Broad beans are very versatile. You can eat them as they are as a side dish or you can add them to stews, pasta sauces, risottos, and salads. Perhaps you grow broad beans and as the harvest season is short, you don’t know what to do with so many of them.
Maybe you buy them when they are in season and want to ensure that you have them for the next few months. If so, what can you do? The answer is simple. Freeze them. In this article, we will tell you how to freeze broad beans (see also our article on freezing runner beans) for the best results and also, how to defrost them.
Freezing Broad Beans
To freeze broad beans, just follow these steps.
1. Take the beans out of their pods
This is the most painstaking aspect of preparing broad beans to cook or to freeze. If you set your mind to it, you can pod a lot of beans in one go to freeze so that you can just take the beans out of the freezer when you need them. You then won’t have to worry about taking the beans out of their pods for the next few months.
2. Blanch the broad beans
You don’t have to blanch the beans but it has a lot of benefits so we do advise it. Firstly, the beans will keep for longer in the freezer. Secondly, it will be easier for you to get the beans out of their thick outer shell. Thirdly, blanching ensures that the beans keep their nutrients.
To blanch the beans, put a saucepan on the hob and bring to the boil. When the water has reached boiling point, put the broad beans in the pan for three minutes. When this time is up, plunge them straight into a bowl of ice cold water so that they stop cooking.
You can remove the beans from their outer shells now, but these shells help to protect the beans in the freezer so they are best left on and taken off when you have defrosted the beans.
3. Put the bags in a freezer bag
Put the beans in a freezer bag and put a label on the bag with the date frozen so that you know when it has reached its best-by date. Squeeze out as much air as possible out of the bag. If air is left in the bag, freezer burn can occur and although your beans will still be safe to eat, they will lose flavor and may also discolor.
Tips For Freezing Broad Beans
These are our tips for freezing broad beans.
1. Take the pods off before you freeze the beans
It may seem like hard work to do this especially if you have a lot of beans to pod, but think how wonderful it will be when you come to defrost your beans and don’t have to do this step. It also saves space in the freezer and this is important if you have a particularly small freezer.
2. Blanch your broad beans
You will want to retain flavor, nutrients, and color, and blanching will do this.
3. Squeeze the air out of the freezer bag
It is important to squeeze the air out of the freezer bag so that freezer burn doesn’t occur.
4. Shake the freezer bag
After 30 minutes in the freezer, shake the bag to stop the broad beans from clumping. You will want to be able to take out as many as you need to defrost, not the whole bag. Of course, you can flash freeze the beans before putting them in the freezer bag, This is, however, time consuming.
For How Long Can You Freeze Broad Beans?
As long as you have blanched your broad beans, they will keep in the freezer for between six and eight months. However, if you don’t blanch them, they will only last for between one and two months. As you can see, it makes sense to blanch your broad beans.
Defrosting Broad Beans
Because broad beans are small, you can defrost them on your kitchen counter as they will only take around half an hour to defrost. Food can start to develop bacteria after sitting at room temperature for two hours and above, but you won’t have this problem with broad beans.
However, we suggest that you defrost them in the fridge for a few hours as this will help them to retain the most nutrients. If you are in a hurry and have double-podded the beans, you can cook them straight from frozen. You will just have to increase the cooking time slightly.
Refreezing Broad Beans
Unlike meat, broad beans can be refrozen. If you want to do this, make sure that you first thaw them in the fridge. This is safer and helps the beans retain their original nutrients. However, if you do refreeze them and then defrost them again, they may then lose some nutrients as well as moisture and texture. In reality, it is better that you just take out as big a portion of broad beans that you think you will need for a meal or a couple of meals. They will keep in the fridge for a few days. Just put them in an airtight container.
Is it a Good Idea to Freeze Broad Beans?
The simple answer is yes. They freeze well as long as you follow our instructions. The broad bean season is short so if you freeze them, you will be able to enjoy them for months on end. You can remove the skins from the broad beans before you freeze them as then you won’t have any work to do when you come to defrost the beans. However, the outer layer does protect the beans in the freezer. Some people do eat the skins but they can be bitter.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you know all there is to know about freezing broad beans, but in case you are still curious, we have answered a couple of questions here.
Is there anything different I can make with frozen broad beans?
You could make a broad bean and mint risotto or even spicy broad bean fritters. You could even make a crushed broad bean pesto and add it to bruschetta or pasta. Another option is broad bean and cheese tart.
Do I really need to blanch my broad beans before blanching?
Your broad beans will still be safe to eat if you don’t blanch them, but they won’t retain all the nutrients, moisture, and texture.