When we planned our garden we planned not only for fresh produce for the summer dinner table but also for enough to allow for either freezing or canning. We decided to grow green bush beans as well as green pole beans. The bush beans are a known quantity as we have planted them in the past and they have always been good producers. The pole beans are new to us and so the majority of green beans we planted were of the bush variety. We planted four 4 foot rows of bush beans and 2 1/2 rows of pole beans.
For the last two weeks we've been harvesting green beans on a nearly daily basis. During our harvest we usually find a few that have gotten so big that it is obvious that they were left unpicked the day before, unseen under the large leaves of the plants. For the most part though, the beans are 4 to 5 inches long and the beans inside the pods are only just starting to bulge a little. This is the point where the beans are the most tender and delicious.
To make either freezing or canning profitable you need to have several cups of beans ready to process. To this end we wash the freshly picked beans, break the tips off, and snap the pods into one inch pieces. These are then stored in the refrigerator in a tight sealing container, such as a tupperware tub. After today's harvest we had just over 12 cups of snapped beans ready to freeze.
As with most vegetables, green beans ideally should be blanched to allow for the best and longest storage time possible. Blanching means to boil the vegetables for a short period of time, 3 minutes in the case of green beans. The green beans are then drained and dumped into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Once they have cooled off they are drained again, patted dry with paper towels and processed.
To freeze the green beans we spread the blanched beans in single layers on cookie sheets and placed them in a deep freeze for a couple of hours. Finally we removed the beans from the freezer and transferred them to freezer bags in 2 cp portions. If there were more than just the two of us then we would have done them in 3 or 4 cps portions.
Green beans produce from late spring into early fall, usually until the last frost. The love warm sunny days but still seem to produce well even with the cooler nights and damp days we've been having. At the rate we are going, I expect we will end up freezing or canning another 50-60 cps of green beans. They will be a welcome addition to any of our winter meals but especially to hot soups, stews, and casseroles.