Most people are used to bland canned or frozen green beans from the grocery store that are basically season, heat, and eat. Fresh green beans take a little more effort, but are more than worth the extra time. The best way is to have a friend with you as it does get monotonous.
First step is to pick the green beans. Pick your plants heavy and often and they will keep producing, all season. Before you know it you’ll be wondering when the freeze is going to kill them out!
Next, sort the beans, pick the tender, young pods free of rust for yourself and give the big fibrous ones that you missed last picking to the hogs, worm bed, chickens, or wildlife.
Third, string them if they are a string variety. Did you know the first stringless green bean was named ‘lazy housewife’ ? You want to pick the strings from all four ‘corners’ of the bean removing as much as you can. I hear a green bean frencher makes this job a breeze, but then they are all french-style. I’m sure I’ll try one day, but so many gadgets, so little time. Then you snap them into bite size pieces or leave whole for other dishes. Give the ends of the beans to the critters also.
Fourth, Cook them in a bit of fat, liquid, seasoning. My favorite fats are extra-virgin olive oil, butter, and pork drippings (and add the meat back toward the end if available). I like my liquid to be broth and a splash of dry wine in the end. You can season with sauteed garlic and onions (if so do this in the beginning before you add your beans and liquid) or the convenient route- garlic and onion powder. Salt and pepper of course, and some herbs out of the garden the last 5 minutes of cooking time. Different beans have varying cooking times and preference for eating. Tender yellow bush beans only need a quick steam, a drizzle of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and olive oil to make for a delicious side. Pole beans often need 20 -40 minutes to cook down and become tender. This property makes them more suitable for canning. Adding tomatoes, squash, and mushrooms during the cooking will make a meal out of your green beans. Play with the recipe, taste test often. You will have you feel for bean snapping and cooking in no time. And the plant will give you plenty of beans to experiment!
Last, Eat them!!!
Here’s a heartier, soupy version I made after working in the garden all day. The liquid is chicken broth, tomatoes, and maitake mushrooms cooked down with some fresh herbs (lemon thyme, parsley, and basil) powdered garlic and onion. Add parmiggiano reggiano for a rich treat. Olive oil and butter bring out the flavors and make the nutrients more bioavailable. These pole beans, a mixture of kentucky wonder and bush blue lake, took about 20 minutes at low-medium to cook down to my desired tenderness.
Savor your bounty, you earned it.