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Green Beans

Everyday Food, Volume 23 June 2005

Available year-round, these fresh legumes are at their peak during the summer. Use them to add crunch and color to salads and stir-fries.

What Are They?
Also called string beans, green beans are made up of small seeds encased in long pods. Because they are harvested while still young, the pods are tender and edible (unlike limas and other mature beans, which must be shelled before eating).

What to Look For
It's best to buy green beans that are sold loose rather than in packages so you can pick the freshest ones. They should be crisp and bright green, without blemishes or signs of wilting. For even cooking, choose beans that are of equal size.

How to Store Them
Although they taste best if used right away, green beans can be refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag for up to five days.

Nutritional Value
Green beans are a good source of fiber, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. They also have a fair amount of iron and potassium.

Using Them in Recipes
They should be cooked just until tender and vibrant green. For many recipes, you can prepare them ahead to save time: Cook the beans in a pot of boiling salted water, then plunge the beans into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once completely cool, drain well, then refrigerate in an airtight container, up to overnight.

Before Cooking
Rinse the beans under cold water, then trim the stem end by snapping it off with your fingers or cutting with a paring knife. You can trim the other end if you like, but it's not necessary.