NORWAY — Fresh green beans from the garden or the farmers market are yummy. They are the best to prepare and serve in many recipes, as a side dish or even to eat raw and crunchy. Green beans are the most well known in the snap bean family, but they also come in purple or yellow.
Green beans can be stored in the refrigerator, but do best at high humidity. Use a plastic bag or a vegetable crisper in the refrigerator to keep the humidity high. Use fresh green beans within 3 to 5 days for optimal freshness. Choose young tender pods for the best quality. Always wash the beans before using with cold running water.
Usually green beans are cut into 2 to 4 inch lengths and the ends are trimmed off before cooking. They can be used in a variety of ways:
1. Green beans are good in soups and stews. They can be added when the soup is assembled or if you like a crunchier texture to the beans, add about 10 minutes before the soup or stew is done.
2. Cook the green beans on the stove or in the microwave and use as a side dish. Cook the beans in a small amount of water in a sauce pan. Boil the beans for about 6 to 8 minutes until desired tenderness. To cook in the microwave, place in a microwave safe bowl, add a small amount of water (about 1/2 cup of water). Cover and microwave about 3 to 5 minutes until crisp tender.
3. Green beans make a tasty addition to stir fry vegetables. Add the cut pieces of green beans to the pan when other vegetables with similar cooking times are added, such as broccoli and cauliflower. Stir fry until tender crisp.
4. They can also be used in casseroles. Green bean casserole is a favorite side dish for holidays such as Thanksgiving. But there are many other options including just adding green beans to your favorite casserole dish.
5. Green beans can be canned. They must be pressure canned, as they are a low-acid vegetable. The National Home Food Preservation center has directions for pressure canning snap beans.
6. Green beans can also be pickled. When the beans are pickled, acid (vinegar) is added that allows the pickled beans to be processed in a water bath canner. Pickled dilled beans or “dilly beans” are a popular way to pickle green beans.
7. It’s easy to freeze green beans for later. Michigan State University Extension (msue.msu.edu) recommends blanching all snap beans before freezing to prevent unwanted changes in texture and color during freezer storage. Blanching is a process of cooking in boiling water for a short period of time (3 minutes for green beans) and then rapidly cooling in ice water for the same amount of time before draining and freezing the beans.
Now is the time to enjoy some fresh green beans or to preserve them for later.
For more information on using, storing and preserving green beans, go to the Michigan Fresh website http://msue.anr.msu.edu/program/info/mi_fresh) or contact Beth Waitrovich at the Michigan State University Extension office at 906-774-0363.