Sometimes it takes a widespread “cultural miracle” to make many of us get excited about something which has been with us since before the 16th century. Case in point, green beans, (a.k.a. string beans, snap beans, French beans and haricots.)
In the case of a cultural miracle for green bean popularity, it was a Dorcas Reilly who was responsible for the green bean’s most revolutionary turn-around to date. As a test kitchen employee for the Campbell Soup Company in 1955, her goal was to dress up green beans with basic kitchen items and make them more popular. Well. She sure did! Though it has been modified almost everywhere, Reilly’s original recipe called for green beans, cream of mushroom soup, French fried onions, milk, soy sauce and ground black pepper. Green beans were miraculously deliciously gooey, and they had a fun crunch!
Think about the structure of a green bean. It is a tender pod surrounding its seeds or beans, right? This is because green beans are always picked before full ripeness on their vine and their shells are edible and tender. Fresh green beans are marketed fresh, frozen and canned. Beans left lots longer on their vine turn up without their pod, dried and in plastic bags.
The “string,” once found as part of string bean pods, was always unpleasant if not removed. Happily, the string has been “bred out,” is no more, and all it now takes is a brisk snap, and they are ready for cooking. It is unwise to eat raw green beans due to phytic acid in them which cooks out.
Green beans are said to oridinate in Europe around the 14th century and were grown for their flowers, not as a food.
Grown pretty-well worldwide, find green beans as a crop in South America, Central America, Mexico, Asia, Africa, Europe as well as the U.S.
Green beans are rich in vitamin C, B6, K and antioxidants.
Choose fresh green bean which are bright green and make a snapping noise when broken. Make sure they lack bruises or any spots. They will keep well for a week in a plastic bag in your crisper section. Do not wash green beans until ready to cook them.
Plan to keep frozen green beans no longer than 3 months.
Serve green beans as you would any other vegetable. They are often steamed for 5 minutes, boiled, stir-fried, batter-fried or baked in casseroles.
Green beans are a classic ingredient in Salad Nicoise, a French cold salad dish that combines steamed green beans, hard-cooked eggs, anchovy, tuna fish and potatoes.
Below are foodsites with suggestions for preparing green beans.