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A wealth of healthy serving options

Fresh green beans are one of the taste treats of summer. Early in the season, while they’re still young and tender, you’ll want to add them to salads and serve them as antipasti as well as serving them as a side dish with meat, fish or an omelette. Later, when they’re bigger, they can feature in soups or stews. Cook them in a wok or steam them gently and serve them with pasta or in a risotto. Wrap several beans, steamed but still crisp, in bacon and fry the package. Or stew them gently in butter with onion, garlic and thyme. Green beans are low calorie, but rich in roughage, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, and vitamins C and B.

Cooking green beans

There’s nothing difficult about cooking with green beans, whether runner beans or French beans. Cut or snap off both ends. If you’re using runner beans pull off the thread on each side; for round French beans this won’t be necessary. If the beans are tiny and young, cook them whole, otherwise cut them into bite-sized lengths. Drop them into a little boiling salted water and boil them about 10 to 15 minutes. Take them out while they are still fairly firm. Boiling destroys the protein phasin, which might otherwise cause stomach problems. Phasin is the reason why you shouldn’t eat beans raw. A teaspoon of baking soda or baking powder in the cooking water will keep them looking very green, but some people maintain that this destroys nutrients. A little butter or olive oil added after you’ve drained the beans will improve the flavour and spices like caraway seeds, coriander or savoury will make them easier to digest.

Origins, buying and quality features

The term “green beans” covers many varieties of cultivars all of which come from beans that grow wild in Central and South America. These include princess beans, Kenya beans, runner and French beans. In Germany or the UK, The season for locally grown beans runs from May to October. The rest of the year a quick check on the package will tell you where they’ve been flown in from. Naturally, you can buy frozen or canned beans at any time of the year. If you’re shopping for fresh beans, look for intense green colour and firm, plump looking beans. Avoid beans that are too big, they could well be stringy and tasteless. Don’t keep them for any longer than a couple of days in your fridge.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de