What to do with a glut of runner beans

Even with careful successive sowing or planting, runner beans always seem to come in a glut during August and September.

I don't think of it as a glut, but a welcome harvest and  you can freeze them, or cook with them. Runner beans freeze well and cook easily from frozen. This means you can enjoy your own organic runner beans well into late autumn and winter. They also have an affinity cooked with tomatoes which coincidentally are also plentiful at this time solving two gluts in one go.

Using up a glut of runner beans - cook with them Runner beans with tomato sauce

This is based on a Greek recipe called Fasolakia, which is a sort of tomato bean stew, and much nicer than it sounds. The Greek version uses a bean similar to French beans, but it works equally well with runner beans.

 

Basic ingredients chopped runner beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic and dried oregano.

These are the basic Basic ingredients chopped runner beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic and dried oregano.

Ingredients combined pre cooking.

Ingredients combined pre cooking.

Finished dish Runner Bean and Tomato casserole

Finished dish Runner Bean and Tomato casserole

Ingredients for 4

Olive oil

Red onion

2/3 cloves of garlic depending on your taste

500 gms of prepared runner beans cut into small pieces

500 gms tomatoes - any type will do although I find the smaller cherry type produce the best flavour - halved or smaller depending on size.

500 mills good quality stock- Veg stock or a good chicken stock gives the dish a depth of flavour

Dried  oregano around 1-2 tablespoons  depending on taste.

Method

Gently saute the onions in olive oil until soft around 7-10 mins.

Add all the other ingredients including seasoning to taste

Simmer on the hob for around 25mins until the beans are tender and the tomatoes broken down soft consistency. Towards the end of the season if the beans are older longer cooking maybe required an extra 5-10 mins test for tenderness.

This goes well with simple grilled chicken thighs or salmon.

In addition this dish can be made into a more substantial vegetarian supper by adding potatoes at the early stage with the rest of the ingredients. Also adding tinned pulses such as lentils or butter beans about 5 mins before the end . 

This is a good way to use up both a glut of tomatoes and green beans all in one go and makes a tasty side dish or a light supper. 

How to Freeze Runner Beans.

Freezing runner beans is quick and easy.  The images below illustrate the necessary steps.

Check first that you have a good number of ice cubes in the freezer which will be needed to cool the beans quickly once cooked. Pick all the runner beans of suitable size, wash and clean them and prepare them by removing any strings and slicing into suitable sizes. Before you cook the beans fill a bowl full of cold fresh water.

Have a large pan of slightly salted water on a rolling boil, add the runner beans and just blanch (i.e. cook) for 2 mins. Drain the beans, add the ice cubes to the bowl of cold fresh water and add the beans. Stir them to distribute the temperature, and when fully cold remove from pan and dry thoroughly.

The beans are now ready for freezing. They can be cooked from frozen and having already been blanched, the beans will only require a further 2-3 mins to be fully cooked.

Selected runner beans

pickedrunner  beans

Runner beans selected for freezing they are best picked young before they can become tough or stringy

Prepared beans

Prepared runner beans

Beans are prepared washed, topped tails and sliced

Beans cooling in iced water

Beabs cooling in iced water

Cool beans quickly by placing in a bowl of iced water

Drying Beans

Drying beans for freezing

It is important to dry beans thoroughly before freezing so there is no excess water 

Home Grown frozen beans

Home grown frozen beans

Home grown frozen beans what a treat!