July 13, 2009

Green Bean Machine

So Uncle J's green bean bushes were loaded down and needed relief, therefore we "selflessly" volunteered to help pick them! We have pole beans planted, but they are not producing yet - story for another day let's say. Of course my uncle and aunt sent us home with a big bunch of the gorgeous beans and we became a well coordinated machine to get them into the freezer and on to the table - so good!

Right away we used a pound of them to make these delicious sweet and sour green beans. The recipe is on the recipe page here. We had another version of these at my aunt's house and the recipe that I found online had a whole chopped onion that had been sauteed with bacon. You could make rocks taste good by adding sauteed onion and bacon! These were hot and delicious and the steam kept fogging up my camera lens - such a problem to endure - hot food!

The leftovers made a perfect three bean salad the next day. There was some sweet and sour sauce left in the beans, so I just added a little more vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper along with a can of red kidney beans and a can of garbanzo beans. It was wonderful too. I think a little chopped green pepper would have been good in this. Click here to go to the recipe page for the official recipe!

Next came the task of freezing the rest. I started by snapping the beans into smaller pieces and culling out the less desirable beans. You do have to be picky when you're freezing produce and be sure to use only unblemished pieces so that they don't deteriorate in the freezer, or worse become a source of bacteria. The snapped beans were rinsed and then dropped into a large pot of boiling water and blanched for 3 minutes. You start counting the 3 minutes as soon as you put them in the water - don't wait for the water to start boiling again before you begin your timer, or your beans will be overdone. This step breaks down enzymes in the beans that would deteriorate them in your freezer if you skipped this step.

When the three minutes is up, you pull them out of the hot water and plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Leave them in the ice water for 3 minutes as well. The scoop that is in this photo came from an Asian market and it was a perfect tool for this job.

After the three minutes, take them out of the ice water and let them drain on a clean kitchen towel. We did this process in four batches, and each time we allowed the hot water to return to a boil before adding more beans, and each time we added more ice to the cold water, or changed it out all together to make sure it was cold enough.

Load them into freezer bags and into the freezer they go. We ended up with 7 beautiful quart bags full of green beans. We will think of Uncle J's garden with every serving. Thank you again!!

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