Beans are popular in most of the world’s culinary traditions for a lot of good reasons: They’re tasty; they’re an excellent source of protein and fiber, and they’re one of the few protein-rich foods that naturally keeps for a long time. They can still spoil, of course — whether they’re fresh, dry or canned — so it’s handy to know what signs show that you should toss them out.
- The Difference Between Spoilage Bacteria and Pathogens
- Fresh Beans in Their Pods
- Dry Beans and Spoilage
- Canned Food Hisses When Opened
- Are raw green beans safe to eat? Mystery squash? Ask an expert
- How to Store Green Beans Properly in the Fridge
- How to Freeze Green Beans
- When to Toss Green Beans
- Step 1: Choose Freezer-Friendly Foods
- Step 2: Chill
- Step 3: Store
- Step 4: Freeze Quickly
- Step 5: Defrost
- Watch out for Freezer-Unfriendly Foods
- Green Coffee Freshness: How Old is Too Old?
- What is Blanching?
- Let the Beans Chill!
- How to Cook Green Beans
- What to do with Overgrown Green Beans
- When are green beans overripe?
- How to Cook Fresh Green Beans
- Green Bean Nutrition
- How to Prep & Cut Fresh Green Beans
- Five Simple Ways to Cook Green Beans
- 1. How to Sauté Green Beans
- 2. How to Roast Green Beans
- 3. How to Steam Green Beans
- 4. How to Microwave Green Beans
- 5. How to Boil Green Beans
- How to Shop for Fresh Green Beans
- How to Store Fresh Green Beans
- Related posts:
The Difference Between Spoilage Bacteria and Pathogens
Whenever you’re talking about food going bad, it’s important to recognize that there are two entirely separate groups of microorganisms at work.
Molds and spoilage bacteria cause your foods to spoil visibly, with weird smells, visual deterioration and sometimes a slimy film that grows on the food. There may not even be any bacteria or fungi involved: All foods contain natural enzymes that break them down over time, so they’ll decompose and become compost.
Pathogens are different. Those are the “bugs” that can make you really sick, like salmonella, E. coli and listeria. You can’t see them, smell them or taste them, which is part of what makes them dangerous. With these germs, you have to know a few food safety guidelines and use some common sense.
Fresh Beans in Their Pods
Fresh beans in their pods aren’t especially perishable, and they’ll easily last three to five days in your fridge. They can go longer if your fridge is a good one and the vegetable crisper is well-designed. The rust spots on green beans are safe to eat, if any of those should develop, but you can cut them off if you don’t like the look of them.
As they get older, your beans may start to look shriveled and dry, which makes them a bit leathery. They’re still edible, just not as good. If your green beans are slimy in the bag, that’s a different story. They’re starting to decompose, and you should just toss them.
Cooked green beans are good for three to five days in your fridge, as well. If you’re not going to eat them by that time, you should package them in airtight in freezer bags and put them in the freezer. If you’ve done a good job of extracting as much air as possible from the bag, they can last up to a year.
Dry Beans and Spoilage
Dry beans are among the longest-lasting of all natural foods, with a shelf life that’s measured in years rather than days or weeks. As long as you keep them in a cool, dark place and a well-sealed container, they’ll last almost indefinitely. They taste and cook best within the first couple of years, though.
Moisture is your only real enemy with dry beans. If they show signs of moisture or condensation, or especially if they’re sprouting, you should discard them. If they show any signs of mold or fermentation, definitely get rid of them. Molds can create some pretty nasty toxins.
Once they’re cooked, the beans are just as perishable as any other leftovers and will last three to five days in your fridge. If your beans taste sour that means they’ve begun to spoil and ferment, and you should definitely throw them out.
Canned Food Hisses When Opened
Canned beans are a reliable staple to keep on hand for quick meals when you don’t have the time to mess around with soaking and cooking dried beans. As a rule, the shelf life of commercially canned food is pretty nearly infinite, as long as the can’s seal remains intact. It’s best within the first three to five years, but you can still safely eat it after that.
Once you’ve opened the can, your beans will last the same three to five days as any other leftovers.
If the can is visibly rusted or damaged, or if it’s been exposed to extremes of heat and cold, the beans might not be food safe any longer. If it hisses and sprays when you open it, that’s definitely a bad sign. It means the beans inside have fermented, and shouldn’t be eaten. Other forms of spoilage, including the bacteria that cause botulism, can’t be seen or smelled. Where cans are concerned, “When it doubt, throw it out” is a good rule to follow.
Most people live in fear of overcooking their vegetables. And no wonder—the great majority of us grew up eating soggy overcooked Brussels sprouts, olive-green broccoli, and green beans with no more backbone than a piece of spaghetti. It’s no wonder that, now that we’re fully grown adults, we’ve seized control of our vegetable fate and cook our vegetables just until they’re bright-green and crisp-tender.
But in our eagerness to overthrow the haunting memories of vegetables past, have we gone too far? When green beans taste more like freshly-mown grass than food, and their texture is more squeaky-snap than chewable, we’re not cooking them any more. We’re undercooking them.
Even worse, these undercooked vegetables have such a “green” flavor, we need to drown them in sauce to make them taste decent. And that means that those bright and crunchy vegetables end up tasting way less like themselves than the properly cooked kind.
How to Make a 3-Ingredient Brussels Sprouts Main Dish
Don’t believe me? No less a cooking authority than the dearly departed Marcella Hazan agrees with me. In her own words:
“Let me tell you: When I was teaching, let’s say that I was cooking some string beans and they were in the boiling water and people would say, “Marcella, they must be cooked.” So I said, “Let’s taste it,” and I took it out and they were crunchy. And they said, “They are cooked now.” I said: “Yes? Do you taste the string beans? Let’s see what happens if we cook it a little longer.” After a little longer, they were not mushy at all but they were cooked. And they said, oh, now they are different, they are really string beans.” Cooking brings out the taste. If you cook vegetables too little because you want them crunchy, they all have one thing in common: They taste like grass.”
So the next time you’re boiling green beans, take a moment to taste one before declaring them cooked. If they taste more like grass than vegetable, give them another minute or two in the pot. Same thing for any other vegetable you’re eating cooked. Or go full force and char them on the grill or roast them until they’re just starting to shrivel. You might just find you love them even more than you did a day (or a lifetime) ago.
Are raw green beans safe to eat? Mystery squash? Ask an expert
Advice from OSU Extension Service and Master Gardeners
Gardening season is in high gear and everyone has a question of some sort. Get answers from Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?
Courtesy of OSU Extension Service
Are raw green beans toxic?
Q: Are raw green beans safe to eat? Some people say they are safe to eat raw and other people say that they can be toxic.
– Coos County
A: Green beans, also known as string beans, are indeed safe to eat raw, (fresh or frozen) given of course, that you have properly washed them.
It may be confusing to you and others since some dried beans, like kidney and cannellini beans, are not safe to eat raw and must be cooked before consuming. They contain high amounts of the toxin phytohaemagglutinin. According to the FDA, boiling dried beans in water for at least 10 minutes breaks down this toxin.
All dried beans contain some of this toxin so it is recommended they are cooked until soft (25 to 45 minutes). This would include those like black beans, pinto, Lima, kidney and cannellini beans, black-eyed-peas, etc. It is not recommended to cook raw dried beans in a slow cooker since temperatures do not reach the level necessary to destroy the toxin. You can, however, boil dried beans for 10 minutes in water and then safely move them into a slow cooker.
If you purchase cans of beans, they are safe to eat since they have been pre-cooked in the canning process. Canned beans can be consumed cold out of the can in salads or salsas or reheated in soups or casseroles.
– Stephanie Polizzi, OSU Extension Family & Community Health
Spaghetti squash mystery
Q: I planted spaghetti squash seeds and got some spaghetti squash but also some that is not. I can’t find a picture online that looks like what I have. Could you please identify what they are so I can learn how best to use them for food?
– Marion County
Courtesy of OSU Extension Service
A: There is great variation in the squash family. Zucchini and other summer squash can be long and thin or oval or even round. It may be that the green squash is a runaway summer squash that happened into your spaghetti squash seed packet. It might also be an unripe spaghetti squash – they do take around 90 days to mature. Check out the Eden Brothers seed catalog for lots of photos of this group.
As for the other image, it may be too early to tell. Some winter squash will turn color as they mature, so the color it is today may not be its final color. The bright green stem suggests a ways to go before complete ripening. It could also be a gourd. They are such a diverse group that anything may happen.
Another avenue we could go down is the cross-pollination route. Last season, bees may have moved pollen around from summer squash to winter squash to gourds in your garden or from a neighbor’s garden. The impact would not have been seen last year. However, if the seeds from one of those crossed squash fell to the ground and “volunteered” this season amongst the planted seeds, well, something different from either parent appears. Might be tasty, might not. Give them time. Here’s how to test for ripeness.
– Claudia Groth, OSU Extension Master Gardener
Don’t Edit Don’t Edit
Courtesy of OSU Extension Service
A case of peach leaf curl?
Q: I have a newly planted peach tree that was doing great but now some of the smaller leaves have turned yellow and some of the more developed leaves have red spots on the and the bark around the leaves is looking rusty.
– Jackson County
A: It appears your tree may be suffering from peach leaf curl.
Peach leaf curl is caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans and occurs wherever peaches are grown. The fungus causes the growing cells at the leaf margins to multiply quickly and randomly, which results in the puckered, curled, distorted appearance. Often the color of the leaves vary from shades of green and yellow to pink, orange and purple. Spores are produced on the surface of the leaf as the leaf matures, giving it a dusty appearance. Fruit can be infected and will either drop prematurely or form distortions on the surface.
The spores overwinter in bark crevices and around the buds. Primary infection occurs from bud swell until the first leaves fully emerge. Rains wash the spores into the buds and long periods of cool (50 to 70 degrees), wet (more than 95 percent humidity) weather are ideal for infection; little infection occurs below 45 degrees. If warm temperatures follow bud swell and leaf development is rapid, infections are rarely established, even if rains occur.
Sanitation and cultural controls are not effective for this disease. Some peach cultivars have been bred for resistance to this disease, so resistant cultivars and fungicides are the primary management tools.
Copper sprays during tree dormancy, as well as in-season applications, are important. Once established in a group of trees, even radical pruning to remove infections will have only modest success controlling the disease. Here are two publications you may find useful: Disease and Insect Control for Homegrown Peaches and Plums and Peach Leaf Curl.
– Chris Rusch, OSU Extension Master Gardener
Courtesy of OSU Extension Service
What’s infecting this grapevine?
Q: My backyard grapevines looked healthy until about a couple of weeks ago. They are 3 years old. They now have what looks like gray-black mildew on the vines, but the grapes still look healthy. Any diagnosis or treatment would be appreciated.
– Multnomah County
A: I believe your grapes are infected with powdery mildew – a common fungus. The photo in the Oregon Extension Service publication Scouting for Grape Powdery Mildew shows symptoms quite similar to yours.
This fungus also attacks the leaves and grapes. On the leaves, early in the infection, you could see tiny white powdery patches on the under surface. These later show as yellow/brown spots on the upper surface. On the fruit, a grey mass will coat the bunches.
To combat this disease, prune the vines to increase air circulation. Also, ensure that the grapes are in good sun and do not suffer drought stress. This makes them more susceptible to this and other diseases. Good cultural practices may be enough to control the disease in years when pressure is not severe.
When your vines and bunches are affected year after year, a preventive spray program might be needed. There are several materials available to the home gardener. Begin when new vines are 6 inches long and continue through the growing season, as recommended on product labels. Product names may vary, but look for the following active ingredients. Read and follow all label directions, especially concerning use on food crops, number of sprays allowed per season, and how long before harvest to stop spraying.
- Bicarbonate-based products
- Sulfur-based products
- Bacillus subtilis strain QST 713 (commonly sold under the Serenade name)
For complete information on growing grapes in the Willamette Valley, see Growing Table Grapes.
– Claudia Groth, OSU Extension Master Gardener
More advice from the experts
- What’s eating this tomato?
- How and when to fertilize strawberries?
- What’s the hardiest sod for Oregon lawns?
- How to grow onions and artichokes
- How to clear soil choked with old roots
- How to identify pests chomping on your garden
- Help! My tomatoes are dying
Don’t Edit Don’t Edit© Caitlin Bensel
There’s a reason green beans are found on almost every holiday table—they’re high in essential nutrients, super versatile, and taste great inside a casserole or as a sautéed veggie dish alongside meat or fish. Yet they can spoil pretty quickly if they aren’t properly stored and cared for.
Luckily, as long as you take the right measures to keep green beans fresh, you’ll be able to savour their flavours and make the most of your purchase without spoilage. Here’s what to know about extending the shelf life of this year-round, popular green vegetable.
How to Store Green Beans Properly in the Fridge
© Getty WASHINGTON, DC – Brown Butter Green Beans photographed in Washington, DC. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images). First off, don’t mess up at the grocery store and choose green beans that are close to rotting. “Purchase beans that have a smooth feel and a vibrant green colour, and that are free from brown spots or bruises. They should have a firm texture and ‘snap’ when broken,” says Toby Amidor, MS, RD, nutrition expert and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author.
Then, once you’ve brought them home, get them in the fridge. “Store unwashed fresh bean pods in a plastic bag kept in the refrigerator crisper. Whole beans stored this way should keep for about seven days,” she says.
If you plan to use them in an upcoming meal, wash them under running water. Remove both ends of the beans by either snapping them off or cutting them with a knife. If you end up having leftovers, you can put the green bean dish back in the fridge, but you’ll only be able to eat it for another 3-4 days, she says.
How to Freeze Green Beans
© Getty DENVER, CO – JUNE 18: The chilled green beans with fresh ground sesame seeds and shoyu-sesame dressing at Osaka Ramen in Denver’s RiNo neighborhood on Thursday June 18, 2015. (Photo by Cyrus McCrimmon/The Denver Post via Getty Images ) While you can keep green beans fresher through fridge storage, you can’t beat the life extension of a freezer. Storing them in the freezer can help get the most out of your green beans, especially if you couldn’t help yourself and bought too many on your trip to the farmers market, she says.
“You can cook the green beans, such as blanch in boiling water for several minutes, and then allow them to cool. Then place in a resealable plastic freezer bag for up to 8 to 10 months,” she explains.
When to Toss Green Beans
Sometimes despite your best efforts, there’s nothing you can do to save those precious green beans. “Brown spots, and bean seed shapes that are coming out of the shell means that they are starting to get old,” says Amidor. That means, use them ASAP or be prepared to toss them in a day or so. And if the beans are already slimy and wet, they’re no longer safe to eat.
Gallery: Here’s How to Properly Freeze Foods (Cooking Light)
- Gravies and sauces thickened with cornstarch or flour will separate during the freezing process. You can freeze an unthickened sauce, and then add thickeners after thawing.
- Fruits and vegetables with a high water content, such as lettuce and watermelon, will become limp and soggy when thawed.
- Cooked potatoes develop a gritty texture when frozen.
- Fully cooked pasta may become mushy once reheated. Slightly undercook pasta before freezing it.
- Some dairy products, such as yogurt, sour cream, milk, and light cream, will separate when frozen.
- Green Beans with Orange Miso Sauce
- Haricot Verts with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions
- Citrus Green Beans with Almonds
- 4 quarts water, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups ice cubes
- 1 pound green beans, or haricot verts
- Add 3 quarts of water and salt to a large pot. Heat pot over high heat until a rolling boil is reached and large bubbles break the surface.
- In a medium-sized bowl combine 1-quart water and ice. Set ice bath aside.
- Add beans to the boiling water and cook until the green beans are bright green and crisp tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Immediately transfer beans to the ice bath for 5 minutes. Drain beans and use as desired.
- Mixing Bowl
- Metal Tongs
- Measuring Spoons
1/6 SLIDES © Elizabeth Laseter
Step 1: Choose Freezer-Friendly Foods
Freshness and quality of the food at the time of freezing affect the condition of frozen foods. If foods are frozen at the peak of their quality, they emerge tasting better than foods frozen near the end of their freshness. So freeze items you won’t use in the near future sooner rather than later. It’s important to store all foods at 0° or lower in order to retain vitamin content, color, flavor, and texture.
Some foods are better suited to freezing and reheating than others. Casseroles, soups, stews, chili, and meat loaf all stand up to the freezer well. Find our picks for the best freezable recipes.
2/6 SLIDES © Elizabeth Laseter
Step 2: Chill
To keep food safe, cool freshly cooked dishes quickly before freezing. Putting foods that are still warm in the freezer can raise the temperature, causing surrounding frozen items to partially thaw and refreeze, which can alter the taste and texture of some foods. To prevent this, place food in a shallow, wide container and refrigerate, uncovered, until cool. To chill soup or stew even faster, pour it into a metal or heat-resistant glass bowl and set in an ice bath (a larger bowl filled halfway with ice water). Stir occasionally.
For stews, braises, or other semiliquid dishes with some fat content, chill completely, and then skim the fat from the top before freezing. Fat spoils over time in the freezer and shortens a dish’s frozen shelf life.
3/6 SLIDES © Elizabeth Laseter
Step 3: Store
Avoid freezer burn by using moisture-proof zip-top plastic bags and wrap. Remove the air from bags before sealing. Store soups and stews in gallon or quart freezer bags, which can be placed flat and freeze quickly.
Storing foods in smaller servings help it freeze quickly, and it also allows you to defrost only what you need.
Use a permanent marker to label each container with the name of the dish, volume or weight if you’ve measured it, and the date you put it in the freezer.
4/6 SLIDES © Elizabeth Laseter
Step 4: Freeze Quickly
The quicker food freezes, the better its quality once thawed. Do not crowd the freezer—arrange containers in a single layer in the freezer to allow enough room for air to circulate around them so food will freeze rapidly. Slowly frozen food forms large ice crystals that may turn the food mushy. Most cooked dishes will keep for two to three months in the freezer. You can also use a freezer thermometer to ensure that your unit’s temperature remains at 0° or below.
5/6 SLIDES © Elizabeth Laseter
Step 5: Defrost
Defrost food in the refrigerator or in the microwave. We recommend allowing enough time for the food to defrost in the refrigerator—roughly 5 hours per pound. To avoid the risk of contamination, never defrost food at room temperature.
6/6 SLIDES © Getty Images / BravissimoS
Watch out for Freezer-Unfriendly Foods
Freezing is a great make-ahead strategy, but it doesn’t work for all foods—some things simply don’t freeze well.
Green Coffee Freshness: How Old is Too Old?
As of late, I have began to question the notion that green coffee is a commodity that seems to have a longer shelf life than Plutonium by some accounts. This comes from the sole experience that can make the determination of the actual life of green coffee based solely on quality: blind cupping.
Subsequently, I began to see that the idea of 2-5 year claims of coffee freshness in the green form are made to the great advantage of those who move around containers of the stuff, and to large commercial roasters who will blend a stinky past-crop coffee into their trademark blend because they could buy so many thousand tons of it for 50¢ under the “C” market price (that is, CHEAP!).
But such notions of freshness do not benefit the small quality-oriented roaster of estate and single-origin coffees, nor the consumers that are at our mercy as we act as “arbitrators of taste” on their behalf.
In general, nobody who has a financial stake in a shipment of coffee wants to see it age. Coffee sold as “Specialty-Grade” has large premiums attached to it that are based on the cup quality as agreed upon by a buyer and seller. If the pre-ship sample does not match the arrival coffee, the container can be rejected at a HUGE loss to the exporter.
And in fact green coffee is a DRIED SEED, extremely dense (try biting a green bean with 11% moisture content grown at 5500 feet -you will break a tooth) chemically stable, not porous, and incredibly impervious when you compare it to its roasted form. Yes, its like other dried seeds or beans a person might store in their pantry. Then again, we ask a lot more from this bean that we do from a dried Pinto Bean or Brown Rice!
The tastes associated with age are hard notes, namely bagginess: a burlap-like taste. It belongs to a family of defects where the fats in the coffee absorb odors over time, and the degradation of the lipids in particular. The bean structure degrades too, stored probably in too hot or too cold temperatures, losing its moisture content as time goes by. Moisture may also be liberated from the coffee only to condense in a container, which can form an environment where bacteria and mold can possess the coffee.
The standards for age are not going to be uniform from continent to continent, region to region, and cup to cup. Two coffees can possess the same amount of off taste in the cup, and one will be passable while another will be intolerably defective. A bright acidy coffee will fade, and become insipidly mild …if it takes on baggy notes, these will be very obvious and very contradictory to the cup character of the coffee. A Sumatran that features low-acidity, body and depth, with some degree of earthiness or mustiness will disguise the baggy tastes quite well. It will be VERY apparent in the appearance of the coffee, but the cup will be more passable.
In fact, this is the basis for Aged coffees; they are after all SERIOUSLY degraded, defective cups. But the quality is excused because the consumer is seeking the smoky, aggressive character intended to be both mellowed and pungent at the same time. (And in fact, Aged coffee is NOT old coffee: it is aged with care by rotating the bags or otherwise rotating the coffee to even out the moisture distribution and prevent any bad things like mold from developing. It is done in the county of origin, usually at some altitude to avoid extreme temperature or humidity fluctuations. It is expensive since the costs to age it are great, the reward delayed, there is labor involved, and the risk of possibly turning out a rotten cup of coffee after 2-3 years! I have seen people pass of old coffee as aged coffee —this is nothing short of fraud! Example: “Aged Swiss Water Decaf Sumatra Gayo Mountain”!!!)
Another complication: How was the coffee stored as it was getting old? The worst case is that it sat in a humid hot warehouse in New Orleans, bagged in jute. This is common for commercial-grade coffees that are sold and resold by speculative buyers. But coffee can also be stored in Parchment (the outer-silverskin layer, also called Pergamino) at the farm or mill (hopefully at a temperate location at altitude) and fair quite well for 6-9 months. But only the best coffees will get such treatment!
Lastly, lets talk about age in terms of months… It is commonly stated in the trade that green coffee is Past Crop once the New Crop from that origin has arrived in the U.S. … and Past Crop coffees are often discounted for quicker sale. But that means a roaster buying a Past Crop coffee from a broker might have it a year in his own storage before roasting it all. That makes the coffee very old for ANY origin, and the cup will suffer.
In fact, Current Crop coffees can show serious loss in quality in the cup, and baggy defective notes. Early shipments of Centrals that are green-tasting in the cup when they arrive, often machine-dried to get them to market quickly, will degrade in 5 months in my experience (1998/99 Costa Rican Tarrazu Papagayo cupped in July, 3 months after I sold out of it. —Yes, the cup was nice on arrival but I think this was one of my buying mistakes!)
So, as a general rule I sell out of every coffee we stock within 5-6 months of it having arrived in the US. I avoid certain early-picking of Centrals. I cup the coffees every month to see if there is any sign of age coming on… and NEVER buy a coffee that might show a sign of degraded cup character. My standard is that the coffee should get to the customer and be consumed within the year …I have a 5-6 month window, and the customer gets 5-6 months. In fact, we move through our stocks of coffee much quicker than this. The Sumatra Mandheling is re-cupped and repurchased from newly arrived lots 4-5 times per year!
I promise that I am attending to the age and cup-quality of my coffee at all times. I urge you to query any coffee supplier about when the coffee they have arrived in the US (NOT when it arrived at their shop). Crop year should be available for all coffees, in my opinion. And ideally we would all know about the date it was milled, how long it was rested in Pergamino too, and if it was shipped promptly from port. But this is a bit too much to ask, even in the internet age, of our venerable old trade at this time …
Yes, I get complaints from customers that “the Kenya selection is poor” or “where’s that Guatemalan” or “why only 2 Costa Ricans”. The answer can be deduced from reading this: I will NEVER stock an origin just because I need it on the list: I will only stock it based on cup quality. I urge other small specialty coffee business to treat coffee as a crop, to be willing to tell customers “No Kenya” or “No Costa Rican” rather than purchase a coffee you know is peaked. It will only make the arrival of that truly great Costa Rican that much more significant. In the meantime, they can try other bright coffees that ARE at their prime.
And we need to stop listening to the Big Boys …Have you ever had a coffee with incredible piquant, zesty bright notes that was roasted 6 months ago in a 4-Bag Jabez Burns, water quenched, ground, and packaged in Pillow-Packs when it was convenient in the production schedule? Let me know if you did, brother…
Lastly, these are my opinions… let me know if you disagree. Tom 3/24/00
Master how to cook green beans and achieve the perfect texture and color every time. The simple blanch and shock method is the key to bright and crunchy beans.
Nobody likes to eat mushy and dull colored vegetables, that’s why learning how to cook green beans like a pro will be a game changer in the kitchen. There is an easy method to achieve beautiful bright and crisp beans called “blanch and shock.”
It’s a two-step process that takes less than 10 minutes to ensure perfect results. From there, you can refrigerate the beans for later use in recipes, or rewarm them immediately with seasonings for a tasty side dish. Once you’ve mastered this cooking technique, you will never have to worry about the dreaded green bean disaster being served to your guests every again!
What is Blanching?
Blanching is submerging vegetables in a large pot of boiling salted water for just a few minutes to soften the cell walls. For green beans, what you’ll observe is the dull green chlorophyll transform into a bright green color. The change is due to the air between the cells bubbling off in the hot environment and the tissue of the plant becoming more transparent.
Beware! Do not walk away from the pot. If you cook the vegetables too long or don’t stop the cooking process, the bright green can change to the dull olive green. This is because as the chlorophyll molecules get heated, the magnesium ion contained in the center releases, and causes the unpleasant color change. What should you do to prevent this?
Let the Beans Chill!
The quick blanching helps cook and tenderize the green beans, but shocking them right after in a large ice water bath stops the cooking and any further change in color. The result is crisp, tender, gorgeous green vegetables.
Just reheat the vegetables right before serving. You can also freeze or refrigerate the blanched beans until ready to cook. This method is also perfect for green vegetables like broccoli, snow and snap peas and asparagus.
More green bean recipes
View all Green Bean recipes
4.15 from 27 votes
How to Cook Green Beans
Learn how to cook green beans to achieve the perfect texture and color every time. The blanch and shock method is the key to bright and crunchy beans. Prep Time5 mins Cook Time3 mins Total Time13 mins Course: Side Cuisine: American Servings: 4 servings Calories: 35kcal Author: Jessica Gavin
Nutrition Facts How to Cook Green Beans Amount Per Serving Calories 35 Calories from Fat 1 % Daily Value* Fat 0.1g0% Saturated Fat 0.03g0% Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1g Monounsaturated Fat 0.01g Sodium 307mg13% Potassium 237mg7% Carbohydrates 8g3% Fiber 4g16% Sugar 2g2% Protein 2g4% Vitamin A 750IU15% Vitamin C 25.6mg31% Calcium 40mg4% Iron 1.1mg6% * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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What to do with Overgrown Green Beans
It happens to even the most savvy gardener. You go out of town on vacation and when you return, there are beans…lots of beans. Not just any beans, overripe beans. Tough, fibrous, partially mature beans that are still green. What to do? We’re exploring the possibilities.
When are green beans overripe?
It’s pretty easy to tell when green beans have gone too far. You can see the outline of individual seeds bulging inside the pod. The pods themselves will be fibrous and difficult to chew. Sugars will have turned to starch at this point as well. But all is not lost.
We did a quick search on the interwebs to find suggestions from other gardeners with the same problem. Several people recommended “shelly beans.” What are shelly beans? It’s when you shell the green beans and cook the seeds. Supposedly it’s a great use for beans that are too tough to eat, but not dry enough to store for soup later on. Okay, we’ll try that.
We began the process by peeling open each pod and separating out the beans. Let me say, this is no easy task. I’m still searching for the trick to zip open a tough pod with one quick flick of the wrist or something magical like that. So far, no luck. Do this while watching a movie. And of course, many hands make light work.
We still have a ways to go to shell the rest of the beans, but you get the idea. Suggestions for cooking hovered mostly around the idea of boiling them in water or broth for about 20 minutes and then further cooking them in a little butter and garlic. Here’s a recipe we found on a forum from DigDirt2 in Arkansas:
“For a side dish, boiling them for 20-30 min. until fork tender in a broth with added ingredients such as onions, garlic, peppers, and other seasonings is a common method of preparing them down south. They can also be baked, added to soups and stews, etc. They can be used in jambalaya and other creole recipes, a dish called Hoppin’ John (a personal favorite), dirty rice recipes, and even mashed and used like refried beans.”
So as soon as we shell the rest of these beans, that’s what we’ll be doing. We’ll let you know how it comes out. In the meanwhile, if anyone has tricks for shelling quickly we’d love to hear your ideas. Post a comment below.
It’s 76 degrees outside. OMG. What a day, and on February 1. Guess that means it’s time to take down the Christmas decorations.
At this time of year, my husband always reminds me of when we first started dating. I was living in a studio in Manhattan, a perfectly adorable space with a tiny separate kitchen and a brick wall (you have to live in NYC for a time before you understand the excitement of having a separate kitchen and a brick wall inside your apartment). In any case, it was February, nearing Valentine’s Day, and I asked if he could do me a favor.
“Sure,” he said. He was in love.
“I need you to help me take out my Christmas tree.” I was desperate.
“Your Christmas tree? Lee, it’s the middle of February,” he said.
“I took all the ornaments off, but it’s a little prickly, so I need some help.”
It was truly painful, but eventually we got it down the two flights of stairs and out to the curb. And every year since we’ve been married, he reminds me of that poor, prickly tree, and insists we take ours down by January 1.
But I love Christmas decorations; left to my own devices, I’d have those little twinkly lights up all year round. They just make me feel, well, twinkly. So I leave them up for all of January, along with various wreaths, and, okay, a few other festive odds and ends, and reluctantly take everything down at the end of the month. It’s easier to wrap my mind around the task when it’s 76 degrees out.
And now I’m going out to the store for some green beans. I came across a piece in a promo for Cook’s Illustrated, about what to do when you can no longer get those tender and delectable haricots verts, when all that’s available are the oversized, tougher versions. The answer is that you roast them.
I was doubtful, having too often bitten into the mature green beans, only to chew for a few seconds and then look around for a paper napkin so I could spit them out. But the Cook’s people sounded sure of themselves, and I was feeling really tired of broccoli and asparagus (yes, even asparagus), so I bought those big, fat, supermarket green beans. And was completely amazed. I got a half pound for the two of us for dinner, and they disappeared before I could get a third helping. Yup. Thirds.
So here it is, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
Roasted Sesame Green Beans
1 pound green beans, stem ends snapped off
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
Heat oven to 450º.
Spread beans in a single layer on a large, rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle them with oil. Using your hands, toss the beans to coat evenly with the oil. Sprinkle the beans with salt and pepper, and roast in the center of the oven for 10 minutes.
While the beans are roasting, mix together the garlic, ginger, honey, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes in a shallow bowl.
Remove the beans from the oven, and using tongs, toss the beans in the garlic/ginger/etc. mix to coat them evenly. Resume roasting until the beans are golden brown in spots and starting to shrivel, another 10-12 minutes. While the beans are in the second round of roasting, toast the sesame seeds on the stovetop in a dry frying pan, with medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally. This will take about 5 minutes, or until the seeds brown and become fragrant.
Adjust seasoning with salt, and toss the beans well again, to get all that good garlic/ginger incorporated. Transfer the beans to a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds.
Green beans are one of the easiest things to grow in your summer garden, but for some reason mine rarely do well. I’ll be honest. I generally am. 🙂
I just don’t pay much attention to them, as my heart is so wound up in my heirloom tomatoes and my herbs and my preternaturally large basil patch (but have you ever smelled licorice basil? It’s worth at least a bushel of green beans, that smell alone) and I pick enough for a “mess of beans” (like my Grandma used to say) with one meal or perhaps two (“ah, the cleverness of me!” I sing, as I serve those first beans and blushingly admit that yes, they are from my garden) and then the next time I look at them, the plants in the garden, that is, the plants have collapsed and the last batch of beans has gotten so big that the plants obviously have decided that Their Work On Earth Is Done. They are slack-jawed and crumpled on the ground. Yellowed. Wrinkled and spent. Defeated by their children. Like a poor woman I see occasionally in the mirror, as a matter of fact. They’ve produced kin, basically, so they’re done.
Hmph. The fickleness of bean plants. They do not give even the most well-intentioned gardener a second chance. Oh, wait. That would make a terrific (or, at least a confusing) tweet, would it not? In contrast, consider your basic tomato plant: say you have a very busy week, with company in the house, and then you get sick on top of it, and you don’t pick tomatoes. For an entire week. Hypothetically speaking. When you finally drag out to the tomato patch, pale and wan, but determined, the plants have been merrily producing one tomato after another, and you can still pick them and eat them, or use them, or can them, or make salsa with them, or whatever. Sure, there will be a few overripe fruits that you’ll need to throw to the chickens, but so what? The plant doesn’t just give up on you and collapse and die, for Pete’s sake.
Not so bean plants.
But. All is not lost in the bean department, because our farmer’s market is rife with beans for sale, and lucky me (moi le chance, for those of you–Amalia–who want to learn a bit of French) that our next-table-vendor-neighbor, Erin, always has bags of green beans at the end of market that she is happy to trade for baguettes. I think I’m the lucky one–I know how much work it takes to keep green bean plants alive, after all–and she makes all the motions of believing that she is the lucky one. So we both leave market smug and feeling blessed.
It’s pretty sweet, actually.
But much easier than growing green beans (and now that I’ve written all that down, I am determined to not fail my bean rows next year. Really. Who can’t grow green beans?? I’m losing all my self respect here!) is the actual cooking of green beans. But so many people do it wrong, and the green beans are not what they could be.
Years ago, in a favorite old cookbook, I learned that the following method is how fine restaurants prepare fresh beans, and I quickly adopted it as my own. Indeed, since I rarely set foot in a fine restaurant, at least I can eat beans the way fine restaurant-goers eat them, and that is a small consolation, after all.
First, though, this is what they look like: bright green, alert, tender-crisp, and absolutely perfect. Now think of the last time you ate green beans: did they look like this? If not, you got gipped, baby.
I made these green beans just a day or two ago, and my family ate an entire pot full of them, exclaiming in delight at their deliciousness. It was like they’d never eaten fresh green beans before, which I know isn’t the case. They were–and are–so delicious, prepared this way!
And this is how to make them: and yes, so easy that an infant (practically) could do it.
- Pick and clean your green beans (snapping off the stems).
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 1 Tb to the water. (The salt sets the green color, but don’t be alarmed: you’re going to rinse it off.)
- Bring salted water to a rolling boil, put in fresh beans and cook until just tender-crisp (1 to 2 minutes).
- Drain beans in a colander and cool right away under very cold running water.
- Drain on paper towels.
- Eat in salads, or reheat them thoroughly with butter, herbs, and/or freshly ground salt and pepper, or a dab of coconut oil and herbs.
That’s it! Perfection and ease in one simple dish. Now . . . do you have some green beans that you’d trade for a baguette?
By . . . the . . . way . . . did you know that the gallons of Gold Medal Virgin Coconut Oil (the good stuff!) from Tropical Traditions are on sale through this Thursday, September 4? They are 50% off, and this is when I always stock up on this great stuff! That brings the cost of a gallon down to $59.00, which isn’t bad at all. This organic virgin coconut oil is rich in antioxidants, and I use it in so many recipes now without even thinking. I drink it every day in my bulletproof(ish) coffee, also occasionally in my afternoon iced bulletproof coffee, and for popping popcorn, sauteing vegetables, roasting root veggies, and so much more. You can learn lots more about incorporating this healthy fat right here. It’s a big deal, coconut oil is.
If you click on the link below, it’ll take you straight to the Tropical Traditions website, where you’ll learn even more. Also. If you decide to take advantage of the 50% off sale, and buy something, and if you’re a first-time customer, they’ll send you a free book all about coconut oil (with recipes!) and I’ll earn a coupon for being the link, so to speak. So. . . win-win!
Click here for the “Good Stuff”!
Also. . . I’m linking up this post with the nice folks over at The Prairie Homestead because it’s Monday, and they have a fun event over there today . . . the Barn Hop! Come on over, ya’all!
One more thing. . . I did a second fall gardening seeds giveaway and I wrote about it right here. If you’re putting a fall garden in, or even just a few rows of this or that, do enter . . . it’ll end tomorrow (Tuesday) at midnight though, so don’t put it off!
I’m linking this post up with the nice folks at The Prairie Homestead and the Home Matters linky party. Come check them out and learn something new!
How to Cook Fresh Green Beans
Pictured Recipe: Vegan Green Bean Casserole
While one of the most iconic uses for the ever-popular green bean is in a creamy casserole at the holidays, fresh beans purchased in-season at your local market can’t be beat. (Fun fact: even dogs can enjoy the deliciousness of green beans). Also called snap beans or string beans, green beans actually come in a range of colors, from green to yellow to purple. When a recipe calls for green beans, most likely it means the ones that are green in color – although any color will work.
“Haricots verts” is simply French for “green beans.” However, the term is often used for the very slender beans, also called French beans (not to be confused with frozen french-cut green beans), found in the produce section of many large supermarkets. Contrary to what many think, green beans are technically legumes because their fruit grows in a pod, whereas beans usually refer to the whole plant.
It’s easy to add beautiful color to a dish with green beans. Toss green beans with pasta for an easy hot or cold supper. Or simply sauté some garden-fresh green beans with garlic for an easy, healthy side dish to serve with your favorite grilled meats. Whether you grow your own or buy them at the store or farmers’ market, you can learn simple ways to cook green beans and enjoy their incomparable flavor.
Green Bean Nutrition
Green beans are a tasty, low-calorie and nutrient-rich vegetable. A 1-cup serving of cooked green beans delivers 4 grams of fiber and 14 percent of the Daily Value for both vitamin C and folate, a B vitamin important for the healthy growth of new cells. Green beans are also a top source of silicon, a mineral that is critical for strong bones.
The nutrients in 1 cup of cooked green beans are as follows:
- Calories 44
- Fat 0g (sat 0g)
- Cholesterol 0mg
- Carbs 10g
- Total sugars 5g (added 0g)
- Fiber 4g
- Protein 2g
- Sodium 1mg
- Potassium 182mg.
Related: All the Green Bean Recipes You Need
How to Prep & Cut Fresh Green Beans
Cut off the stem ends. The most efficient way to do this is to line them up on a cutting board and do several at once. If they are curvy, cut or snip them individually; rinse in cool water. Small beans are most aesthetically pleasing left whole; larger beans can be cut into desired lengths.
Five Simple Ways to Cook Green Beans
Cooked green beans need only a little butter and salt, but they can be made even more delicious with flavor enhancements, including other vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions and corn; crisp-cooked bacon; toasted walnuts or almonds; lemon; sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds; and herbs such as tarragon, dill and chives.
1. How to Sauté Green Beans
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 minced shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1 pound trimmed green beans and cook, stirring often, until browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water. Cover; reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
2. How to Roast Green Beans
Toss 1 pound trimmed green beans with 1 tablespoon olive oil on a large rimmed baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 450°F oven, stirring once, until tender and browned in spots, 25 to 35 minutes. Serves 4.
3. How to Steam Green Beans
Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add 1 pound trimmed green beans. Cover; cook until tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
4. How to Microwave Green Beans
Place 1 pound trimmed green beans in a large microwave-safe casserole with 2 tablespoons water. Cover and cook on High until tender-crisp, stirring once, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
5. How to Boil Green Beans
Cook 1 pound trimmed green beans in a large pot of boiling water until tender-crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
How to Shop for Fresh Green Beans
Green beans should snap. Avoid limp or flabby beans that do not break with a crisp sound. Avoid any beans that have brownish scars. The best green beans are small, thin and firm. The peak season for green beans is July to September, but you can find fresh green beans year-round.
If it’s out of season or you want to save money, frozen green beans are great convenience item to keep in your freezer for quick and easy cooking. Frozen green beans are nutritious because they’re picked at the peak of ripeness and then frozen to seal in their nutrients. And, most of them don’t have added sodium like some canned vegetables do.
How to Store Fresh Green Beans
Wrap fresh green beans in dry paper towels or a brown paper bag. Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Watch: How to Cook Fresh Green Beans 4 Ways