How To Cook Perfect Green Beans

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Green beans are available year round, with a peak season of May to October. Green beans are also called string beans and snap beans. Green beans were once called string beans.
Today's green beans have no strings.

Don't forget to check out What's Cooking America's fantastic Green Beans recipes.

Fresh Green Beans

Cleaning and Preparing Fresh Green Beans:

Wash fresh green beans thoroughly in clear, cool water. Lift beans from the wash water and leave garden debris behind. Rinse again.

Break off the end (the top and tail) as you wash them. Leave whole or cut into desired lengths. Beans can be cooked whole, cut crosswise, diagonally or French-cut. If you want sweet tasting, crisp fresh beans, cut them as little as possible. Cut older, more mature beans in the French style. Make sure all the pieces are similar in length so they cook evenly.

Cooking Fresh Green Beans:

Boiling, steaming, or microwaving are popular ways to prepare fresh green beans. Stir-frying preserves the best qualities of the fresh green bean. Whatever cooking method you choose, remember to cook fresh green beans as little as possible using the smallest amount of water as possible. The fewer beans in the pan, the quicker they cook and the better they taste. If cooking more than one pound of green beans at a time, use separate pans.

Important To Remember: The beans will continue to cook after you remove them from the heat source. Either take them out just before they are cooked the way you like or plunge them in ice water immediately to stop the cooking process.

Boiling or Blanching Green Beans:

Definition of Blanching: This term means to plunge foods into boiling water for a few seconds or a few minutes, then remove and place in ice water. This process sets the color of vegetables. The green beans do not cook all the way through, so crisp texture is preserved.

How To Blanch Green Beans: In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water to a gentle boil. Add trimmed green beans and cook, uncovered, 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender (you may need to experiment with the degree of doneness you like). Immediately drain the green beans in a colander and plunge them into ice cold water to bring the temperature down. A rule of thumb is the beans should spend as much time in the cold water as in the hot. You can also use a steamer basket.

Steaming Green Beans:

Definition of Steaming: The fresh green beans are cooked by the heat of steam from boiling water.

How To Steam Green Beans: To steam green beans, set a steamer basket with the green beans into a saucepan just large enough to hold it tightly covered. Add one-inch of water, bring to the boil, and cover the pan tightly. Regulate heat to moderate. Green beans will take only 3 to 5 minutes.

Microwave Green Beans:

How To Microwave Green Beans: Place prepared bean in a microwave-safe bowl. Add approximately 2 tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a small corner open. NOTE: If you seal them completely, the plastic wrap will almost shrink-wrap itself to the beans. Microwave on high for approximately 3 to 4 minutes (you might need to experiment to get the beans done to your liking). It is more difficult to get green beans cooked to a precise and even level of doneness when microwaving.

Cooking Green Beans Ahead-of-Time:

Green beans may be cooked several hours in advance. To keep their freshly-cooked taste, once cooked to your liking, dry them thoroughly in clean towels and then refrigerate them in a covered bowl.

Will keep for about 4 days, wrapped in plastic bag or wrap, refrigerated.

Freezing Green Beans:

To freeze green beans, wash, and cut ends. Beans can be frozen directly, or blanched for 3 minutes then submerged in ice water before freezing.

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