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Preserving beans for winter

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default Preserving beans for winter

Post by Chilli-head on 18th October 2015, 6:03 pm

I am quite fond of the Italian Borlotti style of beans, and last year grew the much recommended (including by Jamie Oliver) variety Lamon from Seeds of Italy.

The trouble I have is getting them to dry in time before they go mouldy, get frosted etc.  Taking them off the plant and shelling them before they reach the stage of rattling around in the pods often seems to lead to them picking up rusty brown staining whilst drying.  I wondered about uprooting the whole plant and hanging it upside down in the shed, but I'd need a bigger shed !

I decided to ask the advice of the gregarious and helpful Paolo at Seeds of Italy who rang me back and chatted at quite some length (great customer service !).  He asked why I wanted to dry them anyway, because drying was just the traditional approach used before the freezer, and that freezing them is reliable and gives good results.  I had hoped he might be able to suggest an earlier maturing variety (they stock several), but apparently there's not a lot to pick between them.

Now, after my conversation with Paolo I started to wonder whether it would affect the flavour if I froze them rather than drying.  You see, to me the beauty of the borlotti is in its ability to soak up the flavour of the sauces - the very special combination with belly pork is delectable.  Will wetter frozen beans soak up the fat as well ?  I feel a trial coming on - freeze some, dry some, cook and compare ...

But anyway, what do you do with beans of all sorts ?
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Post by freebird on 18th October 2015, 6:36 pm

I've never grown beans for drying - just runner beans and French beans. I have tried freezing those, but for me the most delicious aspect of a bean where you eat the pod is the texture. Freezing completely destroys that, and with it my enjoyment. So I never try to preserve now - just enjoy whilst in season.
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Post by Ploshkin on 18th October 2015, 9:18 pm

I have the same drying problems as you CH - the beans usually go mouldy. Like you, FB, I don't specially like frozen beans though I do a few if I have a big surplus. I do keep biggish chunks of over the top beans in the freezer as they are useful in veg curries.
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Post by Chilli-head on 19th October 2015, 12:38 pm

I am in total agreement with you FB about freezing green beans. As well as the texture, the taste seems to suffer too - I'm not sure I understand why ! If I have a surplus I tend to cook them into a Madhur Jaffery "Spicy Green Beans" recipe (with a tomato based sauce), then freeze them.
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