The Kentucky Blue Wonder beans are in bloom and they look more like what I remember seeing in my grandparents’ garden during my childhood. I also remember that my grandfather couldn’t find enough ways to preserve the produce that springs forth from this horn of plenty – the climbing bean, so here are a few ways to deal with overflow crops if you are so blessed.
First, cook as many as you can palate fresh, they taste best. I don’t care how much you like green beans though, there comes a point when you would rather chew wrapping paper than see another stringy pod again, so here are the alternatives:
– blanch and freeze them. Trim the ends of the pods and submerge them for one minute in boiling water, then place them in a bowl of ice water. Remove them, seal them in frost proof plastic bags and place them in the freezer.
– can them. An old time favorite, because it doesn’t require refrigeration and lasts indefinitely. Place the pods in clean jars, fill to the brim with briny water or tomato juice, seal the jars and simmer them for forty minutes in a water bath to pasteurize them, then remove the jars from the bath and let them cool down very slowly, preferably covered so the heat doesn’t dissipate too quickly, over the next twelve hours. I always add lemon juice to the brine, the increased acidity lowers to chances of spoilage and the processing temperature required for preservation. It also keeps the color vibrant and the beans crisp.
– pickle them. Apparently they can be pickled in vinegar like cucumbers but I never tried.
Always remember to mark the date on the jars and discard anything that makes the lid pop, that means the vacuum seal is broken (if you push on the lid it shouldn’t yield at all).
If you still have too many beans you can let them ripen, they will turn to dry beans eventually but the plant will stop producing pods if you don’t remove them.
Isn’t this beautiful, though? Gardening is such joy!