Green beans are an extremely popular garden vegetable for growers across the U.S. Their popularity in this country dates back to long before European settlers arrived, as they were a favorite crop of Native Americans as well. But if you don’t have a garden, they’re a great choice at the market. You just have to know what to look for.
Because green beans go by so many names, you may not know which bean a recipe is calling for. The terms “green bean” and “string bean” both refer to the same bean. Green beans are also a type of “snap bean,” so you may see this term used. In the store, however, you’re most likely to see the beans labeled as “green beans.”
As with most vegetables, beans are a healthy choice. One-half cup of unseasoned green beans has 15 calories; is low in sodium; and provides fiber, vitamin A, and potassium.
Beans may be harvested at various times depending on how they are to be used. When the seeds are immature and the pods edible, they are used as snap beans. High-quality snap beans should be harvested when tender and well-shaped, before the developing seeds cause the pods to bulge. As the seeds mature, they may be used as green shell beans; or as dry shell beans, if seeds mature fully and pods are allowed to dry
Storage: Beans can be stored unwashed in plastic bags in the refrigerator crisper for three to five days. Wash just before preparation.
Preparation: Wash well and remove stems and strings. Cook by steaming in a small amount of water, until tender-crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. They can be cooked directly
in soups or stews. They also go well with seasonings, such as chives, dill, marjoram,
mint, oregano, thyme, lemon, mustard, or onion.
Home-canned beans are one of the most common sources of botulism poisoning. If you wish to put up jars of beans, you must follow canning instructions exactly, including the use of a pressure-canner to process the jars. If you do not have a pressure canner, plan to freeze the beans.
Freezing: Allow tw-thirds to 1 pound of fresh beans for 1 pint frozen. Wash thoroughly. Remove and discard ends and strings. Cut or break beans into 1- or 2-inch pieces.
Place beans in boiling water for 3 minutes. Plunge the heated beans into cold water.
When cooled, remove beans and drain well. Pack beans into freezer bags or containers.
Leave one-half-inch headspace. Seal and place in the freezer. Use within 12 months.
Source: Ohio Cooperative Extension and Kentucky Cooperative Extension
Green Bean Bundles
1 pound fresh green beans
2 yellow summer squash ( 1 – ½ inch diameter)
1 garlic clove, minced
¼ teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
4 teaspoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
Trim stem end from beans and arrange in eight bundles. Slice squash into ½ inch slices. Hollow squash slices to within ½ inch of edges. Place beans through squash rings (like a napkin ring).
Place bean bundles in steamer basket. Place in a saucepan over 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil. Cover and steam 8 – 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Meanwhile, in a small nonstick skillet, sauté garlic and tarragon in oil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Arrange bean bundles on a serving platter. Drizzle with garlic mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Sandra R. Cain is the Extension agent for Family and Consumer Sciences in Bladen County.