Fresh Green Beans and Shell Beans?>

Fresh Green Beans and Shell Beans

by Berkeley Wellness

Of the many types of beans that we eat, only a few varieties are eaten fresh. These fresh beans—usually green beans—aren’t a distinct species, but are simply picked at an immature stage when the inner seeds have just started to form. If left in the pod, these seeds would eventually grow to full size and dry in the pod. Though they belong to a number of plant species, all beans are legumes. Fresh beans can be classified into two broad categories: edible-pod beans and shell beans. The fact that we call these beans “fresh,” by the way, doesn’t mean they are always marketed fresh. Americans eat the bulk of their “fresh beans” in canned or frozen form.

Types of Fresh Beans

There are two main types of fresh beans. Green beans, snap beans, and string beans are the prime examples of edible-pod beans, which are eaten in their entirety, pod and all. Shell beans are beans allowed to grow larger so they have bigger seeds. Edamame, lima beans, and fava beans are

Fresh beans: Nutrition

Edible-pod beans such as green beans, Chinese long beans, and wax beans are immature pods, and they contain the type of nutrients that are associated with fresh plants: beta carotenes, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C. Green beans also contain folate. They are low in calories and rich in fiber and carbohydrates.

Shell beans have more calories than edible-pod beans. Most shell beans offer protein, B vitamins, iron, and fiber, especially soluble fiber. Fresh soybeans (edamame) tend to have more fat than other beans, and they are especially nutrient-dense. All shell beans are good plant sources of protein. Soybeans, however, contain what is called “complete protein.” This means that soybeans have adequate proportions of all nine essential amino acids (EAAs) to meet human dietary needs. Soybeans can offer important nutrition to vegetarians who don’t get protein from meat.

For a full listing of nutrients, see Green Beans, Fava Beans, Lima Beans, and Edamame in the National Nutrient Database.

How to Choose the Best Fresh Beans

The best way to choose fresh beans is at a market that sells them loose so you can pick out pods of equal size (for uniform cooking).Snap beans, when broken, should snap crisply (although the very thin haricots verts are not as crisp). If edible-pod beans are very stiff, or the

How to use fresh beans

Wash edible-pod beans, then snap or trim both ends of each bean, and if there is a string, pull it down the length of the bean to remove. Leave the beans whole for cooking or cut them crosswise or diagonally into 1- to 2-inch lengths.

If green beans are older and tougher, you can slice them lengthwise into thin slices, called “French style.” Don’t do this with young crisp beans because it allows their sweet flavor to cook out.

To remove shell beans from the pod, split the pod open and push out the beans with your thumb. Rinse the shelled beans before cooking. It may be easier to open the pod if you shave the seam of the curved side with a paring knife or vegetable peeler.

Large fava beans not only need to be shelled, but their tough skins must be peeled either before or after cooking; small, young favas need not be skinned. To peel the raw beans, split the skin with your thumbnail or a sharp paring knife. The skins of blanched or cooked favas will slip off easily.

To freeze fresh green beans, trim the ends, and blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Cool the beans quickly by putting them in a bowl of ice water. Drain and pack the beans into freezer bags or containers.

To pickle fresh green beans, trim the ends and place the beans standing up in a mason jar. Pour in a mixture of equal parts distilled vinegar and water, with salt to taste. Top with a clove of garlic, a sprig of dill and some red pepper flakes. Cook the closed jars in a canner, per the canning directions. You’ll find many recipes online.

See also: Beans and Gas.

8 Ways to Serve Fresh Beans

Fresh beans add delicious nutrition to many recipes. Many people boil fresh green beans, but you lose nutrients in the water. Here are eight other ways to prepare fresh beans.Toss snap beans with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in the oven or grill on the barbecue.Steam shell

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