Beans can be confusing: beans, legumes, peas, lentils. They can be divided into two main groups, those that can be eaten pod and all, called snap or green beans, and others that are shelled for their seeds and eaten either fresh, dried, called shell or dried beans. Green beans, not always green, are the unripe, immature pods of the most tender bean varieties, and are entirely edible.
Green beans, also called snap beans because of the sound their pods make when broken, are called string beans if they have a fibrous string that runs down the side. Most of our green beans today are string-less. There are dozens of varieties of green beans and are the most commonly planted type of beans: haricot vert, scarlet runner, winged, and yard-long. Green beans are not always green; they can also be yellow or purple. Yellow beans are sometimes called wax beans for their waxy color.
One cup of beans has only 31 calories. They are high in vitamins A and C and a cup of raw snap beans can provide about 17 percent of the daily requirement of vitamin A and about 27 percent of vitamin C. Snap beans are a very rich source of dietary fiber and many minerals. Beans can reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes. They also contain catechins, also found in green tea, which help reduce body fat.
Beans can be stored for 3-5 days, fresh, whole, unwashed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, preferably in a crisper drawer.
How to prepare them? Always thoroughly wash your produce with a veggie spray or wash, or with a white vinegar and water solution. Trim the beans by snapping off the stem of string-less beans, quicker yet, bundle them and trim all at once using a Chef's knife. There is no need to cut the curled end. Your beans are now ready be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, blanched is my favorite way, with olive oil and fresh garlic. You can add beans to just about anything and chopping them gives them more versatility.
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