Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From the Garden: Haricots Verts and Fresh garlic

This time of year all I do is trim, blanch, freeze, trim, blanch, freeze.
Haricots Verts.
Hmm, that title make it sound as if I've got a recipe for green beans with fresh garlic. I don't. I do have a nice non-recipe for haricots verts, which are delicious, skinny green beans with a French name. I was just announcing that on Sunday, my garlic was more than ready to dig up and cure. It really should have been a few days sooner, but the intense heat wave kept me from the job, even though it was only about 50 plants to fork up. When it's around 100°F, the only thing I'm forking up is fruit salad.
I was a little excited since last years wasn't nearly as good!
Anyway, the garlic's been dug up; 50 or so nice fat heads of German Porcelain Garlic, from Jung's Seeds. I ordered them late in October last year and had to hustle to get them planted before the ground froze. It was worth all the trouble, they look fabulous. I have them spread out in my garage to dry, and will store them in my "cold cellar," which was actually a room-sized area dug into the ground next to our basement that once held a heating oil tank. Stays just below 55°F most of the time, so it's a great place to store stuff. Like garlic, root vegetables or crocks of pickles. You can certainly use garlic fresh, (and I will) but I like to age most of it as the flavor will mellow and be less biting.

The beans have been coming on for a solid couple of weeks now, but the high heat and lack of rainfall are slowing them down. Even if I water them enough to boost my water bill by $100, it still isn't enough to make up for no rain. I can't even imagine how expensive and difficult it must be for the farmers in our region to irrigate. I really like haricots verts with their  fresh, grassy bean taste, and they are just as easy to grow as regular green beans. This variety you see in the picture getting prepped is called Maxibel, a bush variety. The pole beans should be starting soon, too. Bean City.
Haricots Vert, or Green Beans with Orange Oil
 in my favorite Sophie Conran bowl .
The non-recipe:

Haricots Verts with Orange Oil

My favorite way to treat any kind of green bean, French or not, is to blanch in very highly salted water for about 3 minutes if they are going to be drained and frozen, or 4 minutes if they will be eaten soon. Use a big pot of water so the water doesn't stop boiling when you add the beans. You only need to remove the end that was attached to the plant, the blossom end is a pretty curlicue and fine to eat. Put more salt than you think you need in the water. If you are using a gallon and a half of water, use at least 4 Tablespoons of kosher salt in the water. Have a big bowl of ice water ready to shock or chill the beans as soon as you remove them from the boiling salt water.

If you are going to freeze them, pack them in freezer bags in portion sizes, label and date, and freeze.

If you are going to eat them, heat some orange flavored olive oil, or some olive oil with some orange zest added in a medium saucepan. Use enough to coat the amount of beans you plan to eat. Toss in the beans, stir well to coat with the oil, and saute over medium heat until they are reheated through and are as tender as you and your family like them. Taste for salt; they may need none since they were blanched in salt water. Serve and swoon.

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