Beans – What To Look For

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Beans are grown around the world – snap beans, string beans, flat beans, shelling beans, baking beans and more…

With many types and over 150 different varieties, there’s a lot to choose from.

This month we focus on snap and filet beans.

What You Need To Know About Snap Beans

These beans are harvested in an immature state, ‘green’, yet not always green in colour. When left to mature the seeds get large and both seeds and pod dry out. The pods lose the ‘snap’ that indicates freshness of the immature bean pod.

You can find these snap beans in a variety of colours including, green, yellow, purple, pink and even bicoloured. If you come across some Wax Beans, they’re simply yellow snap beans.

This year, we’re growing green and yellow snap beans, as well as the bicoloured Dragon’s Tongue Beans.


Dragon's Tongue Beans photo
Bi-coloured Dragon’s Tongue beans

What to Look For When Selecting Snap Beans

As the name Snap Bean implies, the pod should pass the ‘snap test’.

To apply the snap test simply fold the pod flat side in. Press it over against itself, like folding paper to get a good crease. The pod should snap in two.

The fresh bean pods should be free of bruises, wrinkles and brown or black spots.

Most beans will develop a string along the back of the pod as it matures and dries out.

A type of snap bean, selected for low fibre and stringless pods is the filet bean. These have pods that are thinner and smoother to give a pod without the lumpiness that develops with larger seeds inside. These stringless pods can be enjoyed whole, raw or cooked.

Yet, many heirloom snap bean varieties are more richly flavoured. Most tend to get lumpy in appearance. Many, but not all, get ‘stringy’, while still immature as the seeds develop inside… so they may need to have the strings removed before cooking the whole pod.

Some varieties, like the Dragon’s Tongue beans we grow, taste great, have a nice buttery texture, yet are really lumpy in appearance! Yet, when picked at the right stage for snaps, they pass the ‘snap test’. You get a lumpy looking bean pod, yet stringless and delicious.

Regardless of the colour, you prepare them the same way. This makes is easy to mix the colours together to add visual interest to your favourite recipes. Just remember, that purple snap beans turn green when cooked and purple-yellow beans end up yellow.

Here’s what to do with snap beans when you get them home.


How You Can Keep Snap Beans Fresh

Keep the bean pods dry until you intend to use them, as wet or damp raw beans can mold quickly. Store them dry and cool in your refrigerator, if you’ll be using them within a few days.

Wash them with cold water just before using or preserving.

If you won’t be using them that soon, best to blanch and freeze or pickle them to enjoy later.


How to Blanche Snap Beans


  1. Bring a pot of water to boil, using enough water to cover the beans and not overcrowd them.
  2. add beans for 2-3 minutes
  3. remove the beans from the hot water. Put them in ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve the colour.
  4. Keep the green beans for 3 minutes in the ice-cold water, until beans are cool.
  5. Remove the beans from the water and let them drain.


How to Freeze Snap Beans


  1. Blanche the beans, as described above.
  2. Spread the beans on a cookie sheet and pat dry.
  3. Put the beans into freezer bags or other suitable containers and seal the air out.

They’ll store well for up to a year in the freezer. After that, the texture begins to change.

Fresh or from your freezer, here’s a quick way to prepare them.



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