When it comes to healthy veggies, there's no doubt that green beans (also known as string beans or snap beans) are one of the tastiest staples out there — not only are they packed with essential vitamins and fiber, they're also incredibly versatile and great in any green bean recipe. Of course, if you're buying them fresh, they only last a couple of days in the fridge before you have to throw them out — which is why you might be wondering exactly how to freeze green beans to preserve their freshness for future use.
We compiled a helpful guide on how to freeze those fresh greens you picked up on sale at the grocery store or bought from the farmer's market (or grew yourself in your garden), so you can enjoy them any time in any healthy salad, pasta dish or even in a delicious green bean casserole recipe. While fresh green beans should be eaten within three to five days when stored in the refrigerator, frozen green beans can last up to eight months, according to FoodSafety.gov. That means you're free to enjoy them any time of year!
How do you choose green beans for freezing?
You’ll want to start with the freshest green beans possible. While green beans are available year-round at supermarkets, they’re at their absolute best May through October. Look for beans that are green (without any yellow or brown parts), free of blemishes, and firm (not limp, shriveled, or lumpy).
Should you trim green beans before freezing?
After gently rinsing the green beans in cold water, trim off the stem ends of the green beans, as well as the tail ends, if desired. If your green bean variety has a stringy fiber that runs throughout the bean pod, trim that off too.
Cutting the green beans into smaller pieces is completely optional. Usually one- to two-inch pieces are the way to go, but it all depends on the recipe you want to use the them for.
Do you really need to blanch green beans before freezing?
Hear us out — blanching your green beans before freezing is totally worth it. Blanching is a process in which vegetables are boiled, then cooled quickly in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Dunking them in cold water halts enzyme actions that can cause a loss in flavor, color, and texture, therefore ensuring that your green beans will preserve their freshness while frozen. It also cleans the vegetables of dirt and helps retain vitamins and minerals, too. If you skip the blanching step and just place your green beans straight into the freezer, you run the risk of your veggies becoming mushy, flavorless and far from their original bright green shade over time.
How do you blanch green beans?
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you're waiting, fill a large bowl with ice water. Once your pot is boiling, add a generous amount of salt (around a tablespoon) for a gallon of water.
Working in batches, add green beans to boiling water and cook until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes depending on the size of beans.
Using a wire skimmer (often called spider) or slotted spoon, transfer beans to ice water (this will immediately stop cooking and preserve their bright green color).
Let them soak about 4 minutes, then using tongs, transfer to a towel to drain and dry. Repeat with remaining beans, adding more water to the pot to boil and more ice to the bowl as needed.
How do you properly freeze green beans?
Do a quick-freeze first: Arrange beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. This initial step ensures that the beans won’t all freeze together in a huge clump. Then you can pack the frozen beans into resealable bags, containers, or jars. Make sure to compact the beans in, then press out as much air as possible and seal tightly. It’s smart to label each bag or container with the contents, amount, and date so that you’ll be able to easily find them and keep track of how fresh they are. Finally, you can now place them in the freezer for up to eight months!