Although green beans often show up on the Thanksgiving table, they’re actually at their peak in the warmer months. That’s why you’ll want to get the best of the crop from May to October, then freeze the green beans for peak-summer flavor and texture any time of year. Also known as string beans or snap beans, these long, crisp legumes are among the healthiest vegetables to eat. They’re packed with essential vitamins and fiber and are super tasty in any of our green bean recipes. If you have a stash of fresh ones, they’ll only last a few days in the fridge before they start to languish — so it’s helpful to know exactly how to freeze green beans to preserve their freshness for future use.
This handy guide will explain how to freeze an excess of those fresh green beauts — maybe you stocked up during a sale at the grocery store or went a little crazy at the farmer’s market (or grew them yourself in your garden). No fear! Save them for later to star in a green bean casserole, healthy air fryer recipe or a fast and easy dinner idea.
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Can you freeze raw green beans?
You can … but you run the risk of getting a mushy, dull and flavorless mess. A better way? Blanching. Your green beans will come out bright and crisp on the other side of freezing. It’s just a quick boil then dunk in ice water to prevent overcooking. Science time: The ice bath stops enzyme actions that can cause a loss in flavor, color and texture. This basically guarantees that your green beans will preserve their freshness while frozen. As a bonus, this easy step cleans the green beans of dirt and helps retain vitamins and minerals, too.
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How do you choose green beans for freezing?
Start with the freshest green beans possible. While these lanky legumes are available year-round at supermarkets, they’re at their absolute best from May through October. Look for beans that are green (without any yellow or brown parts), free of blemishes and firm (not limp, shriveled or lumpy).
Fresh green beans are best eaten within three to five days when stored in the refrigerator while frozen ones can last up to eight months, according to FoodSafety.gov. So if you can’t finish your haul right away, freeze the green beans to savor later on in the year.
Should you trim green beans before freezing?
Yup. After gently rinsing the green beans in cold water, trim off the stem ends (the dull, woody parts). If you want, you can also trim off the tail ends but they’re tender enough to be edible so it would just be for aesthetics. If your green bean variety has a stringy fiber that runs throughout the bean pod, trim that off too.
How do you blanch green beans?
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. While you’re waiting, fill a large bowl with ice water. Once your pot is boiling, add a generous amount of salt (around a tablespoon) for a gallon of water.
Working in batches, add green beans to boiling water and cook until just tender, 2 to 4 minutes depending on the size of beans.
Using a wire skimmer (often called spider) or slotted spoon, transfer the green beans to the ice water (this will immediately stop the cooking and preserve that bright green color).
Let them soak for about 4 minutes, then using tongs, transfer the beans to a towel to drain and dry. Repeat with the remaining beans, adding more water to the pot to boil and more ice to the bowl as needed.
How do you properly freeze green beans?
Do a quick-freeze first: Arrange the blanched green beans in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until firm. This initial step ensures that the beans won’t all freeze together in a clump. Then you can pack the frozen beans into resealable bags, containers or jars. Make sure to compact the beans in, then press out as much air as possible and seal tightly — banish that freezer burn! You’ll thank yourself later if you label each bag or container with the contents, amount and date so that you’ll be able to easily find them and keep track of how fresh they are. Finally, you can now place them in the freezer for up to eight months.
Do you need to thaw frozen green beans before cooking?
Nah. Green beans are skinny enough that they’ll lose their frost pretty quickly when simmered or stewed or baked in a casserole. The only exception is if you’re doing a quick cook, such as a sauté or stir-fry, then you’ll want to thaw the beans. Otherwise, save yourself this step and get to cooking right away!
Susan (she/her) is the recipe editor at Good Housekeeping, where she pitches ideas, parses words, and produces food content. In the Test Kitchen, she cooks (and samples!) recipes, working with developers to deliver the best written versions possible. A graduate of Brown University and a collaborator on several cookbooks, her previous experience includes stints at Food & Wine, Food Network, three meal kit companies, a wine shop in Brooklyn, and Chez Panisse, the pioneering restaurant in Berkeley, California. She enjoys playing tennis, natural wines, and reality competition shows.
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Kate Merker (she/her) is the Chief Food Director of the Hearst Lifestyle Group, overseeing the team that produces food content for several Hearst titles, including Good Housekeeping, Women’s Health, Prevention, Woman’s Day and Country Living. She has clocked nearly 20 years of experience in food media and before that, worked at some of New York City’s finest restaurants.