Green bean season is in full swing now until early October so most home gardeners are probably picking almost daily and most farmers markets will have them in abundance for the next few weeks.
Green beans are very versatile – you can steam, boil, grill, pan sear, braise and even pickle green beans and they will maintain their beautiful color and flavor. And while you can do just about anything with green beans, they are probably best served fresh – standing in the garden or eaten right out of the bag in the car trip home from the farmers market!
Green beans are very low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and a good source of fiber, Vitamins A and C and are rich in antioxidants. Research shows that green beans maintain high levels of the B vitamins even after cooking and they could potentially be a good source of the mineral silicon which promotes stronger bones. All this means green beans deserve a regular spot in any healthy eating plan!
But as everyone knows, too much of a good thing can be overwhelming. With the green bean harvest coming on strong, here is a simple thing to do to keep the green bean love going even after the snow starts flying and fresh green beans are behind us for another season.
Freeze them! You don’t need lots of time or complicated pressure canning equipment to “put up” a batch of green beans. Simply get a stock pot of water boiling (the one you make spaghetti in) and add a pinch of salt. While waiting for the water to boil, fill your kitchen sink half way with cold water. Once the water boils, put your batch of beans (stem ends only cut off) in the boiling water. Toss into the sink 4 cups of ice cubes. Let the beans blanch for 1-2 minutes, then scoop them out and get them into the ice water immediately to stop cooking. You will see the beautiful color brighten in the blanching process! Once cooled, dry the beans on paper towels and put in ziplock freezer bags, pressing out as much excess air as possible without squishing your beans.
Once the snow is piling up, pull out a bag of green beans and serve up on a cold dark winter’s night and you will be immediately transported back to summertime!
While you still have fresh green beans, try making a delicious Green Bean Hummus and serve with fresh beans and other veggies for dipping! Can you say “double yummy”?
Green Bean Hummus – Serves 4
4 cups green beans, trimmed and snapped in pieces
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 lemon, juiced
4-5 tablespoons of Tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 cloves of garlic, roasted slightly
1/3 cup of slivered almonds
Pinches of cayenne pepper, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Microwave the beans in a covered glass bowl with ¼ cup of water until just barely tender. This took 3-4 minutes in my microwave, don’t overcook them. Let cool for a few minutes then place in food processor along with all remaining ingredients.
Pulse until desired texture about 20 seconds. Add olive oil if too thick and additional slivered almonds if too thin.
Serve as dip with green beans, vegetables or crackers. Also use in place of butter or mayonnaise on sandwiches.