Preserving Beans By Freezing

 

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This year the green and wax been plants have done very well.  We have ate beans much more often then the children would prefer.  I have also given bags of beans to my parents.  However, there were still multiple gallon zip lock bags of beans in the refrigerator.  Since we had so many beans on hand I decided to freeze some of the beans.

The first step is to clean the beans and remove any damage sections.  I had a few beans that had some spots where bugs had helped themselves to my beans.  There were also a few beans that had touched the ground, and had sections that didn’t look nice.  This is also a good time to remove the ends of the beans were they had attached to the plants.

For me the second step is to cut the beans into smaller sections.  I make them as close to bite size as I can.  Since these beans were fresh, I was able to just snap them into pieces.  You could do this at the same time you remove the unwanted parts from the beans.  I don’t do it that way because I have a way of mixing the unwanted parts with the good beans.

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Breaking the beans into pieces
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Beans broken into sections

While you are breaking up the beans you can start some water boiling.  You will probably need a big pot if you have a large number of beans.  Put enough water in the pot to cover the beans you are going to put in it.

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Boil the beans for about 3 minutes.  This process is called blanching.  I don’t fully understand the science behind this process, but somehow it helps the beans preserve better.  It helps preserve the color and texture of the beans during the freezing process.

After 3 minutes, remove the beans from the boiling water and quickly but them into ice water.  This stops the cooking process, so the beans don’t get over cooked.  You still want them to be mostly crispy when they are frozen.  This will give them a better texture when cooked later in the year.

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After the beans have cooled, they need to dry.  I usually just leave them in a strainer for awhile.  They can also be laid out on a cookie sheet.  They don’t have to be totally dry, but you don’t want to put them in the freezer soaked.  If there is a lot of extra water, then you will end up with ice.  To much ice can cause freezer burn over time.

I separate the beans into bags based on how many we will use for a meal.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal the bag, and place into the freezer.

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Beans are an easy vegetable to preserve, and the process doesn’t take much time.  At the end it is satisfying for me to be able to save some of what I grow for later.  That is less vegetables we will need to buy later  the year.

-Joshua

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Sugar Free Root Beer Ice

For July 4th I made Root Beer Ice and Vanilla Ice Cream for the family gathering.  My mom can’t eat sugar, so I wanted to make a sugar free root beer ice to go with the sugar free vanilla ice cream I made for her.  The root beer natural extract that I bought from The Spice House doesn’t contain added sugar which allowed me to make the sugar free version of the root beer ice.

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I used a Stevia blend in place of sugar in the recipe.

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Bring your choice of sugar substitute, water and lemon juice to a boil.  Stir constantly while the sugar substitute dissolves into the water.  Remove the pot from the heat and add in the root beer extract.

The natural extract I have doesn’t have any coloring in it. My attempt at making regular root beer ice with the natural flavor tasted really good, however, I made a mistake when adding food coloring to turn it brown.  I ended up with pink root beer ice.  The color wasn’t horrible, but it did look odd.  Since the sugar free version was the second attempt, I think I got the coloring better.  Just add about equal amounts of red, blue and yellow food color until you get the brown that you desire.

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Then allow the root beer mixture to chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  Once chilled, mix in an ice cream maker according to the manufacture instructions.

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I slightly over mixed my since it was a really small batch ( I had halved the recipe).  That caused it to look a bit icy when I scooped it out.  The flavor though, was really good especially for a sugar free recipe.

Sugar Free Root Beer Ice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar substitute
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon natural root beer extract
  • Red, Blue, and Yellow food coloring

Directions

Mix sugar, water and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in root beer concentrate.

Add equal amounts red, blue and yellow food coloring to make as brown as desired

Refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled.

 

Pour into an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

-Joshua

Experimenting With Root Beer Ice: Natural Flavor Extract 

For the 4th of July I made root beer ice and vanilla ice cream for our family get together. I made it first using McCormick’s root beer concentrate. I wasn’t happy with the really dark brown color (the first ingredient is caramel color), though the taste was OK.  I decided to try another batch using an extract made with natural flavors.

I found a reasonably priced extract with good ratings at The Spice House.


I like this extract much better then the first one I used. When I used it, the extract just seemed more like root beer.  It made my kitchen smell strongly of root beer, and the scent spread through the house. My five year old son, came into the kitchen to tell me it smelt like root beer in the house.

I think the flavor of this version was better then that of the one using the McCormicks.  Both taste sufficiently of root beer, but this one seemed to be less chemical tasting to me, which makes sense since it is supposed to be made of natural flavors.

The only issue I had was a minor one.  This extract is clear because there are no added colors.  I used gel food coloring to attempt to make my root beer ice a pleasing brown color.  I had read that an equal amount of red, blue, and yellow food color should be used to get brown.  Unfortunately, I must have done something wrong because my ice didn’t end up brown.  When I was mixing it up, I thought it was light brown.  However, when I took the ice out of the ice cream mixer it was more of a pinkish color.  That was more of cosmetic issue then a real problem.

The pictures actually look a bit brown, but in real life it is more pink.  I definitely didn’t add enough color, and I probably got to much red in the mix.

Using the natural flavor made for a superior root beer ice.  I highly recommend using whatever natural extract you can get your hands on if you make this.  If you can’t get natural extract, then using something bought in a regular store makes for a perfectly good root beer ice.

-Joshua

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Wednesday In The Garden: 07/05/2017

It is hard to believe that 2017 is now over halfway gone. We are now entering the hot season. It isn’t as bad as some places, but most days will be in the mid 80s to upper 90s for the next few months. This is still a great time of year because many of veggies are ripening. 

I don’t have a ton of pictures today since I was busy making ice cream yesterday. 

My first pictures are of passion fruit flowers. The passion fruit vines were one of the great surprises when we moved in. We had no idea what the fruit was at first. Thankfully, Google makes it easy to find things like that out. 

The vines originated in one of our neighbors yards, but we were able to reap the benefits of their plants. Sadly, the other neighbor next to them built a huge ugly retaining wall which killed the passion fruit vines.  

Over the last year or so, the passion fruit neighbor has been bring back the plants. He started from seeds, and put about 10 plants along the fence line. Those plants are growing well this year and have started to flower. Hopefully those flowers turn into passion fruit this year. 


I also have some pictures of our pumpkins which have started to ripen. One of them is inside the pallet I used as a trellis. I just hope I can get it out without causing damage. 


I hope you all have a good week in your gardens. 

-Joshua

Vanilla Ice Cream: Sugar Free

I have been working on vanilla ice cream and root beer ice frozen floats for our family 4th of July party.   My mom can’t eat much sugar, so I wanted to make sugar free ice cream for her.

I used the same recipe as my vanilla ice cream. I replaced the sugar with a Stevia blend.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good this sugar free vanilla ice cream tastes. I do not generally like the taste of sugar substitutes. However, this almost tastes just about like the real thing to me.

If you are cutting back on sugar for some reason, but still want homemade ice cream this is a great recipe. Is is incredibly simple, but still tastes good.

I halved the recipe because I don’t expect many people to want the sugar free version.  I still had no issues with it mixing and turning into ice cream.

Sugar Free Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar substitute
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Prepare the ice cream mixture
In a bowl, stir together the cream and milk. Add the sugar substitute and whisk until the sugar substitute is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Test for graininess by tasting a small amount of the liquid; it should feel smooth on the tongue and there should be no sugar substitute visible on the bottom of the bowl when it is stirred or spooned out. Continue whisking, if necessary, to ensure that the texture of the finished ice cream will be smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
Chill the ice cream mixture
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and on top of the bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Churn the ice cream
Prepare an ice cream maker with at least a 1-quart capacity according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the plastic wrap from the cream mixture and bowl. Pour the well-chilled cream mixture into the mixing container of the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The timing will depend on the type of machine and the temperature of the cream mixture.

 

-Joshua

Vanilla Ice Cream

For the 4th of July, I wanted to make vanilla custard and root beer ice sundaes based on Rita’s Frozen Yogurt Gelatis. Rita’s Gelati is a frozen yogurt and Italian ice.  They have a variety of flavors that changes every day. I have already been experimenting with the root beer ice part of the sundae.

All of the ice cream that I have made in the past has actually been frozen custard.  Custard uses egg yokes and is quite creamy.  Lynn told me that we have way to many egg yokes already.  She has quite a number in the freezer, so she asked me to make ice cream instead.  Since I was going to make a different style of ice cream I had to look up a recipe, my typical trusty recipe wouldn’t work this time.

I ended up learning a little bit about ice cream in this recipe search.  Apparently, the style I was making before is French-style ice cream.  I found a new recipe for something called Philadelphia style ice cream.  It uses less ingredients, and requires less work.  The custard requires cooking, and if done incorrectly can have egg chunks in the custard.  The Philadelphia style doesn’t need cooking, all it requires is mixing.

This is a very easy recipe to make.  I am going to use this one through out the summer and add different flavors to it.  There was so much less mess and work compared to the custard I usually make.

Recipe is courtesy of Williams Sonoma. 

I think the recipe included unnecessary steps, so I omitted those.  For instance it says to chill the ice cream mixture in a bowl of ice.  I didn’t do this because it is a cold mixture that is being put into the refrigerator.  Why waste the time and the ice?  The ice cream turned out well without doing that part.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

 

Directions:

Prepare the ice cream mixture
In a bowl, stir together the cream and milk. Add the sugar and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. Test for graininess by tasting a small amount of the liquid; it should feel smooth on the tongue and there should be no sugar visible on the bottom of the bowl when it is stirred or spooned out. Continue whisking, if necessary, to ensure that the texture of the finished ice cream will be smooth. Stir in the vanilla.
Chill the ice cream mixture
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface and on top of the bowl. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Churn the ice cream
Prepare an ice cream maker with at least a 1-quart capacity according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove the plastic wrap from the cream mixture and bowl. Pour the well-chilled cream mixture into the mixing container of the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The timing will depend on the type of machine and the temperature of the cream mixture.

 

This is a really good vanilla ice cream.  It isn’t near so heavy as the custard, so it is much less filling.  I think it is better for hot summer days when you don’t want to be over full.

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I made another batch of the root beer ice to try with the ice cream.  I don’t want to bring something to a party that I have never tried myself.

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This is a really good combination, and I highly recommend it.  I know I made it, but it is really good. Today, I am going to make the root beer ice with the natural root beer extract we bought. I will probably make a post about it since it is a little different.

-Joshua

Experimenting With Root Beer Ice

Lately, I have been on a sorbet kick. I made lemon, sugar free lemon, watermelon and Valencia Orange Sorbet.

About a week ago Lynn and I went to Ritas, an Italian ice and custard shop. Ritas is a chain that came to our area about 1.5 years ago. Their custard and Italian ice are very good and I highly recommend it.

Will I was eating my Ritas, I realized that the sorbet I make is real close in texture to the Ritas Italian ice. That caused me to want to make my own Italian ice.

One of the Ritas menu items is a Gelati, that is frozen custard with Italian ice layered together. One of the better combinations is Root Beer Italian ice and vanilla custard. Since I already know how to make vanilla custard, I decided to attempt root beer ice to potentially go with home made vanilla custard.

I found it harder to track down an Italian ice recipe then I expected. There are many companies selling Italian ice kits, but not many recipes. The first recipe in a google search was from McCormick. I usually stay away from companies recipes, but used this one this time.

I quickly whipped together the ice. Like the sorbet, this is really simple to make. The only thing I did wrong is we ate it to early. I should have allowed it to be in the freezer longer. That is why my pictures look like brown piles of something rather then nice scoops of Italian ice.


I think this is a recipe that I will stick with. We happened to have McCormick root beer concentrate at the house. I am not sure I like the flavor of it. It seemed a bit chemically and fake. We order some natural concentrate and I will be using that to make my next batch. I am going to be making root beer ice and vanilla ice cream for July 4th, so I am sure you will be able to read more about this experiment in the next few days.

Root Beer Ice

Recipe from McCormick

Ingredients

Directions

  • Mix sugar, water and lemon juice in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 10 minutes. Stir in root beer concentrate.

  • Refrigerate 2 hours or until chilled.

  • Pour into an ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.

 

-Joshua