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September 18th, 2017

Cool Beans

by Yael Ben-Chaim

Are green beans and string beans the same thing? In fact, they are!

When green beans were first cultivated, they grew with a string attached to the curve of the shell, giving them the name “string bean.” Botanists developed a way to grow green beans without the string, and today green beans are grown and sold in both forms. Green beans are nitrogen fixers, meaning they draw nitrogen from the air and return it to the soil. Because of this, farmers often plant green beans in rotation to replenish the soil and prevent the soil is from becoming nitrogen deficient. In Maryland, green beans are in highest production in June, but you’ll find them at market throughout the summer and in early fall.

Green beans are in the leguminosae or fabaceae family. The legume family includes edible beans, peas, and peanuts.

Nutrition:

As a food high in vitamin K and vitamin A, green beans help to prevent blood clots, improve bone density, improve and maintain eyesight, and are involved in immune system function.

Selection:

Green beans should be fresh, crisp, and a deep green color. They should “snap” when bent. Avoid limp green beans with discoloration.

Storage:

Green beans can keep kept refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to a week. To freeze green beans, flash freeze on a cookie sheet for an hour. Once completely frozen, transfer green beans to a plastic bag.

Preparation and Pairing:

Green beans taste great with nuts and seeds, adding an extra crunch and flavor. If you like your veggies crunchy and crispy, try raw green beans with your favorite dip. Blanched green beans are great added to a green salad. For two winning side-dishes, try balsamic roasted green beans or green beans with dijon and shallots.

Recipe

Oven Fried Garlic Parmesan Green Beans from Sugar-Free Mom

INGREDIENTS

12 ounces fresh green beans

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 egg, beaten

½ teaspoon garlic salt

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

METHOD

Preheat oven to 425 .

In a large bowl whisk the oil, egg and salt together.

Toss in the green beans and coat well.

Sprinkle in Parmesan on the green beans and toss gently.

Place evenly on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until green beans are golden.

To crisp green beans, heat for a minute or two under broiler.

 

Photo credit: Yuri Huta

About the Author Yael Ben-Chaim

Yael is a food-lover, interested in local food systems and farmers markets. Follow Yael's blog posts on farmer market produce, recipes, and nutrition information. Yael is an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Maryland Farmers Market Association and is developing a seasonal food education program for MDFMA.