The Green Bean Story
I remember when green beans were called string beans because they had a “string” that ran lengthwise down the seam of the pod. Over time, the string has been bred out, and today, they are referred to as “snap beans.” Wondering why you can snap them in half with a simple twist of your fingers? These beans are picked from the vine when they are still in an immature stage when the inner bean is just starting to form.
Green beans belong to the same family as shell beans, such as black and kidney beans. It is thought that this “common bean” originated in Peru and was spread throughout South and Central America by Indian tribes. When the Spanish explorers returned from their travels to the New World, they introduced the green bean to the European culinary world. Today, 60% of all commercially grown green beans are produced in the US (go food sustainability).
Picking, Prepping and Cooking
You always want to try and buy your green beans loose so you can sort through them for the best ones. They should have a vibrant green color without brown spots or bruises and a smooth feel. Make sure that they have a firm texture and “snap” when broken.
Once you get them home, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper bin for up to 7 days. Make sure you don’t wash them. Did you know that you can freeze fresh green beans, and they will retain their nutritional value for 3-6 months? Just steam the green beans for 2-3 minutes, remove from the heat, let cool thoroughly and place in freezer bags.
Green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to prep for use. Just wash them under running water and remove both ends either by snapping or cutting off. And cooking them is even easier. Steaming (2-inches of water for 3-5 minutes) has always been the preferred cooking method since they are best cooked for the shortest amount of time in the least amount of water. But if want to get adventurous, try roasting, grilling, pickling or even frying these green sticks of goodness.
Green beans may be low in calories and fat-free, but they pack a whole lot of beneficial nutrients in their tiny pods.
- They are a great source of dietary fiber, which helps keep everything moving through your digestive tract.
- Green beans contain a healthy dose of Vitamin A, a vitamin proven to help slow down cell aging and keep you looking young and vibrant. They are also full of Vitamin C, which everyone knows helps fight off those nasty infectious agents.
- If you are pregnant or planning on getting pregnant in the near future, you might want to increase your intake of green beans as they are a great source of folate, which protects against neural-tube defects.
- The minerals iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium help with body metabolism, and guess which vegetable provides a good source of these tiny gems.
You can add green beans to just about anything from casseroles to salads. And, there are very few people who don't love them. Although it's good anytime of the year, why not savor the last days of summer by taking a Real Bite out of Real Bite Summer Salad. It's so colorful and filling that you won't even miss the meat and kids will think they are eating a rainbow!