Green beans, also known as snap beans because they “snap” when broken, are harvested when young, when the beans inside the pod are small and tender and the pods are thin. They are very low in calories (about 44 per cup) and loaded with nutrients such as vitamins K, A, and C, fiber, folate and anti-oxidants.
Bean types include the well known green beans, as well as wax beans which are generally milder in flavor than green beans and take less time to cook, Rattlesnake beans (green with purple streaks that turn bright green when cooked) and Dragon’s Tongue beans, a flat, Italian- type yellow bean with purple streaks that disappear when cooked. These latter two are gorgeous beans and rare to find at markets or in stores so enjoy them when Farmer John delivers them.
Interestingly, green beans were originally cultivated in Peru and were then spread throughout Central and South America by wandering Indian tribes. Spanish explorers brought them back from the “New World” to Europe in the 16th century, and from there they spread around the world.
To store beans, place unwashed, untrimmed beans in a plastic bag and place in the crisper drawer of the fridge. It will keep for about a week. Beans can be frozen with or without first blanching them for 2-3 minutes, but do wash them before freezing. Recipes often call for “trimming” the beans. To do this, slice off the narrow tips on each end of the pod.
Besides steaming, sautéing or stir-frying beans, try roasting them: sprinkle the beans with a bit of oil and roast on a flat baking pan in a 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and enjoy. Because the beans lose volume as they roast, it will take about 2 pounds of beans to feed 4 people.