Green beans are another vegetable that I really enjoy. I eat them nearly every day in my evening meal and any leftovers are used in a salad the next day. They are great cooked or even raw – I often snack on them whilst I am preparing tea:) Here is some interesting information about beans and then a really great recipe at the end.
The term ‘green beans’ refers to the edible fruit of various cultivars of the common bean plant. They are sometimes called string beans, snap beans or wax beans.
There are many different types of green beans: over 130 varieties are known. Depending on the variety, green beans grow as either bush beans (where the plant remains short and bushy, producing beans among its thick leaves) or pole beans, which tend to grow tall, twisting their vines around any nearby supports.
Green beans are enjoyed for their mild, sweet flavour, and crisp texture.
Generally available year-round, green beans come into season during the summer.
You can find green beans fresh (usually sold in bulk or pre-packaged in the produce department), frozen, or canned. But as with most vegetables, fresh is best
Note: don’t confuse green beans, which are a vegetable, with dry beans, which are legumes.
Most commonly, green beans are in fact, a bright green colour. But you can also find yellow and even purple beans that fall into this general category.
Green beans are long and lean, about the width of a pencil, which taper to a short, wispy string at each end.
One cup of raw green beans has about 30 calories, 1.83g of protein 0.22g of fat, 6.97g of carbohydrates, 2.7g of fibre and 3.26g of sugar.
Green beans offer vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin K, as well as beta-carotene, folate, and potassium.
If possible, buy loose, fresh green beans – not pre-packaged. That way you can check for freshness and pick out the best-looking beans of the bunch. They should have a bright sheen and feel firm and crisp in your hands, not soft or limp.
You may also find frozen green beans in the freezer section of your supermarket; you can usually choose ‘cut’ or whole. Sometimes they are sold with a selection of other vegetables (e.g. carrots and peas).
If buying canned green beans, check the label for added ingredients. The salt content of canned green beans can be surprisingly high, so you may wish to seek out low-salt varieties.
If buying frozen, store in your freezer immediately; do not de-frost.
Canned green beans can be stored in your pantry until the can’s expiry date but personally, I think you are best to choose frozen or fresh – canned taste so much different to the real thing.
Fresh green beans will stay in the crisper of your refrigerator, in an open plastic bag, about three to five days. As usual, aim to eat them sooner rather than later: fresher beans will have a better taste, texture, and more concentrated nutrient value.
To prepare green beans, you may choose to trim off the small, pointed ends. The easiest, quickest way to do this is to line them up in a row, then slice off the ends with your chef’s knife. Repeat on both sides of the bean, until all beans are trimmed. If you like, you can cut beans in half or 1-2cm pieces or cook as is.
Popular cooking methods include steaming, boiling, or sautéing, even microwaving.
Avoid over-cooking the green beans: doing so can make them stringy and tough, and take away their delicate flavour. If boiling, 4 to 5 minutes is usually adequate for whole, fresh green beans.
To include green beans in a platter or a salad, first blanch the beans: bring a pot of water up to a boil, then add the beans to the boiling water and let them cook briefly – about 1 minute. Remove them and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice water. This will take the edge off of their rawness but preserve (or even intensify) their bright green colour and crisp texture.
Tip: Green beans play well with a wide variety of flavours. Try adding them to your favourite vegetable dish; for example, they are nice addition to a stir fry or a platter of roasted vegetables.
Here is a great recipe for you to download and try: