As some of you may remember, I planted green beans seeds in the circular, stone raised garden, along with some marigold plants I'd purchased. I wasn't sure how the two would get along, but found out they do extremely well together. :)
I picked our first batch of green beans a week ago, using them that evening. The next batch of beans I picked, I processed and froze for later use. A bit of background.......I took 3 classes from the Michigan State Extension Office, which was sponsored by our local food co-op, Oryana. The classes were 1) Water Bath Canning, 2) Preserving Low Acid Foods Using a Pressure Canner, and 3) Dehydrating and Freezing Foods. I have used 3 of the 4 methods so far, with Pressure Canning yet to try/experience.
Back to my Green Bean Processing. After picking, sorting, and cleaning, the beans were ready for blanching. By the way, blanching is done so that the "ripening process" of foods is stopped. If not blanched, the food, even though frozen, will continue to ripen or mature, possibly going past its prime while in storage. Blanching stops this process and allows the food to be stored, in better condition, for a longer period of time. When I froze my asparagus this Spring, I didn't know the reasoning behind blanching and followed advice to the contrary. I now know better......
While the beans were blanching, I prepared my "ice water bath" that the beans would be plunged into from the blancher to immediately stop the "cooking" process.
Here is the blancher doing its thing. The beans needed to be blanched for 3 minutes, timed from when the water came back to a boil after adding the green beans.
After timing the 3 minutes of boiling, the blancher was taken off the stove and set into the sink so that I could easily remove its insert, which is a built in strainer of sorts, and then poured the blanched green beans into the ice water bath. The beans were blanched for 3 minutes and their time in the ice water is also 3 minutes. That holds true for whatever vegetable is blanched, the time for blanching is used for their time cooling down in ice water.
The drained green beans were then divided into meal sized portions and placed into quart sized freezer bags. Did you notice my little bag holder? It is adjustable for different size bags, folds down quite flat when not being used, and is easily stored in a drawer. It certainly helps with the ladling process. :)
I now have 4 meal size packages of "home grown" green beans in the freezer. It may not seem like a lot after the work involved with processing, but I personally think the time and effort used to process these 4 bags was well worth it, and I will be especially proud when I pull them from the freezer this Winter and use them, knowing that only sun, rain (or well water), organic fertilizer, and a little work on my part, brought these green beans to our table. ;)