Our green beans have been a big disappointment this year. It seems that some years are just not good gardening years, despite the best of intentions, hard work and knowledge. A friend came to our rescue and offered up some of her green beans that she did not think were good enough to sell at Farmer’s Market. She grew and picked them and I would clean, prep and can them and we would split them. We both find this is a winning arrangement. She doesn’t have to mess with canning and I get green beans in my pantry despite my crop failure. She did throw me a curve ball, when she asked me if I could do French cut….
I remembered seeing a green bean French cutter in some of my late Mother-in-laws canning supplies years ago, but I had no idea if it was still around. When I got home, I set out looking for it, but I never did find it, so I decided to research and see what options were out there and what kind of price range we were looking at. I found several options from a $5 item that allowed you to pull one bean at a time through, to a crank handle option that reminded me of the pencil sharpeners we used to have attached to the frame of the chalkboards in grade school. This crank style ranged from $15 to $30. But alas, there was nothing available locally that I was able to find. I did however, come across a post on The Clever Carrot that discussed using a food processor to get similar results to the French cut beans without the special cutter and time consuming step. Always being up for an experiment, and nothing to lose but a bit of time, I pulled out my food processor and gave it shot. Viola! French cut green beans in seconds!
Shannon had picked a little over 15 pounds of nice green beans, so Papa set about snapping the ends off the beans while I readied the food processor in the kitchen for slicing. The snapping time was cut in half from normal prep since all he had to do was snap the ends off the beans and did not have to snap each bean into small pieces. Next time, he can cut that time even more, by only snapping the stem end. The blossom end of the bean is very tender and need not be removed unless you just want to. I found when they were sliced there was not need for snapping off the blossom end at all. According to everything I read about French cut green beans, they are more tender and flavorful than the snapped ones. It also seems that if you let the beans go a bit long and they have gotten tough, this is a great way to salvage them!
My first task once the beans made it to the kitchen, was to rinse them in the sink and double check for any bad spots or bug bites. Any spots that were found were carefully sliced off with a small sharp knife. There weren’t many, but I did find a few. The beans were then allowed to drain in a colander to avoid excess water during slicing.
Now for the test….
I lay some beans in the hopper horizontally, stacking them like cord wood. I have a KitchenAid food processor that has a larger hopper, so most of the beans fit without snapping them in two. For the occasional longer bean, a quick snap so that it would fit sideways was the only additional preparation. My food processor also has an adjustable slicing blade. After some trial and error, the perfect setting seemed to be two clicks to the right, placed the pusher in the hopper, hit pulse…..
French sliced green beans! Remarkable!
I then canned them according to proper home canning processes. I put them in pint jars, added 1/2 tsp salt, filled them with water, wiped the rims, added lids and rings and pressure canned them at 10 pounds of pressure for 20 minutes. We now have 28 pints of beans to split. They are tender and great for casseroles! I may never snap another green bean….and then again, I’m sure we do some traditional quarts along the way for soups and stews….