Green beans are a dinner staple that is delicious & versatile. Try them blanched, pan-fried, steamed, boiled, in a casserole or even microwaved!
How to Select and Store Beans
Select green beans that are crisp, firm and even coloured. Avoid any that have soft spots, discolouration, or dried ends (if trimmed). Smaller, thinner green beans will be more tender, while thicker, bigger ones will be slightly more tough. Both taste good, but choose what will suit your recipe. For example, if you want to enjoy a tender-crisp texture raw or lightly blanched, chose smaller, thinner green beans. Thicker green beans will hold their shape and crunch well in recipes calling for longer cooking times.
Store unwashed green beans in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper (bottom drawer) of the fridge for up to a week. Green beans that have been trimmed and washed should be used within a couple days. They should also be kept in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
How to Prepare Green Beans
Prepare green beans by washing well and draining. Then trim the stems off the green beans. If you prefer, you can cut off the other (tapered) end of the bean as well but with modern varieties being more tender, that’s no longer necessary. Modern varieties of green beans also no longer need to be de-stringed, but heirloom varieties may require a paring knife to cut off the stem and pull off the string that runs along the middle of the beans.
Depending on the length of the beans, you may choose to cut them into smaller pieces. Cut according to preference and type of recipe. For stews, chili, or casserole, you can cut into smaller 1” pieces. For stir fries, green bean dishes, or as finger food, feel free to keep the beans whole.
Green beans don’t need to be cooked long and mustn’t be if you wish to retain their crunch and colour. Steam or boil for just 5 minutes. They can be roasted on their own for about 10-12 minutes on 400 degrees, turning once after 8 minutes.
How to Freeze: Green beans freeze very well! Prepare an ice bath to shock the blanched beans. First wash well; trim the beans of their stem and ends, then cut into smaller pieces. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the green beans for 2-3 minutes depending on size until they turn a beautiful bright green, and drain. Plunge beans into the ice bath to stop the cooking process and retain the lovely bright green colour. Drain well and spread onto a baking sheet. Flash freeze and transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag. Use within 9 months. View Better Homes and Garden’s step by step tutorial for how to freeze.
The types of beans we attribute to green beans are either pole beans or bush beans. They may also be called snap beans, or Italian snap beans. They’re virtually the same in flavour and texture, but to grow, pole bean plants grow very high and require a pole to stabilize them, while bush bean plants only grow about 2-3 feet high. Most varieties are green, but some might be yellow or purple.
French green beans are another option available in stores. These tend to be more slender than common green beans and very green or yellow. They’re typically priced higher than common green beans.
Heirloom varieties of green beans may be green, purple, yellow, or a beautiful combination of two colours. They may have the strings on the sides of the beans, which should be removed for more enjoyable consumption.
Cooking purple beans will turn them green because the anthocyathins are susceptible to heat and light. Enjoy purple beans raw to keep their colour, or cook them in a stir fry to have a green bean crunch! For more information about why purple beans turn green when cooked, visit Garden Betty’s excellent explanation!
- Green beans make great finger food! Add them to your favourite veggie platter to enjoy with dip.
- To quickly trim green beans, line up a handful at a time and cut all of the ends in one chop. Spin them around and cut the other ends. The Kitchn has a handy photo guide available.
- Now that green beans are available without the cumbersome stringy part, they’re much easier to eat and enjoy! You don’t need to trim off the tapered end, but the stem end is best removed before eating.
- Green beans taste wonderful steamed or pan-fried with a little butter, lemon zest, salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Try out your favourite dressings! This is one vinaigrette that we love!
- Add bite-sized green beans to the later end of cooking stews or soups, as they cook fairly quickly. For best results, add them near the last 10 minutes of cooking.
What goes well with pole or string beans
Produce: lemon, potatoes, red peppers, onion & green onion, shallot, garlic, mushrooms, fennel, tomatoes, carrots, and squash
Herbs & Spices: lemon zest, basil, salt, pepper, ginger, tarragon, mustard, dill, mint, chilli pepper, cilantro and parsley
Protein: beef, fish, chicken, pork, almonds, bacon, turkey, shrimp, pecans, peanuts, pumpkin seeds
Other: olive oil, butter, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, Parmesan, cream, and balsamic vinegar
Serve green beans on their own, simply blanched and tossed in butter, lemon zest, salt with a squeeze of lemon juice on top! This recipe with garlic, lemon and parsley from Mann’s looks easy and delicious!
Try green beans as a salad or a side dish. This recipe with quinoa and hints of peanut can be served warm or cold, as a side or main dish.
There’s nothing quite like minestrone soup, and green beans are a classic ingredient. Try this recipe from the Food Network!
Green Bean Nutrition
According to the Canadian Nutrient File, 100 g of fresh boiled and drained green beans contain a great number of your daily-recommended intake of nutrients: 10% of fibre (2.4 g), 1.89 g of protein, 7% of vitamin A, 7% of magnesium, 5% of iron, 4% calcium, and 4% of potassium.