Also called snap beans, string beans, or runner beans, green beans can be eaten whole. Both the tender pod and the small seeds within have a mild, fresh, sweet taste. Green beans are at their best from early to mid-summer. They take well to a variety of cooking techniques from boiling to steaming, sautéing to deep-frying. Added to soups, they provide contrast and color to other vegetables. Green beans are ideal for canning and pickling. They are also excellent raw on crudités platters, in composed salads, or served alone, blanched, then chilled with vinaigrette.
Green beans should snap easily when broken. Choose beans that are a vibrant green color with velvety smooth pods and tips that have not been precut. They should be free from brown spots or bruises.
Green beans can be wrapped in paper towels and stored in a plastic bag for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. To prevent mold, leave the bag open for air circulation.
Rinse beans under cold running water. Snap off the pointy stem ends and remove any tough strings that run along the length of the bean. Green beans retain their color best when cooked whole at a high temperature for only a brief period of time. Lock in their color and crisp texture by refreshing in cold water immediately after cooking.