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Fresh green beans come out of the garden in the summer at an alarming rate. Using and preserving green beans from the garden takes a little creativity to be able to ensure none go to waste.
I used to hate green beans, in fact I did most of my life, I remember hating them as a young child. About 4 years ago, when my gardening career was just budding, I asked one of my daycare families if they wanted me to water their garden while they were out of town for a week and it was 100 degrees every day.
They said sure, and said I could pick whatever was ripe from it. I jumped on that, but when I got over there, I saw they had a ton of green beans ready to pick.
Using and Preserving Green Beans from the Garden
I thought to myself, ew, but I knew I should not let them go to waste on the vines. So, I picked a sack full and brought them home thinking I could feed them to the kids. I cooked them up and to my surprise, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED them! They were amazing. Since then, I have been helping the kids plant green beans and enjoying eating them with them.
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This year we planted a variety of green beans including a purple variety we got in our seeds of the month membership. We just picked our first batch of purple ones today and they look so beautiful! I can’t wait to try them.
At Little Sprouts we plant most things in succession. That way we have a longer season of harvest as well as less glut all at once of one thing. Every two weeks we put in another row of green beans. As the plants get tired and worn out, the new ones are ready. (Snake beans are our favorite ones to grow)
How to cook fresh green beans.
The vines and bushes are really pretty and the little beans are so cute as they come on. I LOVE growing them. When we get enough to save, it’s super exciting to think about eating them in winter too. We are not allowed to serve home-canned foods in daycare, so our green bean storage choices are dehydrating or freezing.
Preserving green beans
If you dehydrate your green beans, cut them into one-inch pieces before you start. Dehydrate them until they are totally dried. You can use them in soups and stews. They retain their flavor and most of their nutrients.
Another way you can use dehydrated green beans is to put them in the blender dry and make them into powder. Then add them to dishes for extra nutrients. No one will ever know. Trust me, it works great!
How to freeze green beans
To freeze your green beans you wash and snap them into one-inch pieces. Then blanch them. Bring a big stockpot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon or so of salt. Toss in a few handfuls of green beans, and let them cook for 3-4 minutes or until bright green.
Take them out of the water and shock them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain them and bag them up. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and get it to the freezer as quickly as possible.
Many people say they don’t like frozen green beans, but I find if you cook them right (long enough), they taste amazing and have a wonderful texture. Believe me, texture is a big ole deal to me.
How to store fresh green beans from the garden
There are so many ways to use your fresh or stored green beans. You can make a side dish with them. There are many green bean casserole recipes or you can just serve them plain with some salt, pepper and butter. My last post was my world famous green bean recipe. It’s so good, kids are talking about it all over the place.
Added to soups and stews.
They can be added to casseroles. Green beans can be used in stir-fry. You can marinate them in a fresh salad, they can be pickled, they can go in a pasta salad or pasta dishes. They can be used fresh or blanched in salads. You can roast them in green bean bundles. There are unlimited ways they can be served for something new and exciting.
Don’t shy away from the humble and familiar green bean. All it needs is some new perspective. What’s your favorite way to eat them?
Check out these other food preservation articles for your garden produce.
Storing garden produce to make it last as long as possible
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