Green Beans

21/07/2012 14:40

There are many green bean varieties and not all are green.Some older varieties are purple or mottled and of course there's the yellow(wax) bean.They can be round or flat but they are all snap or as some call them,string beans.Most of the green beans sold in grocery stores are the 'stringless' varieties but many believe the flavour of the 'string' varieties is superior in taste.


The two main types of green beans are the lower growing bush beans and the much taller vine like runner beans as we Brits call them or Pole beans as North Americans refer to them due to the fact that they need some type of support.Whether bush or runner/pole,they are both known as green, snap or string beans.Which ever name one prefers.

In addition to green beans there are Scarlet runners which is one of the older runner beans and is cultivated for both its edible and ornamental properties.Although long cultivated as a vegetable in England,they have mostly been grown as an ornamental in North America until recently.
As a bonus,the attractive red flowers of the Scarlet runners also attract hummingbirds.

Preparing green beans~

Boiling, steaming or microwaving are popular ways to cook green beans. Don't forget that you can also add green beans to a stir fry too.

 Here's a tip for keeping green beans or any other green vegetable 'green' while cooking in water; the faster they cook the less nutrients they will lose. So always make sure the water is at a rolling boil, adding salt to the water will help to keep the temperature high and never cover the pan with a lid as greens contain chlorophyll which needs to be released into the air.This stops the  greens from becoming dull in colour.

If at the end of the season you still have plenty of beans on the vine,as often happens,freezing is the perfect way to preserve and store your bounty from the garden. Green beans freeze very well. You will need to blanch them before freezing. Select young, tender beans and wash thoroughly.

All veggies intended for freezer storage should be blanched in boiling water. This retards the action of the chemical substance in vegetables called enzymes. These enzymes cause spoilage of both colour and flavour if the blaching process is carried out incorrectly. So check times carefully.

BLANCHING ~ For best results use a saucepan large enough to hold eight pints of fast boiling water with room to spare. Put a maximum of 1lb. prepared vegetables into a wire basket or sieve and immerse in the fast boiling water for the specified time. French beans- trim ends. Runner beans, slice thickly, blanch for 2-3 minutes.

Time the process from the moment the water returns to a fast boil. The same water can be used several times. As soon as blanching is complete, remove the basket from the water and cool quickly to prevent overcooking. Do this by Plunging the beans into a large quantity of ice-cold water or under a running tap. Drain thoroughly before packing.

As mentioned,the older varieties often have 'strings' running down the pod which should be removed before further preparation. Top and tail the beans and pull away any strings.

Some delicious green bean recipes-


1 1/2 lb prepared green beans
1 1/2 oz -butter
1 tsp -cumin seeds
4 cloves garlic ,peeled & crushed
black pepper & salt

Melt the butter in a pan and add the cumin seeds, sizzle them for 30 seconds.
Add the garlic and stir-fry until just brown, add the green beans, pepper & salt, cook for a couple of mins, stirring continuously. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook for 10 - 12 mins, stir occasionally, just until the beans are tender. Remove from heat and serve.


Boil 400g of green beans in salted water, until cooked, drain well.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan melt 30g butter, add 1 garlic clove, finely chopped, 40g flaked almonds, a squeeze of orange juice and the cooked green beans. Toss until well coated and heated through and the almonds are golden. Season and serve.

This is a good recipe if your runner/pole beans have become too big and slightly tough.

Makes 4 x 450g jars

1kg runner beans,chopped into 1cm pieces
700g onions,chopped
700g soft brown sugar
700ml white vinegar
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mustard powder

Place the beans into a large saucepan with just enough salted water to cover them.Simmer until tender.
In a separate pan, add the onions, vinegar, sugar, salt and the spices and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Then, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the beans and add them to the onion and vinegar mixture. Boil for 10 minutes or until the mixture thickens.
Ladle into sterilized jars, seal and label, and leave to mature for few days before tucking in!

~ Serves 4

3tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tbsp garlic & ginger paste
450g green beans, chopped
pinch of ground turmeric
55g creamed coconut, grated
250ml water
pinch of paprika to garnish

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Add the mustard seeds, stir around for a minute until they begin to pop. Add the onion, ginger & garlic paste and the turmeric and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the green beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Sprinkle over the creamed coconut, add the water and bring to the boil, stirring. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes until the beans are tender, but still have bite. Season to taste with a little salt & black pepper. Serve sprinkled with a little paprika powder to garnish.

Tip ~ If you like your vegetable dishes with more heat, add a fresh chopped green chilli with the garlic and ginger paste.