This summer, I’m giving myself a crash course in preserving the harvest. I’m grabbing up fresh produce whenever I can and am trying my best to preserve the spoils of summer. There is so much goodness to be had, and I want to do everything I can to make sure I can enjoy this summer produce throughout the rest of the year.
That being said, this past week I found myself with five pounds of fresh, local green beans. I happily devoured a bunch of the green beans, of course (steamed, pan fried with brown butter, tossed in this incredible potato salad), but I knew I wanted to save a good portion of them for mid-winter eating. Because, the sad reality is that green beans don’t grow all year round (at least, they don’t in Oregon). And since I’ve made a commitment to do my best to eat seasonally and locally, green beans aren’t something I tend to eat in the winter months. The good news is, however, that I can preserve some of the harvest so that I have a few green beans to snack on all year long.
I decided to go about preserving the green beans in two different ways.
First, I froze a bunch of them. This takes little to no time, and is a fantastic way to preserve this particular veggie. Essentially, all you have to do is quickly blanch the green beans in boiling water, rinse them with cold water, pat dry, and separate them into various ziplock baggies for freezing (For a full post & instructions on freezing green beans, see this tutorial). Frozen green beans are great additions soups, stews, stir fry, curries and more. I’m sure that frozen green beans could even be used for the infamous Thanksgiving side dish, green bean casserole. :)
Secondly, I made a big batch of pickled green beans. I came across this lovely recipe for pickled green beans with lemon and rosemary. The recipe was simple, the flavors sounded perfect, and so I made (and canned) a big batch of them. I have to wait 3 weeks until I open the pickled green beans, so I can’t actually tell you how they taste yet…but I will say that they look fantastic! And I can’t imagine that the combination of green beans, lemon, garlic, and rosemary would be bad. In fact, I’m quite positive that these green beans will be nothing short of amazing.
I am pleased to say that after my preserving efforts, I have 4 pints of pickled green beans and 3 freezer bags full of green beans. Neither method took much time or effort, and now I have a stash of green beans to get me through the winter. Green beans are one of my favorite summer veggies, and I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I’ll have some to carry me through the winter.
If you’re interested in preserving some of your summer bounty, please see this fantastic website, which has over 85 different recipes for canning and preserving all sorts of different fruits and vegetables. .
Pickled Green Beans with Rosemary and Lemon
(Adapted from Urban Spork)
Note: While I normally like to write my own recipes, I am still learning all the tricks of canning and pickling and so I stuck close to the original recipe.
4 pint sized jars with lids, sterilized
2 pounds green beans
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped (or 8 small cloves)
8 small strips of lemon peel
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar (could use plain white vinegar as well)
3 Tablespoons pickling salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
Trim the ends of the green beans to fit inside the jars. Pack the green beans into the four jars and evenly divide garlic, lemon peels and rosemary among the jars.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot (canning or stock pot) of water to a boil.
In a medium pot, combine the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-4 minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Ladle the vinegar mixture into the jars, leaving a half inch of room at the top. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth, affix the lids and seals, and seal tightly. Process the jars in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Carefully remove with tongs and set aside to cool. Let sit in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks before opening.