Tuesday, 20 March 2012

How to Store and Preserve Beans

** This is part of my vegan Soup to Nuts fava bean recipe series. For a list of different recipes, check out this post about fava beans! ** 

After going totally crazy over fava beans this season, I still had some left over which I had to do something with since we were all beaned out. Well here are some techniques that you could use to keep your beans for a rainy day.

1- Blanching

Blanching is a very common and easy vegetable preserving method. I talk about it in my how to properly freeze foods post. Traditionally this is use to fresh freeze your green veggies retaining their texture and bright green color. Basically you need to boil a pot of water with some salt, squeeze a lemon, then drop the beans in for about 3-4 mins. Remove immediately and immerse in ice cold water, you can add ice cubes to make this process faster. Sometimes I do not have ice on hand, so I immerse under running cold water. Bag in freezer bags, and pop them in the freezer.

Blanched beans will last a very long time before getting freezer burn. They store for at least 6 months if packing is sealed well.

2- Freezing [un-blanched] beans

For those lazy days when you do not want to blanch, you can simply wash your beans well and freeze in baggies. These un-blanched beans will not retain their color as well as blanched veggies, and they will only last about 3 months before losing some of their quality. However this is a good quick fix, and especially if you plan on using them in the near future.

3- Cook Bean Meals, then Freeze

You can also make extra batched of your favorite bean dish, and freeze it, using the proper freezing methods of course. I froze the bean stew and it kept very nicely.

Other methods which I haven't tried include:

4- Drying your own beans in the oven

This article has detailed steps. I didn't try this out though, freezing seemed easier and less time consuming. However many a harvester rave about home dried beans.

5- Vine Drying Beans

I saw this article on vine drying beans, by the National Center for Home Food Preserving, and it intrigued me so much, I want to grow my own beans now! Basically you keep them on the vine until they are all dried and withered, then pop them in the oven to kill any residual bacteria.

Choose your favorite method or try them all, but take advantage of fava bean season and stock up for the rest of the year!

Have you every tried preserving beans before?

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