Food preservation

How To Freeze Butter Beans: Keep Them Fresh for Months

Butter beans are also commonly known as lima beans. They are kidney-shaped and have a buttery taste. If you happen to grow these in your garden and have an oversupply, you can freeze them for longer storage. 

Here’s how you can freeze butter beans with complete step-by-step instructions.

Choose The Beans Carefully

It’s important to select butter beans that are as fresh as possible when you want to freeze them. Choose beans that are plump and firm with a bright and consistent color. 

Discard any beans that are discolored, blemished, or any that may exhibit signs of mold.

You also want to select beans that are roughly the same size, as this promotes even more freezing.

How To Prepare Butter Or Lima Beans For Freezing

After picking the beans, you’ll have to shell them. It’s a good idea to wash the beans first before shelling them. Shell the beans by popping open the pod and sliding out the beans with your fingers.

Once you’ve shelled all the beans, sort them into different groups depending on the size of the beans. You should have three different groups consisting of small, medium, and large butter beans. This sorting will help with the blanching times.

How To Blanch Butter Beans Before Freezing

It’s important to blanch the beans before freezing them because this helps to retain their color, texture, and flavor.

Using a large saucepan, fill this with water and place it on the stovetop to boil. When blanching butter or lima beans, do them in batches with no more than 1 pound of beans to 1 gallon of water.

It’s recommended that you put butter or lima beans into a steamer basket or strainer before blanching them. This makes it much easier to submerge the beans in the boiling water and take them out again.

Before placing the beans in the boiling water, make sure that you’ve also prepared a dish filled with iced water.

Blanch the beans according to the sizes that you’ve sorted them into in the previous step. Use the following timing guidelines:

  • Blanch small butter beans for 2 minutes
  • Blanch medium butter beans for 3 minutes
  • Large butter beans should be blanched for 4 minutes

Once the cooking time is up, take the beans out of the boiling water and immediately plunge them into the ice water. This step is very important because it halts the cooking process and ensures that the lima or butter beans are not overcooked.

When the beans have been fully chilled, drain them and leave them to dry. Alternatively, you can pat them dry with some paper towel or even use a salad spinner to remove the excess moisture.

Freezing Butter Beans

The best way to freeze butter beans is to open-freeze them first, as this stops them from clumping together. Here’s how to do that:

  • Line a large baking sheet or tray with parchment paper
  • Place the beans on the tray in a single layer
  • Put the tray in the freezer and leave until the beans are completely frozen. This usually takes around 2 hours.

Once the beans are completely frozen, take them out of the freezer and pack them into airtight containers or freezer bags. If using bags, label them before filling them, as this will be easier.

It’s a good idea, at this stage, to divide the lima or butter beans into meal-sized portions and pack them accordingly. This will make it easier to just take one bag or container out of the freezer in the knowledge that you’re going to use them all in the recipe that you’re cooking.

Place the bags of frozen butter beans back in the freezer. These should keep well for around 9 months.

Can You Vacuum Seal Butter Beans Before Freezing Them?

Vacuum-sealing butter or lima beans before freezing them is actually a good way to preserve their color and flavor and will allow you to store them for longer in the freezer. Here’s a detailed guide on how to vacuum seal the beans before freezing them.

Gather Your Materials

For this method, you will need:

  • A Foodsaver or similar vacuum sealing machine
  • Some food-safe vacuum sealer bags
  • A large saucepan filled with boiling water
  • A dish filled with iced water

Prepare Butter Or Lima Beans By Blanching Them

Shell butter or lima beans and sort them into different-sized groups.

Blanch the beans in the boiling water as per the instructions above.

Take the blanched butter beans out of the boiling water and put them immediately into the iced water.

Once the beans are cooled, drain them and leave them to dry. You can use a salad spinner to speed this up.

Pack the dried and blanched butter beans into the vacuum bags in meal-sized portions. Be sure to label the bags before you fill them.

Seal the bags using your Foodsaver or any other vacuum sealing machine that you may have.

Once vacuum-packed, pop the bags of butter beans into the freezer. These will keep well for up to 14 months.

If you freeze butter or lima beans this way, you can cook them in the bag using either a simmering pot of water on your stovetop or your microwave. However, before putting them in the microwave, make sure that you cut off a small corner of the bag so that it can vent.

Can You Freeze Butter Beans Without Blanching Them?

It’s actually recommended that you don’t freeze butter or lima beans without blanching them first. The reason for this is that butter beans actually have high water content, and this prevents them from freezing well.

What Is The Best Way To Use Butter Beans After They’ve Been Frozen?

To use butter beans after they’ve been frozen, you have a number of choices. You can either defrost them overnight in the refrigerator and then use them as you would canned butter beans, or you can use them without defrosting them first.

If the beans are still frozen, you can pop them straight into a pot of boiling water in order to cook them to the desired consistency that you prefer. Alternatively, you can easily just pop them into a stew or soup that you have bubbling away on the stove.

Apart from being highly nutritious, butter or lima beans are also high in protein. This makes them ideal for people who are following a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to refreeze butter beans?

It is possible to refreeze any leftover butter beans after you’ve taken them from the freezer initially. However, bear in mind that the texture may change with a second freezing. Therefore, it’s better to freeze in meal-sized portions, to begin with.

Are Butter Beans Good For Freezing?

Yes, butter beans, like a variety of other vegetables, freeze extremely well. Plus, the process is relatively simple and is a great way to store any excesses that you’ve harvested from your garden.

Is It Possible To Freeze Canned Beans That Are Leftover From A Meal?

Yes, it is possible to freeze canned beans that have been leftover from a meal. Place them in an airtight container and keep them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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