Green beans are the unripe, young fruit and protective pods of various cultivars of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). Immature or young pods of the runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus), yardlong bean (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis), and hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) are used in a similar way. Green beans are known by many common names, including French beans, string beans, snap beans, and snaps.
They are distinguished from the many differing varieties of beans in that green beans are harvested and consumed with their enclosing pods, typically before the seeds inside have fully matured. This practice is analogous to the harvesting of unripened pea pods as snow peas or sugar snap peas.
Nutrition and culinary use
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||131 kJ (31 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.7 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
In the past, bean pods often contained a "string", a hard fibrous strand running the length of the pod. This was removed before cooking, or made edible by cutting the pod into short segments. Modern, commercially grown green bean varieties lack strings.
Green beans are eaten around the world, and are marketed canned, frozen, and fresh. Green beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. A dish with green beans popular throughout the United States, particularly at Thanksgiving, is green bean casserole, which consists of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French fried onions.
Some US restaurants serve green beans that are battered and fried, and some Japanese restaurants serve green bean tempura. Green beans are also sold dried, and fried with vegetables such as carrots, corn, and peas, as vegetable chips.
The first "stringless" bean was bred in 1894 by Calvin Keeney, called the "father of the stringless bean", while working in Le Roy, New York. Most modern green bean varieties do not have strings.
- Bush beans are short plants, growing to not more than 2 feet (61 cm) in height, often without requiring supports. They generally reach maturity and produce all of their fruit in a relatively short period of time, then cease to produce. Due to this concentrated production and ease of mechanized harvesting, bush-type beans are those most often grown on commercial farms. Bush green beans are usually cultivars of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris).
- Pole beans have a climbing habit and produce a twisting vine, which must be supported by "poles", trellises, or other means. Pole beans may be common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) or yardlong beans (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis).
Over 130 varieties of green bean are known. Varieties specialized for use as green beans, selected for the succulence and flavor of their pods, are the ones usually grown in the home vegetable garden, and many varieties exist. Pod color can be green, purple, red, or streaked. Shapes range from thin "fillet" types to wide "romano" types and more common types in between. Yellow-podded green beans are also known as wax beans.
All of the following varieties have green pods and are Phaseolus vulgaris, unless otherwise specified:
Bush (dwarf) types
- Blue Lake 274
- Bush Kentucky Wonder
- Derby (1990 AAS winner)
- Kenyan Bean
- Purple Teepee (purple pods)
Pole (climbing) types
- Blue Lake
- Golden Gate (yellow/wax)
- Kentucky Blue (AAS Winner)
- Kentucky Wonder
- Scarlet Runner (Phaseolus coccineus)
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