Runner beans, with their vibrant green hue and crisp texture, are a garden favourite for many. Freshly picked from the garden, they bring a burst of flavour to any dish. However, like many garden produce, their freshness is fleeting. Freezing offers a solution, allowing you to capture the essence of summer and enjoy it throughout the year. In this guide, we’ll look at how to freeze runner beans, ensuring they retain their freshness, flavour, and nutrients.
Why Freeze Runner Beans?
There are a few reasons why we need to freeze runner beans:
1 – Prolonged Shelf Life
Freezing runner beans can extend their shelf life, ensuring you have a steady supply long after the growing season has ended. Instead of the typical 3-day freshness window, frozen runner beans can last for months, ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
2 – Nutrient Preservation
Fresh runner beans are packed with vitamins and minerals. Freezing them locks in these nutrients, ensuring that even months later, they remain a healthy addition to your meals. Unlike other preservation methods, freezing minimizes nutrient loss, giving you the full health benefits of fresh beans.
3 – Convenience
Having a stash of frozen runner beans means you’re always prepared, whether it’s for a last-minute dinner or a planned feast. They can be quickly defrosted and added to dishes, saving you both time and effort. Plus, with the beans already cleaned, trimmed, and sliced half the work is already done!
How to Choose the Right Runner Beans to Freeze?
Not all runner beans are created equal. For optimal freezing results, look for beans that are free from blemishes, spots, or any signs of decay. Additionally, avoid beans that are overly mature or have a tough texture, as these may not freeze as well.
How to Prepare Your Runner Beans for Freezing?
Before freezing, there are a couple of things you need to think about:
Cleaning Your Runner Beans
Begin by placing the runner beans in a colander and rinsing them thoroughly under cold running water. This will help remove any dirt, insects, or residues. Gently shake the colander to drain excess water and pat the beans dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Trimming Your Runner Beans
Using a sharp knife, cut off the ends of each bean. If you notice any fibrous strings along the sides of the beans, use a vegetable peeler or the edge of the knife to remove them. These strings can be tough when cooked, so it’s best to remove them before freezing.
Slicing Your Runner Beans
Depending on your preference and how you plan to use the beans in future dishes, you can either slice them into ribbons or cut them into 1-2cm thick pieces. If you’re aiming for ribbons, a vegetable peeler can be a handy tool. For chunks, use a sharp knife and ensure uniform sizes for even freezing and cooking.
Do I Need to Blanch Runner Beans Before Freezing?
Yes, you need to blanch runner beans before freezing. Blanching is the process of briefly boiling the beans and then rapidly cooling them in ice-cold water. This step is essential for several reasons:
- Preserving Colour and Texture: Blanching helps retain the vibrant green colour of the runner beans and ensures they maintain a crisp texture even after freezing and thawing.
- Deactivating Enzymes: Runner beans, like many vegetables, contain enzymes that can degrade their quality over time. Blanching deactivates these enzymes, preventing the beans from becoming discoloured, mushy, or losing their flavour during storage.
- Removing Microorganisms: The brief boiling process during blanching can also help reduce the number of microorganisms on the surface of the beans, contributing to longer and safer storage.
- Retaining Nutrients: Blanching can help lock in the vitamins and minerals present in runner beans, ensuring they remain nutritious when consumed later.
How to Blanch Runner Beans
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a rolling boil.
- While waiting for the water to boil, prepare a large bowl filled with ice-cold water.
- Once boiling, carefully add the prepared runner beans to the pot.
- Allow the beans to boil for 2 minutes. Ensure they remain bright green and slightly tender.
- Using a slotted spoon or colander, quickly remove the beans from the boiling water.
Immediately after blanching, transfer the beans to the bowl of ice-cold water. This rapid cooling process, known as “shocking,” halts the cooking and helps retain the beans’ vibrant colour. Ensure the beans are fully submerged and let them sit in the cold water for a few minutes until completely cooled.
How to Freeze Runner Beans
There are a couple of different ways that you can freeze your runner beans and they are:
1 – Open Freezing
After blanching, we will pat the beans dry and then spread the beans out on a tray, ensuring they aren’t touching each other. Then we add them to the freezer. This method prevents the beans from forming a large clump, making it easier to retrieve and use individual portions later.
2 – Storing in Freezer Bags
Once the beans are solidly frozen, they can be transferred to a storage container or bag. Before sealing, press out as much air as possible from the bags to prevent freezer burn. If using containers, ensure they are sealed tightly.
3 – Labelling
It’s essential to label your bags or containers with the date of freezing. This not only helps you keep track of the beans’ freshness but also ensures you use older batches first. Proper labelling can be a lifesaver, especially when you have multiple items in the freezer.
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
“Ensure that you plant your wallflowers in a nice and sunny spot!”
“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.
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.
How to tell if runner beans have freezer burn?
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.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.