Tall, long ‘A’ frames or towering wigwams overflowing with runner beans are a quintessential sight on British allotment gardens. And I used to grow them religiously.
I love runner beans but when Hannah and I moved into our home and I took on our current allotment – I went French.
I’m the only one that really likes runner beans and when you grow such prolific cropping plants, there’s only so many one can manage.
We all enjoy French Beans and by growing these instead, I still get my essential allotment feature and we all share in the eating.
French beans are perhaps a more refined crop than runner beans. They are wonderful to eat and if you only have a small space they are ideal as a few plants will reward you handsomely.
My go-to variety has been the RHS AGM Cobra. It has fantastic flavour and produces masses of stringless pods up to 8” in length.
Then I read about Mamba.
Touted as an improvement on ‘Cobra’, this plant produces double the yield and still has great flavour. I couldn’t resist.
Mamba is a more compact climbing bean which means it takes up less space in the garden. It produces clusters of beans that make picking easier too.
The trouble is they reward you (and I mean really reward you!) for a long time.
Beans, French or Runners, are joyous. I can’t help but smile when I return to the plot a day or so after picking a sack full to be greeted with yet another bounty to harvest. Whichever variety you choose to grow in your garden, remember that less is more (or certainly more than enough!).
French beans freeze really well and at this point in the year you need to pick a handful for eating fresh and another handful for the freezer during every visit to your allotment or kitchen garden.
I’ve always blanched the beans for a minute or two before freezing. Apparently, it preserves the vibrant colour of the beans and stops a particular enzyme breaking down and having a detrimental effect on flavour.
Earlier this year, I read a few blogs and articles that suggested it made no difference. There’s no real evidence for this other than the personal views of these authors but I thought I’d try it myself.
I’m always keen to find time-saving opportunities and so I sliced our beans and popped them in bags and into the freezer. The outcome is now in the hands of the freezer gods.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your views on the blanching effect. How do you freeze your crop? Drop me a comment below.
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