Here at the commune, we found ourselves with a little problem. Our bush beans had started producing but not in such numbers that we could all take our fill. So what to do?
After much discussion it was decided that I would pick and store the beans as they came ready and then we'd share our load of deliciousness together.
But the beans just didn't come fast enough for refrigeration alone. We needed to blanche and freeze these bad boys! (One problem: I had no idea how to do that... BUT NOW I DO!)
Step 1: Get your steamer ready.
I used my handy-dandy rice cooker/steamer/cake maker on the steamer setting.
Step 2: Prepare the beans.
Ours had been chilling out in the fridge (washed, dried, wrapped in paper towels, and stored in bags).
Altogether we had 64 green beans and 28 purple green beans. :D
<-Look at those beauties!
To prepare your beans, just snap off each end (pulling the string if one presents itself) and snapping them in two. The bean should do most of the work for you and it can be quite a meditative process (or lots of fun to share with a loved one).
Step 3: Steam your veg for 3 minutes.
They aren't quite cooked through after 3 minutes but the resources I've used say that is all that is needed. I suppose you'll cook them the rest of the way when you use them.
Step 4: Ice bath
Once they've finished their 3-minute steam, cool them down quickly in an ice bath (for 6 minutes).
We didn't have any ice so I just filled the sink with cold water and threw in a few frozen veggies. I put them in one side and when the water seemed to warm up a bit, I switched sides. Do this as much as you need to in order to cool the beans down quickly and stop the cooking process.
Step 5: Drain the beans well. (Nothing I saw suggested that you need to actually dry them off. I didn't because I want them to retain as much moisture as possible.
Step 6: Bag 'em!
I threw these little guys in a sturdy freezer bag (be sure to leave at least 1 inch of empty space at the top) and then sucked all the air out.
Step 7: Throw them in the freezer. (I labelled mine first: 'Garden beans 06/07/09'.)