I am not ready to let go of summer yet even though it has been a different summer this year. I would happily continue enjoying all the fresh berries and stonefruit for as long as possible. Not sure about your area but the stonefruit near us has been exceptional this summer. If I knew how to can I would be canning peaches most definitely. Early autumn a few years ago at the Farmer’s Market I discovered fresh shelling beans. Now come mid to late September I anxiously await for their arrival. This year I have noticed that the grocery stores are starting to offer them as well. Perfect opportunity to share how I prepare one of my favorite seasonal food ingredients.
What are shelling beans? They are the fresh version of the dried beans you grab off the market shelf. Since I have nothing but time on my hands this year I have been cooking dried beans even more than before. I have been venturing into new bean areas that I have never ventured before; what fun it has been. Back to shelling beans. I noticed them during a trip to the Farmer’s Market a couple of weeks ago and have been buying them all the time now. They are at their peak. Typically I can only find cranberry or cannellini beans but ever so often garbanzos also appear.
It doesn’t matter which type of shelling bean you have, how to prepare them is the same simple way. I am going to share two different versions; for the freezer and a basic cooked version for immediate use.
Freezing Fresh Shelling Beans:
- Unlike most produce you want the beans to be a little dry. I look for bright colored pods that may be a bit wrinkly and a little brown.
- Remove one of the ends, and then pop open the pod to remove the beans. Place in a colander and continue removing all the beans.
- Rinse the beans.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil.
- Add the beans and cook for three minutes, set the timer as soon as you put the beans into the water.
- Pour the blanched beans into a colander and immediately rinse with cold water then cover with ice. This stops the cooking process.
- Once the beans are cook remove from the cold ice water place the beans on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.
- Once the beans are thoroughly dried lay them on a sheet and place them into the freezer. Freeze until the beans are frozen. Then place the frozen beans into freezer-proof containers. I divide the beans into 2 cup containers for recipes I might use them in.
Cooking Fresh Shelling Beans for Recipes:
- After completing the first three steps above continue on.
- Add the beans to a large pot and completely cover with water. Add some aromatics. I usually use ones that will complement an assortment of recipes, such as crushed garlic, a couple of bay leaves, parsley, thyme sprigs, and some olive oil. Do not salt.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until tender. It will take less time then dried beans. Do not completely cook as you will finish cooking the beans when you use them in a recipe. Guideline for cooking times: if you will use the beans in other recipes with more cooking time added, only cook for 30 minutes. If you want to use in salads or to serve on their own, then cook until tender and creamy, about 40 minutes. Cooking times depend on their size.
- When tender, remove from the heat and let cool in their liquid. Then divide into containers adding some of the liquid.
- I place in the refrigerator and use the beans in recipes throughout the week.