Freeze green beans the easy way - spend less time and have a better texture after freezing by NOT blanching them first, really! We tested blanched vs. unblanched green beans and our whole family agrees - this is a case where easier actually is better.
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Easy recipes are my favorites and this recipe showing how to freeze fresh green beans without blanching is the definition of easy.
You can find lots more simple preserving recipes in the preserving recipe index, including how to freeze snap peas without blanching, how to freeze broccoli blanched or unblanched (yes!), an amazing Addictive Tomato Chutney, and the popular Easy Garlic Refrigerator Pickles.
Can you freeze raw green beans? Yes, absolutely! Green beans are a vegetable that takes well to freezing and are easy to use in recipes from frozen.
But if you want to spend less time freezing fresh green beans and have a better texture after freezing, follow the simple steps outlined here to freeze green beans without blanching them first.
We put it to the test and we all agreed - the beans frozen without blanching were the best.
Wait, don't you have to blanch green beans before freezing?
Yes, I know almost everything you read says the "proper" way to freeze beans is to blanch first (immerse in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then plunge into an ice bath).
Yes, I know there's an enzyme that will make the beans break down quicker in the freezer if you store them without blanching.
However, I tested this years ago because our family wasn't happy with the traditional way to freeze green beans. And I'd like to challenge you to do the same test and see what you think.
A Little Background
Our family used to eat canned green beans. That's how I grew up and so I never liked the rubbery texture of frozen beans. When I started growing beans, I pickled and canned them and even learned to pressure can, just for green beans (though only a couple of times - pressure canning isn't simple enough for me!).
But then we had a child - a picky child - who decided she didn't like canned green beans anymore, but who would eat them if they were frozen or fresh. Since beans were one of only three vegetables she would eat, guess who started freezing beans?
Except I still didn't like that texture (or the weird squeaking sound they can make as you chew...). So I decided to do some research online and found mostly the recommendation to blanch, of course, but I also found two rebel souls on gardening forums who said they didn't blanch their beans and they came out "perfect."
What, really? I had to try it.
The Test: Blanched vs. Unblanched Green Beans
First, I chopped up the beans like I normally did, but then I put them directly into freezer bags. Sheesh, this was easy.
NOTE: Many people have asked about washing the beans first, so here's my answer: I don't.
I garden organically and grow pole beans (here's where I wax poetic about my favorite pole bean, Emerite) so the beans never touch the ground. I trust my cleanliness when picking them. You most definitely can choose to wash them - but you will need to dry them thoroughly before freezing to avoid crystals (you can use a trick I mention in this video to help dry them and/or lay them out for 10-20 minutes on towels).
Next, I used my straw "vacuum sealer" trick to remove as much air as I could from the baggie with a straw before sealing and freezing.
Finally, I froze the bag for two weeks and then served them for dinner - which wasn't easy when fresh beans were still available, that's for sure. But a test is a test, so we persevered.
We couldn't tell a difference from beans that had been blanched. I thought the texture was a little better, too.
BUT - maybe it was because it had only been two weeks. Maybe that enzyme takes longer to start breaking the beans down, as they say.
So, I froze ALL our remaining beans that way. Yep - I didn't blanch any beans at all that year.
Then I waited to share the results with you until I knew that they could be frozen for longer than two weeks. I needed to be able to tell you if they'd last a whole year in the freezer and hold up like blanched beans.
So, can you freeze green beans without blanching them first?
They are just as good - if not better - than green beans we took the time to blanch in the past.
The texture seems better - and my family agrees with me. Really!
The following year with this method I could easily preserve 8 quart bags of beans in about an hour. It certainly goes a lot quicker when there's no blanching involved!
UPDATE: I've since learned there are LOTS of produce that freezes well without blanching - grab this one-page guide to help you decide what you can freeze this way:
How Long To Store Frozen Green Beans
You can keep beans frozen this way up to a year in a non-frost-free freezer (frost-free freezers may produce more freezer burn, so I'd try to use them up sooner).
TIP: I've used 2-year old bags of green beans and haven't noticed much of a difference, quality-wise, when they're cooked a bit longer like this method. Test and see before throwing anything out - it's only a quality issue and not a safety issue.
So my challenge? Be a rebel like me - try it and tell me if you think so, too.
Non-Blanched Freeze Green Beans Video
There's no need to defrost the green beans - add them frozen to:
- Soups and stews
- Stir fries
- Side dish idea #1: Long-cooked (20 minutes) Green Beans with Bacon and Onions
- Side dish ideas #2: Roasted at 500 degrees - dump green beans frozen on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and seasoning, stir, add chopped onions if you like, and roast for 10-15 minutes.
I've preserved them for many years like this now and really will never go back to cumbersome blanching!
How to Freeze Green Beans Without Blanching
- Fresh green beans
- freezer bags
- straw, optional
- Wash green beans if needed and dry completely. (See Notes below)
- Trim green beans ends and cut into 1 to 1-inch lengths (or desired size).
- Place in quart-sized zip-top freezer bags, removing as much air as possible with a straw (or other method) and seal.
- Label with date and what's in the bag, place in freezer and freeze for up to a year.
- To Use: No need to defrost - use frozen and roast in a 450 degree oven for 5-8 minutes, long cook with bacon, or use in casseroles, soups, and stews all winter long.
- Wash beans and then use a salad spinner to get as much water off as possible.
- Transfer beans to a towel on the counter and let sit until dry before freezing.
Update #1: Do a Test Bag First
I've heard from a couple of readers who tried this method and didn't care for it - and many more who've loved it like we do - and so my suggestion is to try this with a quart, freeze the green beans for about a week or two, cook them and see what your family likes.
I want to be clear that they are still like home-frozen green beans, not firm like fresh, but when cooked in soups and stews for 20 minutes or longer are just as good as blanched frozen beans. So the comparison should be to blanched frozen beans, not to fresh beans.
Update #2: FAQ & Testimonials
I've gotten a ton of comments with many people telling me that they don't blanch either or that they remember their mothers or grandmothers freezing green beans without bothering with the blanching process.
It's nice to know I'm not alone and that many people are like my family and like the beans better without blanching first.
I've also gotten the comments telling me that blanching:
- Stops the enzymes that cause the beans to mature and become tough (I haven't found that to be true in my experience in eating them, though the science might be right).
- Kills bacteria (I don't worry about this with my home-grown, organic beans and we eat a lot of raw produce of all kinds, which I don't plan on stopping any time soon).
- And even that the enzymes, unchecked by blanching, will "break down vitamins so that we are eating empty food." I found this article on the science of food preparation, however says "The vitamin and mineral content of unblanched frozen foods is relatively stable."
One thing I know for sure is that I will never freeze green beans any other way (I now freeze snap peas and corn this way now, too) and there are a lot of other people out there who feel the same way as our family does:
From Virginia: "Just ate a bag of ” frozen” Blue Lake. not blanched string beans from july 17, 2012. a little ice on them. washed them under cold water to get rid of most ice. still frozen, put in pot, seasoned my usual way-little salt-cooked a short time not to mush time. they were delicious!!!!!! june 17th——2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
From Charlotte: "I have always blanched all my veggies, but when I saw your article I decided to try a test batch, did some blanched and some as you suggested, I was sure the blanched would be much better, they had a prettier color, but I must admit, the un blanched ones were better, much better, easier, faster…. and your method is now my now method too, Thank you, (and this just shows, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!)"
Recipes to use unblanched frozen green beans:
This article has been updated - it was originally published in August of 2012.
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