Tips for Freezing Green Beans

— By Kate McCarty, Food Systems Professional, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

July brings the first harvest of green beans ready for eating fresh, pickling, and freezing. If you find yourself with a big harvest, freezing is a great way to preserve beans for later use. Freezing results in a product with a texture that’s closer to fresh than canning does. But we often hear from people who end up with rubbery, overcooked, mushy frozen beans. Certainly not the goal!

The key to high-quality home frozen green beans lies in blanching. The USDA recommends blanching green beans before freezing which kills enzymes inside the vegetables that can cause a loss of color, texture, and flavor over time. To avoid mushy green beans, it’s important to stop the cooking process before they become overcooked. Use an ice water bath to shock green beans after blanching for a higher-quality frozen product. Freeze beans in freezer-grade plastic containers and use within 6 to 8 months for best results.

To freeze green beans, select beans when they are young and tender—overgrown beans can be tough. Wash beans and remove any stem and leaf bits. Cut into pieces that are 2 to 4 inches in length. Bring one gallon of water to a rapid boil in a blanching pot, which is a large stockpot with a blanching basket insert. This is a helpful tool to have so you can remove all of the beans at once. But a slotted spoon will do the trick if you don’t have a blanching basket. When the water is boiling, add one pound of prepared green beans and boil for 3 minutes (start the timer once the water has returned to a boil). Avoid blanching too many beans at once or the water will take too long to return to a boil and result in overcooked beans.

After blanching is complete, remove the blanching basket and empty the beans into a large bowl full of ice water. Adding a colander to the ice water will aid in easy draining after vegetables have cooled. Chill vegetables for 3 minutes, then remove and drain. Dry vegetables in a salad spinner or with clean dish towels. Pack into freezer-grade plastic or glass containers and label and date. Store in the freezer, set at 32 degrees F or below.

For a demonstration of how to freeze green beans, watch How to Freeze Green Beans by UMaine Extension Educator Kathy Savoie.


This post was originally posted to Maine Home Garden News and has been updated.