Green beans can be tricky to get just right: Let them cook a minute too long and they turn into a mushy mess but pull ‘em from the pan a minute too soon and you’ll end up chewing on a grass-flavored squeaky toy. But when properly prepared, green beans have a bright, vegetal sweetness and crisp-tender crunch that’s totally irresistible—which you already know if you’ve mastered the art of sautéing these suckers (hello, salad Niçoise.) In that case, we’d like to give you props on your culinary prowess, and also say that we totally understand why you buy these beans in bulk at peak-season…and sometimes go overboard. Luckily, we have a simple solution to your storage problem. Here’s all the information you need on how to freeze green beans so you can showcase (and gobble up) that garden-fresh flavor all year long.
1. Prep the green beans. A watched pot never boils, so set your blanching station up before turning your attention to the beans. To do this, fill a large stockpot two-thirds full with water and add a tablespoon of kosher salt before covering and bringing to a boil over high heat. Next, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with equal parts of ice and cold water. Now that your blanching station is set up, get the green beans ready for scalding by washing them in cold water. Transfer your clean vegetables to a cutting board and trim the tough stem end off of each bean, and voila—they’re ready for blanching.
2. Blanch and cool. Submerge the trimmed beans into the pot of boiling water and leave them there for three minutes. Freezing an extra-large quantity? No problem—just blanch the green beans in batches so you don’t crowd the stockpot. When the time is up, promptly remove the green beans from the boiling water and dunk them directly into the prepared ice bath. (Note: If you aren’t blanching all the beans at once, be sure to add more ice between batches so the ice bath doesn’t go from frigid to luke-warm.) To ensure your veggies have cooled completely, give the green beans three minutes in the ice water before you strain them and proceed to the next step.
3. Flash-freeze the green beans. Those blanched and cooled green beans are almost ready for freezing. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and arrange the beans in a single layer so that none are touching. Gently pat the beans dry with a paper towel to prevent the formation of ice crystals (i.e., freezer burn) and double-check they still have the required amount of personal space. Place the uncovered baking sheet in the freezer for at least two hours or until the beans are frozen solid.
4. Bag the beans for long-term storage. Good on you for flash-freezing your beans before busting out the storage bags. Had you skipped this step, your green beans might have bunched together in the freezer, forcing you to break (and butcher) them apart. So here’s the final step: Simply transfer the frozen green beans into plastic storage bags or airtight container and use a straw to suck out as much air as possible before you seal and store in the back of the freezer. And that’s it—your peak-season green beans will stay fresh in the freezer for up to a full year.
Need some fresh ideas for how to use up those tasty beans? Toss the beans with olive oil, some Parmesan and a hit of paprika and you’re on your way to deliciously crispy green bean “fries. Or check out these new twists on the time-honored green bean casserole. Or skip boiling these bad boys and blister them instead—here’s how. Bon appétit.