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How To Store Fresh Or Cooked Green Beans | Complete Guide

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This article will explore a variety of ways to store green beans for short-term use and for long-term storage.

Green beans can be stored in a variety of ways. They will remain good when freshly picked for up to 1 week in a refrigerator or cooler. Cooked green beans will last approximately 4 days if kept refrigerated. But, green beans can be either frozen, pickled, dried, or canned for long-term storage, so that with a little effort on your part, you can have green beans on hand all year round.

Now, let’s go into greater detail!

What Is The Best Way To Store Green Beans For Short-Term Use?

Fresh Green Beans

While green beans will not stay fresh for more than 2 days after harvesting before they begin losing their freshness and becoming limp and no longer crisp, there are a few things you can do to extend their shelf life.

  • They will stay crisp and maintain their fresh appearance for up to 5 days if they can be stored in a cool dark area like a root cellar or a basement where the temperature ranges from 45 to 50℉.
  • If they are stored under ideal conditions in a refrigerator right away after harvesting, green beans will last for up to 1 week. Those ideal conditions include (1) leaving them unwashed, (2) leaving them unsnapped, (3) packing them loosely in an, like this one found on Amazon, and (4) storing them in an area of the refrigerator where they will not be either bruised nor contaminated by other foods such as meat that may also be stored in the refrigerator.
  • If you do not have access to a cool dark area where the temperature ranges from 45 to 50℉ and no room in the refrigerator, green beans can be placed in coolers on ice for several days until they can be either refrigerated or processed.

While some vegetables, especially root vegetables, can be stored fresh for extended periods of time, some for weeks or even months, the important thing to remember about green beans is that most vegetables and fruit age quickly after they are harvested and begin to lose their nutrients very quickly. And, while our busy schedules don’t always allow us the option of processing our harvest right away, make your best effort to plan your harvest at a time when you can process the beans quickly after picking so that they are either cooked, canned, or frozen within a short time after harvest to avoid losing that freshly-picked flavor and those healthy nutrients.

Chopping Green Beans in Anne James Kitchen
Chopping green beans from my garden

PRO TIP: Washing and snapping green beans greatly reduces their storage time, so these two steps should be done immediately prior to cooking or processing.

Cooked Green Beans

Cooked green beans should be refrigerated immediately after cooking and will remain good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. In the past, it was recommended that vegetables like green beans should be completely cooled before refrigerating. But, those recommendations have been amended to refrigerating immediately after they are cooked in order to extend their shelf life. Any green beans left after 4 days should be discarded.

Can Cooked Green Beans Be Frozen?

Cooked green beans can be frozen. However, green beans that have been cooked for only a short time so that they are still crisp-tender will taste much better after having been frozen than green beans that have been cooked for a long time. Green beans that have been overcooked have a tendency to be mushy if they have been frozen after cooking. 

What Is The Best Way To Store Green Beans For Long-Term Use?

Green Beans From Anne James Garden
Fresh chopped green beans from my garden

Frozen

Green beans that are to be frozen should be processed as soon after picking as possible to maintain the best quality, taste, and color. All vegetables, including green beans, must be blanched to preserve those good qualities. The blanching process destroys the enzymes that cause the vegetables to continue the aging process and provides you with vegetables that have the same quality that they had on the day they were processed. 

Here are the steps for blanching green beans:

  1. Wash the beans thoroughly and pick through them to remove any foreign matter including leaves or other parts of the plants.
  2. Trim the ends of the green beans by either snapping them off by hand or cutting them with a knife, and remove the strings from the seam that runs along the entire length of the beans.
  3. Either leave the beans whole or cut or snap the beans to whatever length you prefer and prepare them as you would for cooking. This will be determined by your personal preference.
  4. Bring a large pot ¾ full of water to a full rolling boil over high heat on the stovetop.
  5. Drop the prepared green beans into the boiling water and stir to separate.
  6. Once the beans come back to a full rolling boil, begin timing, and boil for 3 minutes.
  7. Once the beans have boiled for 3 minutes, immediately remove them from the boiling water by using a slotted spoon or other utensil and drop them into a pan or bowl of cool water.
  8. Change the cool water 2 to 3 times to cool down the beans as rapidly as possible.
  9. On the last bowl or container of cool water, add ice to the water to cool down the green beans completely.
  10. Place the green beans into freezer-safe bags, boxes, or other containers, cover the beans with some of the cool water, label the containers, and freeze immediately.

When freezing, you can use the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) National Center For Home Food Preservation website as a source for blanching times for various vegetables.

PRO TIP: When blanching vegetables, use the chart listed in the USDA website mentioned above for the correct length of time to boil the vegetables. Either boiling too long or under-cooking them will have unpleasant results. Underblanching will stimulate the action of the enzymes that the blanching process is meant to stop and will result in loss of texture, flavor, and color. Overblanching will result in a similar loss of texture, flavor, and color.

PRO TIP: When freezing multiple boxes or bags of vegetables, do not stack the unfrozen containers all together. They will freeze more quickly and more efficiently if you spread them out in the freezer and then stack and organize them once they are completely frozen.

Canned

In my opinion, home canning green beans is the best way to go as far as food preservation. Home canned green beans have a much better flavor than frozen and commercially canned beans. 

Like most vegetables, green beans are low acid foods and must be pressure canned for long-term storage. Here is the process for home canning green beans:

  1. Select beans that are young and tender.
  2. Wash the beans thoroughly and pick through them to remove any foreign matter such as leaves or other parts of the plants.
  3. Trim the ends of the green beans by snapping them off by hand or by cutting them with a knife and removing the strings that run along the seam which runs down the entire length of the bean.
  4. Either leave the beans whole or cut or snap the beans to the length of your choice and prepare them as you would for cooking. This will be determined by your personal preference.
  5. Prepare and sterilize the jars.
  6. Wash the lids and rings and have them ready to drop into boiling water while you are filling the jars.
  7. For cold pack: Pack the raw green beans into the sterilized canning jars, add ½ teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt for each quart jar. Fill jars with boiling water, leaving a 1-inch headspace.
  8. For hot pack: Put beans into a large pot of boiling water and boil for 5 minutes, drain, and pack hot green beans loosely into the sterilized jars, add ½ teaspoon of salt to each pint jar or 1 teaspoon of salt to each quart jar. Fill jars with boiling water, leaving a 1-inch headspace.
  9. Affix hot lids and rings.
  10. Have at least 2&½ to 3 inches of water in the pressure canner. More water is needed for longer processing times.
  11. Load the jars of green beans into the pressure canner in which the water has been preheated. For cold-packed beans, have the water in the pressure canner heated to 140℉; for hot-packed beans, heat the water to 180℉.
  12. Make sure the gasket is in good repair and is inserted properly in the pressure canner lid.
  13. Center the pot on the burner with the heat at its highest setting, close the lid, and allow the pressure to build. When steam starts escaping from the steam vent, set a timer for 10 minutes and allow steam to escape from the vent for the entire 10 minutes.
  14. Affix the petcock onto the steam vent at 10 lbs of pressure.
  15. When the petcock starts to rock or jiggle, reduce the heat slightly without reducing pressure and start timing, which is 20 minutes for green beans in pint jars, or 25 minutes for green beans in quart jars.
  16. If at any time during the pressure canning process, the pot loses pressure and the petcock stops rocking or jiggling, bring the heat back up and start the timing process over from the beginning. To safely can the vegetables, they must remain at the designated pressure for the designated amount of time without interruption.
  17. At the end of 20 (or 25) minutes, turn off the heat or remove the canner from the heat source and allow it to cool down naturally. Do not try to speed up the cool-down portion of the process.
  18. When the pressure is down, remove the petcock but leave the lid on for 10 minutes.
  19. Remove the lid after 10 minutes.
  20. Remove the jars to a prepared area and allow them to sit undisturbed for 24 hours. 
  21. After 24 hours, wash and dry the jars, check the seals, label, remove the rings, and store in a pantry or other cool, dry area. If the jars are to be gifted or otherwise transported, leave the rings on the jars until they are put into an area for storage to avoid the lids and seals from becoming damaged in transit.

Whether you are new to canning or you are an old-timer like me who has been canning for years, I recommend that you take a look at the guidelines for home canning on the USDA’s (United States Department of Agriculture) National Center For Home Food Preservation website. This is my go-to information on all things related to home canning. Before canning anything, I check to be sure I am using the right amount of pressure and the right amount of time for whatever I happen to be canning.

Anne James Pressure Cooker on a Table
My trusty pressure cooker

Dehydrated

Green beans can also be dehydrated for storage. When dehydrated, green beans can be eaten like chips or they can be rehydrated by using them in soups, stews, and casseroles.

To dehydrate green beans in the oven:

  1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting, approximately 125℉, and prop open the door with a wooden spoon or other utensil for better air circulation.
  2. Wash the green beans well and pat them dry.
  3. Remove the ends and the strings from the green beans, and either leave them whole or cut or snap them into the length you prefer.
  4. Spread the green beans on a baking sheet that has been lined with waxed or parchment paper.
  5. Bake until completely dried, which can take from 6 to 8 hours or even up to 10 to 12 hours, depending for the most part on the humidity on the day you are drying the green beans.

To dehydrate green beans in an air fryer:

  1. Wash the green beans well and pat them dry.
  2. Remove the ends and the strings from the green beans, and either leave them whole or cut or snap them into the length you prefer.
  3. Spread the green beans on air fryer racks.
  4. Dehydrate at 130℉ for 6 to 8 hours.

When the green beans have been completely dried, they can be stored in airtight containers as is, or they can be lightly sprinkled with salt and can even be drizzled with a little olive oil. This will be a matter of personal preference and will depend at least in part on how the green beans will be used.

Do Green Beans Have To Be Blanched Before Drying?

It isn’t absolutely necessary to blanch green beans before drying them, but the color will remain more vibrant if the beans have been blanched first. If you prefer to blanch the green beans before drying them, use the directions for blanching green beans for freezing which is discussed earlier in this article.

Pickling

Green Beans can also be pickled for long-term storage. There are many recipes available for pickling not only cucumbers, but pickling green beans, asparagus, and many other vegetables as well. And while most estimates as to how long pickles last when stored unopened under the best possible conditions to be 1 to 2 years, I have personally used pickles I made 4 or 5 years ago, and they were still as good as the day they were made. But, to last that long, the pickles must be made by using the approved canning methods and by being stored under the best possible conditions.

If I were going to make pickled green beans, I would use the recipe that can be found on the package of Mrs. Wages Pickling Lime. Those directions are easy to follow. Just substitute green beans for the cucumbers called for in the directions. 

For further information on making pickles, read my article on Pickling Vs. Canning or take a look at my video where I walk you through the entire process of making pickles by using Mrs. Wages’ recipe. 

Final Thoughts

The green bean is a vegetable that is very popular in most households. In fact, I would be willing to say that the green bean is either the most universally popular vegetable out there or at least one of the top two or three. Because of its mild flavor, affordable cost, and variety of ways they can be used, most of us like to keep extra green beans on hand at all times.

Since green beans is one of those vegetables that everyone likes, and since there is such a wide variety of ways to prepare them, whether you have a bumper crop of green beans in your garden or you have a chance to purchase a bushel from your local farmers market, there are many options for preserving them so that you have a good supply of delicious good-as-fresh green beans all year round that are loaded with nutrients, and you will not have to rely on commercially canned green beans from the supermarket.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma

For more, don’t miss Garden Vegetables Planting and Harvest Times (With Charts).

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