Although green beans are sometimes called string beans, most don't actually sport strings. Yet even without their strings, these young beans are packed with nutrients, including vitamin K, manganese, fiber, and vitamin C.

With more than 100 varieties available, the category includes a range of shapes and sizes. You can even find green beans with red or purple pods, although the beans are always bright green.

Like kidney beans and pinto beans, green beans are classified as common beans; the only difference is that they're harvested before their pods grow too thick and tough to eat. Because the legumes are unripe, they're generally tender and sweet. They also sometimes go by the fancier name "haricots verts," which really just means "green bean" in French, so you can use it for any variety (not just for those really long and slender beans).

Raw green beans are an excellent accompaniment to your favorite dip, but the cooking options are countless.

Buying and Storing Green Beans

When shopping, look for beans crisp enough to snap in half (yet another name for greens beans is snap beans). Avoid beans that are browning or bruised.

If you have immediate plans for your beans, it's best to keep them in your refrigerator's crisper drawer; they'll last for about a week. It's perfectly safe -- and nutritionally advisable -- to eat them raw. They're a lovely addition to a crudité platter served with a really good dip.

But green beans are well-suited for long-term storage. For example, you can freeze them without sacrificing much nutritional value. To freeze beans, boil them for a few minutes; plunge them into ice cold water and then stash in freezer bags.

Finally, green beans are a great choice for canning, which isn't as complicated as you might think. And if you like to pickle, green beans and vinegar are a winning combination.

Preparing green beans

The first step to any recipe involving green beans is to run them under cold water. Trim the beans by snapping or cutting off their ends. One of the healthiest ways to prepare them is steaming. Although the method is simple, you can dress up the results with almonds and caramelized shallots, or a pretty hollandaise sauce.

On the other end of the cooking spectrum, green beans are delicious when slow cooked, as in this bacon-enhanced recipe from Chef John. They're equally good when roasted, sautéed or grilled.


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Lemon echoes the freshness of just-plucked beans.

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Indulge your fresh-veg obsession with dozens of green-bean recipes.

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