I enjoy buying baskets of fresh green and yellow beans in summer. I blanch and freeze the beans according to my cookbook instructions and they seem wonderful. But once they're cooked, they get a white skin that sometimes comes off. How can I prevent this? —C.B., Simcoe, Ontario
The white skin on your beans could be caused by blanching them for too long, improper cooling and freezing or overcooking. Green and yellow beans should be blanched for no longer than 3 minutes. Immediately plunge the heated vegetables into cold water, 60° or below. Change the water frequently to maintain a cold temperature or use cold running water or ice water. It will take as long to cool the beans as to heat them. When they are cool, remove and drain thoroughly. Pack at once into freezer-proof bags or containers; seal, leaving 1/2-inch headspace, label and freeze at 0° or below. For best flavor and texture, do not thaw the beans before cooking. Because blanching and freezing softens tissues and changes the texture of vegetables, frozen vegetables need only be cooked one-third to one-half as long as fresh vegetables.