2018-07-05 / From The Garden

A Bevy of Beans!

By Cynthia Gibson

Golden wax beans Golden wax beans When thinking of green beans, the ubiquitous green bean casserole for Thanksgiving dinner comes to mind. No more! This legume has become as “gourmet” as almost every other vegetable on the planet.

Green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They produce their own nitrogen, so fertilizing is not necessary. They thrive in garden soil, not potting soil, that is not pre-fertilized, along with a southern exposure. If you give your beans full sun they will reward you with buckets of beans.

This is usually a great time to scour your local nurseries for vegetable plants that are on sale. There are usually several green bean plants in the mix. It makes for a great treasure hunt, and a head start instead of planting from seed.

There are two types of green beans to grow, pole and bush. Bush beans can be planted as a bean and in 60 days you will have fresh green beans, so it is not too late to have a fresh vegetable added to your garden. One bush of green beans can produce up to 120 beans. The usual amount for a family of four is four to six plants or seeds.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Bush beans are compact plants that produce and produce. You will need to fence or net the plants as they are favorites of nibbling rabbits.

Bush bean varieties have changed. Previously, the only other color of the beans was yellow, which were called “wax” beans. The name was off-putting to many, so it has always been a “second best” bean. But the yellow beans are sweet and have bit more of an earthy taste, rather than the green grass flavor of a raw green bean.

Pick your green beans while they are a bit young. If you wait until you see the seeds bulging in the pods, it will be too late and they will be tough. You want the seeds inside of the pods to be almost flat. The more you pick; the more beans will set.

Green beans are versatile and are terrific right off the bush. They can be chilled and served as a healthy bite with cocktails, with no need for dip. When the beans are fresh from the garden, why disguise the fabulous taste with gob? Pickled with dill and hot peppers, you will have green beans with a kick and tang. They are so good and easy to make.

Fresh steamed green beans vinaigrette is a summertime favorite. The beans can be steamed or blanched in advance, with cooking time depending on how crunchy you want your beans. A simple vinaigrette or lemon vinaigrette are the best dressings for green beans.

Summer is not a great time to turn on your oven, so I would reserve baking your green beans until late August or if you have air-conditioning. Roll them in beaten raw egg, dip them in panko crust and bake them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Toss with salt and pepper and serve.

The best varieties to grow are: Bountiful, an early string-less, heirloom, producing, bush bean Golden Wax Bean, an easy producing, soft textured yellow, bush bean Royal Burgundy, which has purple pods that turn green when cooked. Eat them raw to keep the color; Triomphe de Farcy, a French haricot vert heirloom bush bean; Romano, a classic broad, Italian style green bean with meaty flavor.

Fresh beans have the unique and excellent taste of green bean. Spoil yourself and plant them. The green bean is a win-win summer vegetable.

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