SO MANY GREEN BEANS, so little time. That’s how I always feel around now: how to keep up with the glut of one of my favorite vegetables. I don’t like them canned (all olive green and overcooked!) and they can lose crunch or get ice-encrusted when blanched and frozen plain, so I put mine up in canning jars in the freezer, doused in homemade tomato sauce. Read how I freeze green beans and many more garden-fresh goodies.
freezing green beans in tomato sauce
MY METHOD FOR FREEZING green beans is simple, and results in one of my favorite red-sauce variations for serving over brown rice or pasta. Instead of blanching beans in boiling water, then quick-chilling them in ice water before freezing plain, I cut them up and put them into my homemade tomato sauce at the very last moment that it’s cooking. Assuming the sauce is bubbling, they’ll “blanch” in it immediately, so I take it off the heat at once and let it cool. The beans will turn bright green (as water-blanched ones so), but you don’t want them to cook through.
Ladle the bean-filled sauce into wide-mouth jars (freezer bags, as below, will work, too), leaving headroom for expansion of the food if it’s liquidy such as this one, and freeze. Straight-sided jars (rather than ones with “shoulders”) are best for freezing, and again: wide mouths.
Barely blanched beans in the sauce seem to hold up better than those frozen “naked”–no ice crystals form on the beans, and they have better texture when I warm them up to eat later on my rice or pasta. With a heavy-handed drizzle of good olive oil and plenty of fresh-grated Parmesan on top, of course.
14 more food-storage tips
- Why I’m not just canning, but also freezing in glass such as Mason or Weck jars: It’s about mounting evidence on the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA). And glass is just great. Weck jars have BPA-free rubber seals; many canning lids containing BPA, so you need to ask when shopping, and buy the proper lids separately in some cases. (Plastic freezer bags will work in a pinch, of course, for many things, and I confess I still use some.)
- I grow a year of parsley, then stash it in freezer “logs,” or…
- …a year of most any green herbs can be stored in green ice cubes (pestos), such as parsley, sage, chives, garlic scapes, rosemary, cilantro…you name it. A roundup of how to freeze herbs.
- Frozen whole tomatoes: Why buy tins from the store? Pop whole fruits into bags, jars or freezer boxes; pop some out as needed. Before freezing, you can drop them in boiling water for a minute then ladle into a bowl of ice water to easily slip skins off first if you are anti-tomato skin, but I freeze mine as they come from the garden.
- Tomato junk: What to do with the last dregs of the vegetable garden? Make an all-purpose base to soups, stews, chilis. Waste not…
- Freezing garlic: Why put up with withering cloves in winter and spring when you can have peak-of-perfection garlic on hand? I freeze garlic and onions in Weck and Mason jars.
- Frozen peppers: They’re cheap at peak harvest time, pricey in winter, and so easy to freeze. (So is rhubarb, by the way, and asparagus, though that last one wants the quickest blanching first.)
- Fast broth or stock: Don’t waste your trimmings or less-than-perfect veggies. Make stock.
- Easy refrigerator pickles: A hand-me-down recipe (and A Way to Garden’s most popular story ever). And an fyi on pickling salt: Why some batches of pickles get too salty; mystery solved. Oh, and you’ll need pickling spice, too.
- Prefer bread and butter pickles? This 1952 vintage recipe, good in the fridge or hot-packed, is a new-to-me classic.
- Applesauce? I freeze the year’s worth every fall, and here’s how. Same with love-apple sauce (meaning: tomato sauce!). Again, I do it fast and furious, leave skins on in both cases (more vitamins, more fiber), but you can remove them.
- I freeze some peaches each summer, too, in canning jars with apple-juice concentrate as the “syrup.”
- Baked beans: My recipe is delicious, good for you, and freezes beautifully, so make a double batch.
- A final tip: With soups, broth, and other liquids, I don’t dilute as much as I would if I were serving immediately. “Concentrated” liquids take up much less freezer space.
how to enter to win the weck jars and books
THERE ARE 3 WAYS TO WIN [UPDATE: this giveaway is now closed], and each of the six winners chosen at random will win won a set of mini-tulip Weck jars; a signed copy of “And I Shall Have Some Peace There” from Margaret Roach, and Gayla Trail’s recipe-filled “Drinking the Summer Garden” (delivered as a digital bundle). Two winners will be were chosen on each of our three websites.
All you have to do is answer this question:
Besides for putting up food, what do you use canning jars for?
(If your answer is “nothing,” tell us what you can in them, or go ahead and just say “Count me in” if you’re feeling shy or have no jars yet. We’re easy! And you can cut and paste the same answer all three places.)
Winners will be were drawn randomly after entries closed at midnight on Tuesday, September 4, 2012, and informed by email. Good luck to all, and I hope we’ve inspired you to spend some of your holiday weekend putting up the harvest.