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Once you begin to grow vegetables, you often find you have a surplus of some vegetables or another. Runner Beans tend to provide bumper crops often. The best thing to do is freeze them and use them when you want them. Here is how you do it.
As with most vegetables, runner beans need to be blanched before freezing to help retain their fresh flavour and colour. Follow our 6 steps below to ensure you know how to freeze runner beans correctly and to ensure great-tasting runner beans at any time of the year.
Firstly, it is important to remove any dirt or debris that might have been collected on the runner beans during the harvesting of your runner beans. You can simply do this by placing your runner beans in a large colander or strainer and washing them in running cold water until you are happy all dirt has been removed.
Now, arrange a handful of beans in a ‘line’ on your cutting board, and slice off the fibrous stem ends (remove about 1⁄2 inch (1.5 cm) and discard them). Then, trim all the beans you want to freeze in the same manner.
In addition to trimming your runner beans, you will also need to ‘destring’ the beans. These strings must be removed before you cook the beans or consume them. To do this, simply pinch the string between your thumb and index finger and pull it out of the bean.
Once you have removed all of the strings, you can then, take a sharp knife and slice the beans into 1-inch (25mm) pieces ready for the next step.
Photo Courtesy of: Riverford Organic Farms
One of the most important steps in freezing runner beans is to ‘blanch’ them. This process locks in your runner beans’ nutrients and flavour.
To do this, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Then, add your runner beans and boil/simmer them for 2 minutes. Don’t forget you are not cooking them only ‘scalding them because this stops the ‘enzyme’ activity in the beans which can cause them to lose their flavour and colour as mentioned above.
After boiling your runner beans for 2 minutes, drain them in a colander or sieve and run cold water over them until they are cool enough to handle. This will stop the cooking process and lock in their nutrients.
Now, carefully place all the beans on a paper towel and ‘gently’ pat dry removing all or as much moisture as possible… leave for a further 5 minutes to cool and dry further.
Drying will ensure fewer ice crystals will form on the runner beans when frozen. Runner beans will ‘freeze burn’ more frequently if they aren’t adequately dried before being packed away.
N.B. At this point as an option, you can place/spread, the individual pieces of runner bean on a baking tray or similar. Ensure they are spaced out and let them cool in the fridge or freezer for 20 – 30 minutes before packaging them. Doing this will stop the runner beans from ‘clumping together’ in a solid lump in a freezer bag or container when you eventually freeze them.
Now that you have ‘blanched’ your runner beans, you can now package them into freezer bags or containers. I prefer to use ‘ziplock’ freezer bags as they are easier to store and stack in the freezer and the air is easily removed.
Pack the runner beans into the freezer bag/container, removing as much air as possible. Once you have filled your bags or containers there is one more step before simply placing them in the freezer.
NB: For more convenience should aim to fill each bag or container with no more than 3 cups (750ml) or 2-3 portions of runner beans per bag or container.
This will ensure that you do not overload your freezer with too much food at once, which could cause it to defrost slowly and lose its quality and of course, you only defrost what you need each time.
Make sure you know what’s in each bag by writing down the product’s name and the current month on each bag in a visible location. The runner beans are now ready to be stored in the freezer.
By keeping track of the storage time using labels, you’ll be able to tell how long the beans have been stored. Keep the labels facing outward so that when you look at the labels to tell what’s inside and how long they have been frozen.
Place your frozen runner beans in a colander and run cold water over them until they are defrosted enough to handle. You can then cook as normal with no need to blanch again.
You can keep your frozen runner beans for up to 12 months if stored at a temperature of -18°C or below. If stored at a higher temperature, the quality of the food will deteriorate over time. We would recommend consumption within 8 months of freezing to ensure full flavour.
It is safe to freeze runner beans without blanching, but we do not recommend doing so. Blanching runner beans prior to freezing preserves their fresh taste and colour.
You can sow runner bean seeds from April onwards in a propagator or directly in the garden from May to July, provided the soil is warm enough. Wait until after the last frosts before transplanting runner bean seedlings into the garden.
All runner bean seeds—black, white, or purple with black stripes—are edible. Soak them until they are plump, then boil them for at least 10 minutes to eliminate the hazardous substances that are present in all dried beans. Cook as usual afterwards.
Once your frozen runner beans have been thawed, they can be used in any recipe that requires fresh runner beans. They can also be used as an ingredient in soups, stews, casseroles etc…
It’s simple to grow runner beans in your garden’s vegetable patch, and they’re an excellent choice for a healthy, tasty meal. If you have too many of them, you may want to store them in your freezer until you’re ready to eat them.
To preserve them, trim and blanch them beforehand and then freeze them. You should also separate them prior to freezing to prevent them from sticking together. Once they are frozen, you can package them in bags.
We hope you have found How to Freeze Runner Beans helpful and look out for more tips from garden to kitchen. Visit our FAQ page for more information on a whole host of garden information and jargon which you may find interesting.