Green beans are a convenient and popular addition to many recipes, and freezing is one of the best ways to preserve green beans for future use. Frozen green beans have more nutrients than pressure-canned beans, and giving the green beans a quick blanching in boiling water before freezing them ensures that they retain their original texture and color when you get around to cooking with them.
This method uses a single layer initial freeze that prevents the green beans from clumping together. The fact that they stay loose is a big advantage when you have a large container of frozen green beans but only want to use half that much for a recipe. Bonus: you can use this same method to blanch and freeze wax beans.
Preparing Green Beans for Blanching
- Put a large pot of water on the stove and begin bringing it to a boil. You'll need about a gallon of water for every pound of green beans.
- Prepare a big bowl of ice water.
- Wash the green beans well in cold water and drain them.
- Snap or cut off the stem ends. If the beans are at all stringy, strip off the strings by breaking the stem end and pulling it down towards the pointed end.
- Depending on the length of the green beans, you can either opt to leave them whole or chop them into 1 to 2-inch-long pieces.
Blanching Green Beans
After you have prepped the beans, drop them into the pot of rapidly boiling water. Work with a small batch of beans at a time; you don't want them to be crowded in the pot as they blanch or on the baking sheet as they freeze. Let them cook for three minutes and then drain the green beans in a colander. As an alternative, you can steam the beans for three minutes rather than boiling them.
Chilling the Green Beans
Immediately transfer the blanched green beans from the colander to the bowl of ice water. This stops the residual heat in the vegetables from continuing to cook them and preserves their green color. Leave the beans in the ice water for three minutes. Transfer the beans back to the colander and leave them to drain well for a few minutes.
Single Layer Freeze
Spread the blanched, chilled, and drained green beans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Don't let the beans overlap or touch one another. Freeze for one to two hours.
Transfer the frozen green beans to freezer bags or containers and label them with the date. Frozen green beans keep for one year. They are still safe to eat after that, but their quality declines. Put the labeled containers in the freezer for use whenever you need them.
Using Frozen Green Beans
It is not necessary to thaw frozen green beans before cooking them. Add them as-is to stir-fries, soups, and other dishes. When using in a recipe, subtract the three minutes the beans were blanched from the cooking time.