had two pots going at once to alternate them so the process would go faster.  When the water comes to a full boil, add green beans and blanch them for 3-4 minutes.

Drain the beans in a colander and immediately immerse them in an ice water bath.  I use a large stainless steel bowl (you can get one inexpensively at Ikea).  The ice water cools them quickly so the beans stop cooking and don't get too mushy.

After the beans are completely cooled, scoop them out (I use a hand-held small colander) and put them in freezer bags.  They should be put into the freezer as soon as possible.

The process of canning beans takes longer to explain in detail, so I'll give you a summary.  I use the raw pack method where the beans are not cooked before they are canned.  I put the beans into hot jars and fill the jars with boiling water, leaving one-inch headspace.  Then I put on the hot lid and screwband and tighten.  The jars are put into my canner.  Every canner is different, so you must check your canner's directions to be sure you are processing correctly.  My canner holds 6 quart jars at a time.  Each canning cycle takes me about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish including getting the beans into the jars, processing them, and cooling off the canner.  Here's a picture of my canner with jars of beans cooling inside:

Here are some finished jars of beans.  What satisfaction to look at your jars when they are finished as well as the bags stacked in the freezer and know it came from your garden.  It's so worth the time and effort!

While you are putting up your beans, you can cook some for dinner.  Yum!

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