French Beans

Tender, crunchy and in season from mid summer to mid autumn. French beans are a versatile vegetable liked by everyone. They are also known as string beans, although they are stringless if picked early, or green beans, although there are yellow and cream varieties, as well as green.

French Beans

(phaseolus vulgaris)
Leguminosae

Detail of French Beans.

French beans are tender, slender beans with green, rounded pods, 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) long. The pods are eaten whole, including the immature seeds, when they are still young, juicy and tender. They have a delicate texture and sweet flavor. The part eaten are the pods and the seeds. The seeds of the mature pod are knows as flageolets and can be eaten and used as you would do with peas.

They can be called green beans or pole beans. Green beans grow on a vine and are actually pods with little beans inside them. Green beans are a delicious side dish for any meal. They can be found Italian style, French style, and simply cut.

Where to Find Them

Green beans are sold at farmer's markets and grocery stores. You just dig right in and grab a handful for your bag. Fresh green beans have a sweeter taste than canned. It could be because of the salt that preserves the beans in the can. All I know, is they taste so much better straight from the garden.

Choosing the Best Green Beans

Look at your beans. Don't choose ones with spots or that are torn at the ends. The beans should be green and not brown. Sometimes the beans have purple and yellow varieties. Before cooking them, most people snap the ends off and snap them in half if they are too long. Rinsing the beans removes any dirt from them before cooking.

French Bean Trivia

French beans are actually native from South America and arrived to the European continent as part of the American food bounty. These beans were already grown by the Incas and later by other Native American in fields along with the corn.

Left until the pods turn dry and yellow and once dried, they are known as haricot beans.

Although green is the most common and the preferred as a vegetable, the pods come in a variety of colors; other than green, there are speckled purple, purple and yellow -often known as wax beans. The beans can be white, dark brown, light brown, blotched or speckled, and black.

Nutritional Value

Green beans are a fat free food that contains vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and protein. They don't have a lot of carbohydrates which don't adversely affect the blood sugar. You can eat all you want and still be healthy. Good source of vitamin C, carotene and a variety of minerals, some fiber but very little protein; low in calories, as most vegetables.

  • Help to prevent anemia and diabetes because of their Iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A.
  • Help to keep a healthy digestive system because of their fiber content.

Storage

Fresh vegetables don't last longer than a couple of weeks at their best. It is a good idea not to buy more than you can use at any one time, but we often do. They would keep for 1-2 days at room temperature, but, as the rapidly lose vitamin C, they are better stored cold.

Fridge - Beans will keep 2-3 days - place inside a paper bag or perforated plastic bag.

Freezer - Frozen beans will keep 1 year. - clean and blanche for 2 minutes, drain and leave to cool. Distribute in portions and put each one into a freezer bag, to be eaten when you feel like it.

Canned - French beans ar good for home canning.

Preparation and Cooking

It doesn't take long to cook green beans. They can be steamed in a small amount of water or sautéed in some olive oil. Either way, the beans are bright green, crisp, and sweet. Snap beans can be used in stir fry mixtures as well if you desire. Fresh green beans have a bright green color when cooked. Their shape should be maintained during cooking. If you cook them too long, they will wilt and not taste very good.

Boiling and steaming are the preferred methods, and other than these stir-frying or stewing. Boiled or steamed and cold, French beans make excellent salads. Beans are usually served with some starch and meat for a complete meal. At Christmas time they take center stage in green bean casseroles. It is a popular dish at the holidays.

  • Trim both ends.
  • Eliminate the string on the side, if necessary, by separating the stem and pulling towards the other end. - Early French beans don't have usually a string, however beans allowed growing for too long or the ones harvested later in the season, might.
  • Cook whole in boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes or steam until tender.


French beans - phaseolus vulgaris - a French bean by another name: haricot vert, green beans, pole beans, snap bean, string bean, shell bean, kidney bean.