Preserving green and yellow beans

Green and yellow beans can be safely preserved by pressure canning, freezing, pickling or dehydrating.

Green and yellow snap beans are plentiful this time of year. Once you’ve eaten your fill, what can you do with them? There are several ways to preserve them for use later in the year, such as canning, freezing, pickling or dehydrating. Download the new (and free!) Michigan State University Extension fact sheet Using, Storing and Preserving Snap Bean.

Snap beans, whether they are green, yellow or purple must be processed in a pressure canner if you decide to can them. Snap beans are a “low acid” food. In other words, if canned without pressure canning, they do not have enough acid to prevent the potential hazard of the foodborne illness Botulism.

Freezing is a good choice for snap beans. Freezing does not require any special equipment (except a freezer). Beans should be blanched for best results. Blanching is the process of cooking the beans for a short period of time (three minutes in boiling water), then cooling quickly in cold or ice water for three minutes. The process inactivates the enzymes in the beans, which causes undesirable color and texture changes over time.

Green beans can be pickled. During the pickling process, acid (vinegar) is added to the beans in the correct proportions to ensure the safety of the finished product. Dilly beans are a popular type of pickled green beans. Check out the National Home Food Preservation Center for a dilly beans recipe.

Dehydrating is another method of preserving snap beans. Pretreating vegetables by blanching in boiling water is recommended to enhance the quality and safety of the dried vegetables. Blanching helps slow or stop the enzyme activity that can cause undesirable changes in flavor and texture during storage. Blanching also relaxes tissues so pieces dry faster, helps protect the products vitamins and color and reduces the time needed to refresh vegetables before cooking. In addition, research studies have shown that pretreating vegetables by blanching in water or citric acid solution enhances the destruction of potentially harmful bacteria during drying, including Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella species and Listeria monocytogenes.

Michigan State University Extension has information about using, storing and preserving fresh produce on the Michigan Fresh website. Check it out today for more suggestions about using fresh fruits and vegetables!

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