Friday, March 18, 2011

Freezing green beans

Green beans taste good and are known for their high nutritional value.  They are loaded with Vitamins A, C, B1 & B2, omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorous, manganese and dietary fibers.  However, fresh green beans are not available all year-round.   For steady supply, many people freeze green beans rather than have them in cans. Freezing green beans is the easiest method and yet maintaining their dietary value.  This can be done in very simple steps.

To start with, prepare at hand desired quantity of the freshest green beans to freeze.  If the beans are taken from your own backyard, harvest early in the morning.  The flavor is at its best if picked while the weather is hot.  If purchased from the market, you can test the freshness by breaking it in half.  If it cracks, then it is fresh.  Freshness can be seen as well from its color.  It is fresh if the color is bright green and has no brown stains.  If there is time gap between harvesting/purchasing and freezing, put the beans in the refrigerator.  Never use beans that are already overripe or had dried out.  Freshness is crucial when freezing green beans, otherwise the freezing process doesn’t serve its purpose.

Wash the green beans in lukewarm or plain cold water in a colander or strainer.
The next step is to remove the stem ends of the beans and the strings, if any.  You may cut them to pieces that you prefer.

Blanche the green beans.  Fresh vegetables contain enzymes and bacteria that change the color, texture and taste of vegetables and destroy the nutrients.  The blanching process removes these enzymes and bacteria.  This is done by first dipping the beans in boiling water for at least 3 minutes (or enough time to prevent the action of enzymes and kill the bacteria, usually 3-3.5 minutes).  Don’t overdo it.

After 3 minutes or so, the beans should be cooled immediately to prevent overcooking.  Immerse the green beans into a big bowl with ice-cold water.  Keep adding cold water until the beans have lost warmness.  Cool the green beans the same duration as they were blanched.  Drain thoroughly.

Place the cooled beans inside a vacuum food sealer or zeeper bags. Remove as much air from the bag and seal tightly.  Store the bags in the freezer. 

In less than an hour, we are done.  Freezing green beans consumes lesser time and only a colander, pot to boil water with, a container for ice-cold water and vacuum food sealer or zeeper bags as tools. 
Frozen green beans usually last until 12 months.  Beyond that, it won’t taste as good.

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