Friday, June 17, 2011

Fresh Green Beans
Green Beans (Round, Pole)

Flat Green Beans (Romano)

Green Beans are so delicious when they can be bought garden fresh. Most of us prefer the round varieties of this delectable veggie, while others love the flat varieties.

In supermarkets green beans are usually displayed on refrigerated counters with water mist sprayers to keep them fresh. Mist sprayers are not good for beans because the moisture eventually turns them rusty, tough and inedible. Good quality beans will be clean, unblemished and feel firm. I recommend passing on wilted or wrinkled beans, also if the tips are brown, black or rusty colored.

If you are buying round beans, press your thumb against the end of the bean and try to "snap" off the tip. If it makes a snapping noise, it means the beans are fresh. Flat beans should be firm too.

Dark green varieties last significantly longer in your refrigerator and are usually more tender. Green beans typically have a shelf life of up to a week.

Yellow Beans (Round, Pole)

Flat Yellow Beans (Romano)

Yellow varieties tend to be more fragile than their green cousins. They can rusty quickly if they are not handled, stored and bought properly. When buying fresh beans ensure there is no rusty spotting evident. Inspect the bean seams for dryness and cracking a sign of toughness.

Storing yellow beans in plastic bags causes them to rust quickly, better to store them in a paper bag or plastic container. I suggest eating them within 4 days.

Cranberry Beans (Borlotti)

Fresh cranberry beans are usually available at your local farmer's market during summer months. They are in high demand and will usually be sold out by noon because many customers will place advance orders to ensure they don't miss out. In my experience Italians are the biggest consumer of this variety, buying huge quantities to prepare, store and consume over the winter months.

A beautiful colored bean used to make so many dishes. They tend to lose their color after being cooked.

Lima Beans

Fresh lima beans are hard to find. I suggest visiting your local farmer's market and asking one of your favorite growers to plant them for you.  You may have to wait until the following season.

My mother forced me to eat canned lima beans as a child and I still dislike them to this day. But like many other vegetables, fresh lima beans taste completely different and you may find yourself becoming addicted to this delicacy. When buying always split a couple open and inspect the beans. Sampling is best.

Purple Beans

Purple beans look beautiful when added to any dishes, I lightly steam them to maintain their purple color.

I have noticed a few supermarkets beginning to carry this variety in season, but they are usually available at your local farmer's market during the summer. Purple beans have a tendency of being tough and sometimes you need to cook them a little longer than green beans. There really is no visable difference between tender beans and tough beans. I can only tell by sampling a couple raw off the display. If they taste tough raw, they will also be a little tough after they have been prepared.

Nice when you're tired of the usual...

Fava Beans (Broad)

Fava beans also called Broad beans are very popular with middle-eastern peoples. A beautiful looking huge bean usually about 8-12 inches in length and very easy to shell. Supermarkets do not typically carry this variety, although it is usually available at ethnic food stores and farmer's markets.

When shopping do not buy fava beans if the outer skin is black, rusty or wilted (floppy).  Fava beans should be firm, dark green and clean looking. Like lima beans I suggest sampling to ensure they are fresh.

Once you have gotten your purchase home it is always a good idea to pop a few pencil-sized holes in your plastic bags to allow the beans to breathe. This prevents the bags from sweating and condensating which will make the beans rusty and tough. By doing this you may also find your purchase lasts a few extra days in your refrigerator.

Enjoy and please leave add any comments you think would benefit my readers...


  1. Good post...thank you for sharing this post..:D

    Hulda Regehr Clark

  2. Rick, sometimes the beans have a soft silky feel to them.. is that a typical fresh characteristic as well?


  3. It has more to do with the variety... thanks for visiting my site


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