Update on the garden – 1st planting of bush green beans

Today the first green bush bean planting went into one of the raised beds in the new hillside garden.  In April, we scavenged cement blocks from the barn wreck and made seven raised beds with soil from the old garden (more to be built as we fill them).  We used seed saved from 2009 and used just one raised bed to start, laying out four rows, 12 inches apart.  We hope to do successive plantings once a month through August.  Normally we would have planted the beans for the first time in April but with the spring snowstorms, everything is late this year.

Fresh green beans are a staple in our diet and we try to keep them growing through the fall.  The kids graze the garden and eat them right off the bush.  When they are plentiful, we put a bowl out on the counter to be eaten raw as an afternoon snack.  One of our favorite summer dishes is green bean salad.  The beans are steamed until bright green and just tender, marinated with a vinegrette while hot and then chilled for the meal. Talitha’s canned prima vera sauce always has some green beans diced into it.

We have been unsuccessful canning or freezing the beans finding the end products mushy and lacking flavor.  We found a preserving recipe for haricot vert or tender young green beans, blanched and frozen, before the seeds begun to form bumps, that we will try this year.  We’ll let you know how it comes out sometime next winter.

If we have a really bountiful crop that we can’t devour on our own, we make dilly beans.  You have to plant successive dill with the beans for this recipe from Eliot Coleman.

3/4 pounds fresh green beans

2 cups cider vinegar

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon pickling salt

10 springs fresh dill

2 cloves garlic chopped

1. Trim beans, steam 2 to 4 minutes until just tender-crisp.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Pack tightly into two sterilized one quart jars.

2. In a non-aluminum sauce pan, bring vinegar, water and salt to boil.  Pour over beans and divide dill and garlic between jars.

3.  Can according to manufacturers’ directions, seal.

4. Wait at least two weeks to open.

What are your favorite ways to use fresh green beans?

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