How to Freeze Green Beans

We don’t really can food at our house. Except for tomato sauce, the summer bounty we gather is preserved in one of our freezers. Freezing keeps more of the food’s nutrition, and we like the taste of frozen food better than canned! Here’s how I freeze green beans. And stay tuned at the end for a freezer organization tip from a family of seven. 😉

1. Get your counters set up. To do this quickly and efficiently (which isn’t really necessary if you just have a quart or two to freeze. But if you have a gallon or more, it’s worth it to put thought into your setup.) you’ll need a stove setup and a sink setup.

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Here I have a bowl that held my raw, snapped beans (into 1-2 inch pieces), a metal (important) colander sitting in a mixing bowl, and a large pot of boiling water. But before you boil the water, set a colander full of beans inside the water to make sure it’ll fit and your water level is correct. You want the beans to be able to be just submerged but not so submerged that they float out of the colander and into the pot.

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For my sink setup I have freezer bags, a tub for the cooled beans, a sink with ice water in it, and a sink with cold water and another colander (this can be metal or plastic).

2. Once you have a rolling boil, submerge a colander full of beans.

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Put the lid back on and boil on high for 4 minutes. If you’re wondering why my colander is wired to the pot… it’s because it used to have a metal piece sticking out on that end that I could set on the pot’s rim. But it’s broken, so I improvised with wire. It works for now. 😉

3. After four minutes, take the colander out and set it in the mixing bowl you have nearby to catch hot water drips. Transfer the beans from the metal colander to the colander in the sink, and let it float in the cool water.

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4. Re-fill the metal colander with more beans, stick it in the boiling water, and set a timer for four minutes.

5. Transfer the colander of partially cooled beans to the ice water side of the sink.

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The reason for having two sinks going is because you need to cool the beans ASAP in order to preserve the good enzymes and bright green color. The first side of the sink will get lukewarm after a few batches, but it still cools the beans some. The second side is where they’ll spend most of their time, and since the hot edge is taken off the beans in the first sink, it stays pretty icy.

6. When the four minutes is almost up, dump the cooled beans into a tub.

7. Return to step 3, and repeat until all your beans are blanched and cool!

8. Stick the beans into labeled freezer bags – I like to use quart sized ones.

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Then pack them into your freezer, and enjoy fresh-frozen beans all winter long!

My mama is pretty good at buying food in bulk and freezing it. And for most of my life there were seven of us in the house, so we have 3 full-sized freezers! This is what one of them looks like inside.

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And how, you may be wondering, do you keep track of what all you have in their icy depths? Good question, my friend. Inside a kitchen cupboard we have a freezer inventory.

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When something goes in a freezer, we put one diagonal slash in an empty box for that item. And when something comes out of that freezer, we complete the “x” with another diagonal slash. One diagonal line means we have that item, and an “x” means it’s gone. It’s a nice system, as long as you remember to mark things off when you add to and take from the freezers! How do you keep track of all your frozen goods?

How to Get the Most Out of Direct Seeded Lettuce

About 6 weeks ago I planted lettuce in my cold frame by direct seeding. It grew wonderfully, and I kept thinning a little here and there.

It finally got way too crowded and I decided to take some serious action. Since I’ll be harvesting lettuce in heads instead of just picking leaves here and there, each plant needs a few inches of space on each side. Having the lettuce too close sure looks pretty, but it’s way too crowded for the heads to grow to be nice and big!

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I used a dandelion digger to help dig out/pull up the crowded plants and it worked well. This is how many romaine plants I got from the section in the previous picture!

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Now the lettuce in the cold frame has more room to grow!

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In my big garden I’d planted three hills of butternut squash earlier that day. Since the butternut won’t be up and spreading for a while, I figured I might as well use the empty space around the hills for this lettuce.

I learned from Jan that it’s a great idea to lay out the lettuce where you’re going to transplant them before sticking them in the ground. This saves time and makes the rows more even. The lettuce in this picture is actually green loose leaf from the other side of the cold frame, which I also thinned and then transplanted. I eyeballed the distance between them, but I think it was around 6 inches.

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My soil was loose enough that I didn’t need to dig holes – I just poked at the spot a little with the dandelion digger and used my fingers to press dirt around the roots.

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Can you believe how many plants I rescued from my cold frame?! It was super easy to just direct seed them into the (rather small) cold frame then transplant the thinnings instead of tossing the thinnings in the compost and direct seeding more into the garden. And it’s definitely the cheaper way to go! Doing it this way means I got to use almost every plant that germinated.

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Just a note: the plants will look a bit wilted for a day or two after transplanting. Keep them watered and they’ll pop back in no time!

Dandelion Greens with Toasted Garlic and Almonds

Dandelion | Taraxacum officinale | Best known as a weed although it holds medicinal properties and value as (free) (nutritious) food. All parts (leaves, root, stem, and flower) can be eaten. The leaves contain lots of vitamins A and K, phosphorus, calcium, fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and flavonoids.

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Wild Garlic | Allium vineale | These taste and smell more like onions than garlic. The whole plant can be eaten, and  it can be found all over North America growing as a weed.

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This dish looks pretty fancy and it smells absolutely wonderful. But it’s basically free if you forage for the greens and wild garlic and use leftover bacon grease*! Now that’s my kind of cooking.

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Dandelion Greens With Toasted Garlic and Almonds

Serves 2

  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens
  • 4-6 wild garlic bulbs (or green onions) including 1-2 inches of the green stem if you’d like
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 T. bacon grease (or olive oil)
  • Small handful of toasted, sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt

(You should check out that video – I made it) Start a medium pot of water boiling. Coarsely chop dandelion greens and add to boiling water. Stir occasionally until they turn bright green (30 seconds – 1 minute). Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again, and press with a towel to remove excess water. At this point your greens will look like they went through the washer and dryer – limp and shrunken. Never fear! They’ll look more appetizing once you get them in the skillet. But really, what does it matter if they taste amazing?

Heat your cooking fat in a medium skillet. Finely chop wild garlic and garlic. It’s not super garlicky, I promise. The wild garlic tastes more like onion than garlic. Cook in skillet until they begin to brown, stirring occasionally (30 seconds – 2 minutes). Add dandelion greens and stir for 30 seconds. Add almonds and salt and serve warm.

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*I only recommend saving and using bacon grease if your bacon is high quality. That is, if it doesn’t have antibiotics, steroids, or additives and preferably was pasture-raised. The reason for this is that pork fat is where toxins are stored, so if your pig was raised in a toxic environment you would be eating those toxins. If, however, your pig was raised correctly in a healthy environment… that bacon grease is a (amazing tasting, mind you) great source of animal fat for cooking and you don’t have to worry about toxins. So there is a real reason people shy away from bacon and the resulting fat – but it’s because of the quality of the bacon, not bacon in general. So get yourself some high quality bacon and enjoy it! (Good) Bacon is good for you!!

Homemade Chick Waterer

Being the thrifty person I am, I decided that spending $5-$20 on chick waterers for my broilers was quite unnecessary. And thanks to Pinterest, I found a way to make chick waterers with unused things we already had around the house!

Homemade Chick Waterer

Supplies:

  • A clean gallon or half-gallon jug with an air-tight lid (I used a 1 gallon vinegar jug)
  • An old frisbee or shallow round pan with a diameter about 3-4 inches bigger than that of the jug’s base

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1. Punch one small hole close to the base of the jug. You do not want two or more holes because when filling the waterer you will need to stick a finger over the hole to keep the water from overflowing while the lid isn’t closed. And unless you’re very handy with your fingers… I wouldn’t recommend trying to plug two holes, man a faucet, and hold the waterer all at once. Things get a little wet, trust me.

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2. Working quickly, use a glue gun to attach the bottom of the jug to the inside of the frisbee or pan. If you don’t have a glue gun I don’t see why other glue wouldn’t work, as long as it’s waterproof!

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That’s all there is to it! One interesting thing I found is that the water feeds nicely into the frisbee without overflowing when the lid is closed, but when it’s open (even when you’re filling the waterer) it will overflow if you don’t plug the hole in the bottom with your finger. Below are pictures comparing what happened when the lid was closed (first picture) and then when I opened it (second picture).

This size of waterer (circumference of the frisbee is 28 inches) will be good for 20-25 new chicks, but by the time they’re 8 weeks old they’ll (ideally) need at least three times the waterer space to ensure no chick has to go without water at any time.

A waterer like this would work for grown chickens as well, as long as you found a way to elevate it to the proper height (ideal height is at their back – they’ll have to reach up a bit but it greatly reduces spillage!).