My garden is ripe! In fact, I can’t keep up with it, which is a good thing that I am grateful for! I know in just a short time, a frost will bring all this luscious late summer nutrition to a screeching halt, and the source of all our delicious garden-fresh meals will be gone. So I am trying to lay up in store, right now, while the harvest is abundant!
I’ve talked before about drying my garden veggies: kale, chard, tomatoes, summer squash, basil, oregano, and more. Right now, I am laying up green beans as fast and furiously as I can pick them, dry them and get them into containers. They are so easy to dry and taste so fresh!
Just snip off the ends of the beans, rinse off, and lay on dryer trays. You don’t need to line them up perfectly, just dump them on and smooth into a layer. Even if they overlap, they shrink so incredibly much in the food dryer, it won’t matter. They will end up looking like “green strings”. . . which probably accounts for the slip I made in labeling them! Either that or my brain couldn’t decide whether to call them green beans or string beans. Anyway, I was talking to my daughter while I wrote out the label and it ended up saying: “Green Strings”. I left it. It will make us smile in the winter, when we are shaking them into soups, stews and casseroles.
Big, over-mature beans. These aren’t very tasty to eat fresh and usually get relegated to the compost pile, but stop! You can dry those big, bumpy beans and buzz them in the blender to make a nutritious powder to thicken soups or stews, giving them added health and tastiness! I put these old guys all on the same dryer tray, as they are hard to distinguish once dried. Then they go right from that dryer tray into the blender to be powdered.
For normal-sized, tender beans—the kind you’d like to eat—just dry them until brittle and then snap the dried “green strings” into pieces with your fingers. It is easy: much easier than cutting them fresh before you dry them. Dried beans are amazingly compact to store, and their garden freshness enhances the taste any dish you add them to.
Running out of jars and big spice containers, I turned to recycling my empty metal cans with the plastic lids—that once held dried food storage. When I filled them up, I realized that I had made my own dried food storage, only brimming with organically grown goodness! And with only a little labor and electricity for my food dryer.
Winter is coming. We’ll be glad for the fresh tasting “green strings”, and other garden product we’ve dried. Drying is so much easier than canning, takes a fraction of the space on your pantry shelf, and can be stored long-term without electricity (freezer). Dried veggies are simple to reconstitute, or better yet, just add to your cooking pot. It feels great to me to have my jars full of dried foods from my garden!