Runner beans are one of the favourite vegetables in the UK and they are relatively easy to grow. For this reason, many of us do so in our own gardens or allotments. However, doing this could see you with a large crop that you simply aren’t going to be able to eat before they go bad so you need to know how to freeze runner beans. We are pleased to tell you that this is a simple process.
Much like with other similar vegetables, runner beans should be blanched before they are frozen as this will prolong their life and help to retain their quality. There is also a specific degree of preparation if you want the best outcome from your frozen runner beans including removing any stringy parts and chopping the beans into ribbons.
Let’s take a closer look at everything you need to do to successfully freeze your runner beans.
How To Prepare Runner Beans For Freezing
Before you can think about taking your runner beans anywhere near the freezer, you must prepare them first. The reason that this is so important is that it will help to lock in the flavour, texture and colour of the runner beans. Omitting these steps will mean that you end up with a lacklustre, floppy runner bean that is lacking in flavour.
One of the first things you will need to do is rinse your runner beans under fresh running water. This will remove any dirt or debris and will also take away any chemicals or pesticides that may be present.
It is vital that you give them a really good wash using a strainer or colander to shake the beans about ensuring that all parts of the vegetables are cleaned. Be sure to allow them a few minutes to drain off entirely before you move on to the next step.
You will notice that your runner beans have stringy ends, while these won’t cause you any harm, it is good practice to remove them prior to freezing. To do this, you will need a sharp knife and a chopping board.
Simply line the beans up in small groups and remove the stems with your knife. You don’t want to go overboard and remove too much, just half an inch is more than enough from each end.
In addition to this, you will also need to destring the beans. If you look down the middle of the bean, you will notice that there is a fibrous string holding the casing together. This can be peeled away pretty easily once the ends have been chopped. However, if you have problems, you may need to pick the end away before the string will peel off.
You can also cut the beans into smaller pieces before you pop them in the freezer, although this isn’t essential, especially if you like to serve the beans long. However, if you are going to cut them, avoid cutting them too small as this may cause problems with them sticking together in the freezer.
One of the most important aspects of preparing your runner beans for freezing is to blanch them. As we have mentioned, this simple process is important in retaining the colour, flavour and overall quality of the beans and should not be omitted.
You will need to bring a pot of water to a boil. Once it reaches boiling point, you can adjust the heat so that this temperature is maintained. The idea of blanching is that the beans will be scalded but not cooked so getting the temperature just right is critical.
Once you are satisfied, you will need to drop the runner beans into the hot water and leave for them for around two minutes. When you take them out, the beans should look plump but not be too soft or dark. If this is the case, they may have begun to overcook.
Now you will need to cool the beans by placing them directly into some cold water for around the same length of time. Doing this will stop the cooking process and ensure that your runner beans are just right for freezing. When the time is up, you can pat the runner beans dry with some kitchen towel.
How to Freeze Runner Beans
It is now time to freeze your runner beans and while you could be forgiven for thinking that simply throwing them into a freezer bag and hoping for the best would work, there is a process that you should follow.
- Begin by placing the beans on a flat surface such as a baking tray, cutting board or plate.
- Make sure that you leave plenty of space between each piece of bean; this will prevent them from sticking together in the freezer.
- Now place this into the freezer for around 30 minutes, although, you can wait until they are completely frozen.
- You can now remove the beans from the freezer and place them into freezer bags. They shouldn’t stick together now as they are already frozen.
- Label each bag with the date that they were frozen as this will allow you to easily remember when the beans need to be eaten.
How Long Do Runner Beans Last In The Freezer?
Once you have frozen your runner beans, you can sit back and relax for up to six months before you need to worry about the quality diminishing entirely. That being said, since runner beans have a high water content, they will typically keep for up to a year and still be safe to eat. However, you should be prepared for the flavour and texture to lessen over time.
You will be able to tell the quality of the beans by looking for signs of freezer burn. This might include the beans having large pieces of ice on them or the colour being very dull. Furthermore, the runner beans may take on a wrinkled appearance. In this case, it’s time to throw them out.
Runner beans are a delicious and healthy food option that can be easily grown in your garden vegetable patch. However, if you find yourself with a large crop, it can be a good idea to store them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Be sure to trim and blanch them before freezing as this will prolong their life. In addition, you should make sure to separate them for the initial freeze to prevent them from sticking together. You can transfer them into bags once they are fully frozen.
Garden Doctor Tips
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“Ensure that you keep your wallflowers well watered in the summer, they are big drinkers!”
“Sow your wallflowers in pots indoors and transplant them out in May!”
“Wallflowers will grow quite a bit of foliage so plant them at least 30cm from each other!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you freeze runner beans without blanching them first?
The short answer is yes you can but the question is, should you? And the answer to that is no. For the sake of a few minutes, it is not worth skipping this important step if you want your beans to remain their best.
Do green beans need to be dry before freezing?
After blanching, your beans should be pat dry. Any excess water that you leave on your beans will soon turn to ice in the freezer.
Why do you have to blanch green beans before freezing?
Blanching ensures that beans retain their texture and their colour meaning that they will remain as good as fresh once they are cooked.