garden guilt wins out over house guilt and a how-to for freezing beans

This weekend garden guilt won over house guilt. My house was a wreck, but so was the garden and it required a bit of attention. I’d take pictures of my garden, but it’s not pretty. We don’t weed very often. We leave the rows far enough apart to run the roto-tiller down them occasionally, but we don’t do that at all towards the end. The weeds are currently taller than the plants, but still the plants keep producing. The guilt is about the amount of produce. I grew it, I need to do something with it. Wasting any of it seems wrong. However, preserving it all in one way or another would be a full-time job, if I were to do it all.

I have dreams about tomatoes now. We’ve been making tomato sauce for weeks. We’ve given away at least 60 lbs of them, and still they keep coming. Last week, and again this weekend I just froze some of them whole in desperation. I’ll deal with those ones later. Yesterday I found the first evidence of tomato worms in the garden and my first thought was that they were welcome to the rest of the tomatoes. Then I searched them out, picked them off and stomped on them. And if you have any idea how much I hate worms, you know that wasn’t the highlight of my weekend.

I made two more pans of roasted tomatoes and vegetables and turned it into pizza sauce for the freezer. I washed a sinkful of cherry and grape tomatoes and froze them whole to add in to dishes that would normally use whole canned tomatoes (when you take them out of the freezer, if you want them skinned, just run them under cool water and the skin slides right off). I also cleaned up the rest of the onions, gave some away and stored the rest.

The dad and the kids picked about 20 lbs of green and yellow wax beans and we managed to get the yellow beans blanched and put away in the freezer, but the green beans will have to be ok in the fridge until tonight, when I will attack them while the tall kid is at hockey practise (the dad got talked into coaching again this year).

How to Freeze Beans

You’ll need:

  • fresh beans – any quantity (the rule of thumb is one handful per serving)
  • large pot of boiling water (I use a large pot with a pasta cooking insert, it makes removing the peas easy)
  • large bowl or sink full of cold water and ice
  • freezer bags


Pick your beans. You need beans that are fresh and crisp.  Select filled but tender, firm, crisp beans. Remove and discard any that are soft, spotted, rusty, leathery or wrinkled (too old).  If there is a delay between picking and freezing, put them in the refrigerator or (like we did) put them in a large bowl of cold water.

Trim the ends off of the beans.

Boil your water and set up your ice water bath. Get the pot of boiling water ready (about 2/3 filled) and a large bowl with ice and cold water.

Blanch the beans. Vegetables contain enzymes that can break down the destroy nutrients and change the colour, flavour, and texture of food during frozen storage. Blanching time for beans is 3 minutes – the duration is just long enough to stop the action of the enzymes and kill bacteria. Begin counting the blanching time as soon as you place them in the boiling water. You can use the same blanching water each time – you may have to refill some water occasionally between batches to keep the water level the same.

Cool the beans. Pull the beans (mine were in the pasta strainer) out of pot immediately after the blanching time is up and plunge (the strainer) into the ice water bath – this stops them from overcooking. Keep in the water bath until completely cooled. Drain thoroughly (this shouldn’t take more than a minute).

Pop the beans into freezer bags in whatever quantity you want. I put 3 or 4 handfulls in each medium freezer bag – the perfect amount for two adults and two picky kids. I also stack them flat on cookie sheets to freeze – things freeze easier and faster in a single flat layer than as one large mass and they are easier to stack in the freezer this way. That’s it. Now just freeze them until you want them.

I did manage to get half of the house cleaned. The other half will have to wait until I hear the Queen is coming for a visit. Or my mom. She still scares me a little.

Linked to Growing Home, White Wolf Summit Farmgirl, Like a Mustard Seed, An Oregon Cottage, Frugally Sustainable, Mind, Body and Sole, A Delightful Home, GNOWFGLINS, Foy Update

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43 thoughts on “garden guilt wins out over house guilt and a how-to for freezing beans

  1. jmgoyder says:

    I love tomatoes so I’ll see you soon – hehe!

  2. Roar Sweetly says:

    Tomatoes are so robust aren’t they? We planted some tomato plants years ago in our backyard and every year they keep popping up and fruiting…without any TLC.

    • I know – they are hardier than you would think. This year we had two entire rows pop up after our peas died off. They had seeded themselves at the end of last year in the spots where we planted peas this year – it was funny to see self seeded romas growing in perfectly straight rows. Well, sorta funny. I still have to do something with all of them. We have 6 ten-foot rows of tomatoes. Need any?

  3. Excellent blog. Thank you for the detailed instructions. My plan for today is to rip my tomato plants out of the ground and be done with them. I suppose I am early but I have had enough.

  4. Cat says:

    I always thought you didn’t start counting 3 minutes until it came to a boil after the vegetables were put in.

    • I keep it in only 3 minutes – or they get too mushy on reheating. My husband says the rule he grew up with is put them in the water and leave them in until they come to a boil again, then remove them. We timed it and that worked out to 3 minutes, anyway.

  5. At the rate your freezer is filling up you may never need to buy another food item from the store for the next year or two. I knew you said you had planted lots of tomatoes, but I hadn’t realized how many till you mentioned the size of the row you planted. You must love tomatoes 🙂

  6. Your garden would be almost a full-time job in the summer and early fall…Diane

  7. Kathryn says:

    You have so much wonderful bounty from your garden! How big is your garden?

  8. Excellent choice – keep the food, postpone the house cleaning!

  9. just love this blog – you do things I only think about

  10. oceannah says:

    ACK…I’m so with you here Heidi…the amount of beans and tomatoes right now far exceeds my time to deal w/ them. I love your roasted sauce though so perhaps more of that on our menu. Bounty or bust it seems!

  11. I have about 100 pounds of tomatoes in the freezer. I was scared the garden wouldn’t produce enough romas for me to make vats of pasta sauce to can as well as ketchup, so I went to the farm and purchased a bushel full. And my plants are STILL giving me a gallon sized baggie full about every day. Eek. I had to freeze them until I had a free weekend to devote to sauce making. I even ended up making tomato jam out of 10lbs of tomatoes because they were ripening so quickly I just had to do something with them. That, and my freezers are pretty packed to capacity with those 100lbs of tomatoes and every other food item we have! I’m thinking sauce will be on the agenda this weekend. I need room for those extra ripening tomatoes, as well as room for stuffed hot peppers!

  12. Sarah says:

    Thank you for this how-to on the beans Heidi. I just bought a bunch of these at the Farmer’s Market….and by bunch, I mean way too many 😉 This helps!

    worms….ewwwwwwww You poor girl, I feel your pain. But look at that beautiful sauce! Oh my, it looks fantastic!

  13. Heidi, I just nominated you for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award.

  14. Hello Heidi,
    My garden guilt got the best of me today. It sounds like you’ve been very busy. Thanks for the tip for freezing tomatoes.I may need to try it soon too. I hope to follow your instructions for freezing beans sometime too. Thank you for sharing a little about what’s been going on at your place.

    Heidi G.

  15. Garden guilt gets me all the time (well, nearly!).

  16. Somer says:

    Your tomatoes are reminding me of that horrible movie “The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers”!

    What I wouldn’t give to come get some and spend some time canning in the kitchen with you 😉

  17. I know that feeling well, when you have so much produce to use and not enough time to do anything with it lol. In the winter I look forward to harvesting my crops in the summer and in the summer I look forward to a rest!…..I’m wishing my life away lol

  18. […] braided onions from the garden to store them longer term over the winter, froze a mountain of beans and cut up and froze more peppers. Our freezers are pretty much […]

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