What’s in Season: Green Beans

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By The Paula Deen Test Kitchen

Many Americans associate green beans with a Thanksgiving casserole or canned, mushy sides dishes.  But if you’re lucky, you have shed your childhood green bean animosity with your first bite into these crispy, juicy delights at their finest midsummer peak. Here, let us revisit this deliciously refreshing vegetable that’s healthy, durable, and easy to cook (and grow)!

A Little Background
Green beans (sometimes called string beans, snap beans, or haricots verts, their French name) are native to South America, with over 100 modern cultivated varieties including the esteemed domestic Blue Lake.  The edible part comes from the immature fruit of the bush plant Phaseolus vulgaris (common bean), which flowers and spreads to 2-3 feet high.  Pods are usually a deep, solid green color but can be yellowish, purple, or streaked.

Green beans boast quite a health badge, as they are packed with Vitamins A, C, and K, may help absorb calcium, have low natural sugar content, and contain lots of heart-healthy plant compounds.

They make a versatile ingredient, enjoyable when hot (tempura-battered, bacon-wrapped, casseroles, pastas), or room temperature and cold (salads, slaws, even crudite platters).  And, they’re low-maintenance: just wash, trim (even a child can be tasked with snapping off the ends), and cut if desired.

They stay fresh longer than many other more delicate greens and make great candidates for freezing and pickling.  (Here’s a basic pickling how-to, featuring a brine recipe from the test kitchen).

Buying, Storing, and Preparing
When shopping for green beans, look for firm, bright, smooth pods (wrinkles or lumps mean old and/or overripe).  Beans will be cheapest in their local, seasonal peak, though most supermarkets will carry them year-round. 

They should be refrigerated and keep for several days, or they can be frozen.  Some cooking guides will recommend blanching before freezing, but it is not necessary.

Blanching is a common step before tossing beans into a chilled potato salad, pilaf, or soup, or for serving as stand-alone side dish dressed with a simple vinaigrette, sautéed shallots, and toasted nuts.  As with other vegetables, blanching and shocking will give you flavorful, crisp, vibrant results, like in Honey Balsamic Green Beans.

Other typical green bean cooking methods include steaming (the healthiest option), deep-frying, and sautéing. 

For green beans skeptics, pair with pork, potatoes, rice, mushrooms, or cheese.

Check out our selection of test kitchen recipes:
Fresh Green Bean Tomato Salad
Summer Vegetable Salad
Green Beans with Almonds and Caramelized Onions
Fancy Green Beans
Green Beans with New Potatoes
New Potato and Green Bean Salad
Fried Green Bean Salad
Green Bean Bundles with Bacon Vinaigrette

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Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:

54321

Could you please elaborate on this statement a little more. 'They should be refrigerated and keep for several days, or they can be frozen. Some cooking guides will recommend blanching before freezing, but it is not necessary.' I have always been taught to blanch before freezing. How well do they last, texture, and flavor without blanching and what is the procedure beside washing and drying off the water. I have also known a friend of mine air dry them and store them in plastic storage bags for many months. An Pennsylvania Omish thing I think. Thank you.

By Debbie Holland on July 11, 2012

54321

i love green beans. more so since i learned how to cook them. i use to cook them to death. now this is my favorite dish. i cook them until just tender in micro wave. then drain and cook slightly in a little olive oil and balsamic vingegar. try it very good.

By sharron johnson on July 10, 2012

54321

hiiiiii mrs deen your and great cook,i love all of your dishes,but i have and question i leave in and homeless shelter right now and i have some great dishes!! here i cook for the other homeless women here and im trying to fine out i can i get up on my feet to become and great chef i can cook almost any dish it doesnt matter what it is i can cook it can you help me please, im homeless with no money no car and right now this will be and great chance for me can you help me? please?

By Delilah m gamble on July 10, 2012

54321

My mother was from Nashville, and her green beans were the best. They were broken into 1 1/2" pieces, cooked with pieces of bacon, salt and pepper, for approx.45 mn. to 1 hour. They were watched carefully so that the water didn't boil out and burn them. I have yet to get them to come out like hers but I'm getting close. Love ya, Paula.

By Assunta Osgood on July 10, 2012

54321

After cooking the beans to the desired tenderness, add 3 tsp. of chicken bouillon, the granulated is the best. Add some oil. Best beans we ever had. Drain the water before adding seasonings. Love to you, Paula!

By Anonymous on July 10, 2012

54321

Dilly Beans 2 lbs. green beans, trimmed 1 tsp. cayenne pepper 4 cloves garlic 4 head dill weed ¼ cup canning (pickling) salt 2 ½ cup water 2 ½ cup vinegar Pack beans, lengthwise, into hot jars. Leaving ¼ inch head space. For each pint, add ¼ tsp cayenne, 1 clove garlic and 1 head dill. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to boiling, Pour boiling hot over beans, heaving ¼ inch head space. Adjust caps. Process pints and quarts 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Yields about 4 pints or 2 quarts. Or just use the leftover brine from your favorite dill pickles. Bring it to a boil and pour over prepared beans in hot jars. Process as above. And don’t limit yourself to beans and cucumbers – this works well for broccoli, carrots, asparagus too. Good luck! Carole Bledsoe, my favorite!

By Carole Bledsoe on July 10, 2012

54321

One of my favorite ways to fix fresh green beans is to put them into a pot and let them simmer all day with some ham and onions....yummmmmm

By Beth Cox on July 10, 2012

54321

Love Ya Sista! Keep on...Keepn on!

By Vickie Marie Mansfield-Bausman on July 10, 2012

54321

I believe that ur green bean casserole is the best that I've ever had...I enjoy a lot of trying recipes out of ur cookbooks..I have close too five of them.

By Daniel Marsh on July 10, 2012

54321

love your country cooking

By eve babineaux-wagner on July 10, 2012

54321

My favorite green bean recipe is just plain old green beans with bacon or bacon grease with onions salt and pepper. I let them cook till water is almost gone. Don't like my veggies crispy unless they are raw.

By Gwin on July 10, 2012

54321

As a child we would pick the beans from my grandmother's garden, clean them, steam them with salt, pepper and butter and that would be dinner. Don't have a garden but still have lots of green bean dinners today!

By Kathy on July 10, 2012

43211

Please give us more info on canning and preserving. Its something thats gone by the wayside. Enjoy your show very much. Thanks Nan B. LaRue

By Nan LaRue on July 10, 2012

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hi! wink i was wondering if you could share the recipe for the chiken/grape salad-the one that is pictured on the croissant above? thanks! wink sandra
Sandra Neuheimer-Huller in Chicken Salad: A Southern Staple on April 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

Where do I buy these magazines
in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

I WISH I COULD COOK. COULD I COME WORK FOR JUST ROOM AND BOARD AT YOUR NEW RESTURAUNT IN PIGEON FORGE FOR THE SUMMER? I WENT TO COLLEGE NOT FAR FROM THERE - HIWASSEE COLLEGE. YOU WOULDN'T HAVE TO PAY ME, I WOULD WORK FOR FREE JUST FOR THE EXPERIENCE. TAMMY LEVAN 19 SPENCER WAY KINGS PARK, NY 11754 HAPPY EASTER! CHRIST IS RISEN!
TAMMY L LEVAN in A Basketful of Traditions on April 19, 2014 at 4:31 am

Hi Bubbles, You have some great tips. Can't wait to read your other blogs! Please give Aunt Peggy a big hug from me and here is one for you! (((HUGS))) See you in May!
Jaci Pardun in 10 Quick Household Tips on April 18, 2014 at 11:05 pm

Paula, I am glad to know that I am not the only person who makes Easter Baskets for their adult children and mail them across the United States. My Daughter lives in Long Beach, CA and I not only sent her a basket but her husband and my granddaughter Reese. We also buy special Russel Stover Bunnies for each child too. My husband has the list in his phone... Sara .. Cookies 'n Crème.... Sidney and Stephen.. Peanut Butter Etc. It one of my favorite things to do for my kids.. no matter how old they get. And passing it along to my Grandchildren. It's even more special to me knowing we share a family tradition. Blessings and Happy Easter!!
Sharon Cason-Card in A Basketful of Traditions on April 18, 2014 at 11:03 pm