Hey look what I got for only 23 cents!
Now I know you’re thinking how hard up for fun does a person have to be to go to a thrift store and come home with: Home Freezing of fruits and vegetables (bulletin 10) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture circa 1957 and be pleased as punch about it?
I am. I did. And I was.
Back in 1957, everybody who was anybody was into freezing food.
It was practically a national pastime for heaven sakes! My parents didn’t own a home deep freezer, so they rented a space in the walk-in freezer at Blower’s Grocery Store. I think I was about six years old, and I remember my mother giving us a lecture each week as she stood outside the Blowers big freezer door.
“Now, I’m going in kids. I want you to wait out here for me. If I don’t come out soon, go tell Mr. Blower, in case I get locked in.”
“Can we come in too Mommy?” we always pleaded.
“Absolutely not! You’re small. You could freeze to death.”
Then my mother would assume her head-up, shoulders-back, pioneering-woman stance, open the door to Blowers walk-in freezer and march in like a brave soldier who didn’t hold out much hope of returning alive.
After a few seconds, she’d reappear with a several cuts of meat wrapped in white butcher paper and was always bitterly disappointed at what cuts of meat she managed to grab without getting frostbitten (or something unimaginably worse).
I think my parents might have bought the wrong side of beef –the one without the steaks – because I never heard her say, “Oh goody! Steaks.”
Anyway getting back to my fabulous 23 cent find. I know that life was more structured in the 50’s, but these GOVERNMENT ISSUED INSTRUCTIONS for freezing string beans make you want to get into a time machine and put a flaming bag of poo on Mamie Eisenhower’s front porch.
This is how the U.S. Department of Agriculture strongly suggested its female citizenry freeze string beans in 1957:
Ok, they are giving you some leeway here. 1- or 2-inch pieces. But . . . you must line them up EVENLY first. And then sliiiiide them all over with the knife to the others — making sure they are Even Steven at all times. AT ALL TIMES!!
You cook the beans and then you PLUNGE them into cold water to stop the cooking. Don’t ever ever ever just SET them in cold water, they will just keep cooking and cooking and cooking like they’ve been exposed to a radioactive isotope (which, in the 50’s, wasn’t as rare as you might imagine) and we know what happens when that happens. Radioactive 1- or 2-inch pieces of KILLER STRING BEANS!
This is important now so pay attention. Don’t even try this unless you have a GOVERNMENT ISSUED String Bean Bag Stand and a Green Bean Funnel. How else would you put them in the bags for freezing in a home freezer? Surely not with your bare hands? Frankly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is practically sick to its stomach that it would even have to mention this.
Ok, do you see this? You must have your string (not to be confused with string beans) precut into what looks like approximately 2- or 2 and 2/16th’s inches of string placed no more than ¾’s of an inch from the outside of your little finger.
Head space is also quite important. Because apparently in the 50’s string beans had heads for which one must alott space . . . and if those bags get brittle? Uh Oh. It’s not going to be pretty. President Eisenhower might have to send over Mamie to pay you a little visit.
And you don’t even want to know why they called her Mamie.
Until next time. . . I love you