- Folks who are in the know about green beans (let's call them pod people) are just wild about this tasty vegetable, which is a good source of vitamins A and C. Less than a cup of green beans — about 15 pods in all — gives you 10 percent of your Daily Value of these essential antioxidants.
- Green beans' reserves of vitamins A and C, makes these pods one healthy food!
As with many of your favorite vegetables, green beans are a true American original. Bred in pre-Columbian Mexico and South America, these little veggies have been around since the time of the Aztecs. One clutch of beans that was found in a cave in the Andes turned out to be 7,000 years old!
Green beans come in 2 types: bush beans and pole beans. They are the immature form of the "common bean," or Phaseolus vulgaris, whose colorful varieties can be dried, bagged and sold as pinto, kidney and black beans. When they're still green, though, there is one main variety: green beans, also known as snap or string beans.
When are Green Beans in Season?
Fresh green beans peak between May and October, but you can usually buy them at any time of the year. They can also be found frozen or canned by Green Giant.
How to Choose Green Beans
Picking fresh green beans is a little bit of an art. Rather than grabbing a fistful and leaving it at that, it's best to hand-pick these beans one at a time. Look for pods that are bright green, firm and about as thick as a #2 pencil. Try to choose bean pods that are all about the same size. This ensures that your green beans will be evenly cooked.
How to Store Green Beans
Refrigerate your green beans in an open plastic bag, like the kind you gather them into in the produce section. Green beans spoil fairly fast, so try to eat them within four or five days.
How to Cook With Green Beans
Green beans can be boiled, steamed, microwaved or stir-fried, depending on your fancy. What a versatile legume! To prep them, wash thoroughly in cold tap water. Then simply cook them whole. You can also use a sharp paring knife to slice away the ends, and then snap each pod into smaller lengths.
Generally, any recipe with a significant amount of green beans (more than a garnish) will call for them in whole cups. One cup of snapped beans is about the same as 15 large pods.
Depending on the dish, there are a number of fresh veggies that can take the place of green beans. For fresh salads, try using snap or snow peas. In cooked casseroles and side dishes, asparagus or nopales (sliced prickly pear pads) will do nicely.
Basic Green Bean Recipes
For a simple side of green beans, boil them whole in an inch of water for 8 to 10 minutes. Quick Tip: Green beans keep cooking in the pod once they leave the pot, so immediately douse them with cold running water to prevent overcooking.
Green Beans in Recipes
Impress your guests with a little international fare: French-cut Green Beans with Tomatoes and Feta Cheese.
Or for south-of-the-boarder style, add green chilies to this Spicy Bean and Cucumber Salad.
Finally, it's the comfort food you know you want: a guilt-free New Green Bean Casserole topped with crisp, hot onion rings.