OSU Extension in Pittsburg County welcomes Lockwood

Rachel Lockwood 

Green beans are available year-round, with a peak season of May to October. Green beans are also called string beans and snap beans.

Green beans were once called string beans because a fibrous string ran along the seam of the bean. The string was noticeable when you snapped off the ends. The snapping noise is the reason for its other nickname. Today they are stringless. Green beans are also available canned and frozen.

Snap beans originated in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica. By 1492, they had spread northward to what is now the southwestern United States and then spread eastward from Florida to Virginia. US farmers began breeding the bean around 1890 because of interest in bean varieties with stringless pods.

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of fresh green beans (about 100 grams) contains 31 calories , 0 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrate , 3 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein.

Green beans are a rich source of vitamins A, C and K and also contain folate, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, magnesium and potassium.

From stir fry to canning, there are plenty of ways to take advantage of fresh green beans.

Fresh green beans from the garden or the farmers market are the best to prepare and serve in many recipes, as a side dish or even to eat raw and crunchy. Green beans are the most well known in the snap bean family, but they also come as purple or yellow.

Green beans can be stored in the refrigerator but do best at high humidity. Use a plastic bag or a vegetable crisper in the refrigerator to keep the humidity high. Use fresh green beans within 3 to 5 days for optimal freshness. Choose young tender pods for the best quality. Always wash the beans before using with cold running water.

Usually green beans are cut into 2 to 4-inch lengths and the ends are trimmed off before cooking. They can be used in a variety of ways:

Green beans are good in soups and stews. They can be added when the soup is assembled or if you like a crunchier texture to the beans, add about 10 minutes before the soup or stew is done.

Cook the green beans on the stove or in the microwave and use as a side dish. Cook the beans in a small amount of water in a saucepan. Boil the beans for about 6 to 8 minutes until desired tenderness. To cook in the microwave, place in a microwave safe bowl, add a small amount of water (about ½ cup of water). Cover and microwave about 3 to 5 minutes until crisp tender.

Green beans make a tasty addition to stir fry vegetables. Add the cut pieces of green beans to the pan when other vegetables with similar cooking times are added, such as broccoli and cauliflower. Stir fry until tender crisp.

They can also be used in casseroles. Green bean casserole is a favorite side dish for holidays such as Thanksgiving.

Green beans can be canned. They must be pressure canned as they are a low acid vegetable. The Oklahoma State University Extension Center has directions for pressure canning snap beans.

Green beans can also be pickled. When the beans are pickled, acid (vinegar) is added which allows the pickled beans to be processed in a water bath canner. Pickled dilled beans or “dilly beans” are a popular way to pickle green beans.

It’s easy to freeze green beans for later. Oklahoma State University Extension recommends that all snap beans are blanched before freezing to prevent unwanted changes in texture and color during freezer storage. Blanching is a process of cooking in boiling water for a short period of time (3 minutes for green beans) and then rapidly cooling in ice water for the same amount of time before draining and freezing the beans.

Rachel Lockwood is the Family Consumer Science Extension Educator with Pittsburg County OSU Cooperative Extension Service. For more information related to this topic or related FCS programs contact Rachel at 918-423-4120, email Rachel.lockwood@okstate.edu or on Pittsburg County OSU Website http://oces.okstate.edu/pittsburg/ or find Pittsburg County OSU Extension Center or Pittsburg County OHCE on Facebook.

Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local governments cooperating. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status, or any other legally protected status and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Trending Video

Recommended for you