Beans (edible pods)
These may be green, purple or yellow in color. They should have no scars or discolorization. When broken, they should have a crisp snap. Available year round, but are best from May through August. Store without slicing and refrigerate to retain vitamin content. Do not soak in water.
- Chinese long beans.
- Italian beans.
- Snap beans.
- Purple wax beans.
- Haricots verts.
- Scarlet runners.
Higher in vitamin C than snap beans varieties. Varieties include cranberry beans, fava beans, and lima beans.
Shell beans should have a bulge and a tightly closed pod. If the pods are not opened they should last for two to three days.
Pods should be dark green and bright in color. Best May through October. When shelled, should appear green or greenish white. Very perishable and should be used as soon as purchased.
Pinto beans should have a bright uniform color. Fading is a sign of aging and long storage. Small beans cook faster and should not be mixed with large ones or they will get mushy. Do not buy if they are cracked or if too much foreign material is found in the bin, especially small stones.
Quick Bean Facts
- Snap beans are found in green and yellow varieties.
- Purple wax beans turn green when cooked.
- Haricot verts are also called French Beans.
- Chinese long beans may be up to 18 inches long.
- Cooked beans will stay fresh in the refrigerator for approximately five days.
- For a different taste, add celery soup to the green beans.
- Boiling whole green beans instead of cut up ones will retain 50 percent more of the nutrients.
- Chickpeas have the most calories; however, beans for the most part are low in calories and contain hardly any fat. The only exception is soybeans which are high in polyunsaturated fat.
- Beans contain 22 percent protein. Beef contains only 18 percent and eggs 13 percent protein.
- To prevent beans from becoming mushy, try adding a small amount of baking soda to the water while they are cooking.
- Cooked beans will store for up to six months in the freezer, but only four to six days in the refrigerator.
- If beans get too salty, try using a small amount of brown sugar.
- You can also eliminate gas producing from beans by adding a teaspoon of fennel seed to the water you soak the beans in.
- To eliminate gas in beans, try using Beano. It really works! It neutralizes the sugar in the beans that cause gas production in your body.
Beans are one of the best sources of protein. The following gives their quality of nutritional content on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best.
- Kidney beans: 10
- Navy beans: 9
- Lima beans: 8.5
- Tofu: 4.0
- Lentils: 7.0
- Chickpeas: 6.5
- Split peas: 5.5
Miscellany Bean Facts
- The screw bean grows pods that look like spirally twisted wire.
- The four most prominent families in ancient Rome - Lentulus, Fabius, Ciceros and Piso - named themselves after beans. Lentulus means lentils. Fabius means favas. Ciceros means chickpeas. Pisos means peas.
- The asparagus bean can grow bean pods up to three feet long.
- The ancient Greeks and Romans used beans to cast their votes in political elections and legal trials.
- In the sixteenth century, peasants in England relied on dried peas to survive a famine.
- In the seventeenth century, people incorrectly believed that eating beans cured baldness.
- During World War II, the United States Army floated waterproof bags filled with beans from ships to beachheads to feed American troops.
- Soy beans, a mainstay of Asian cuisine, are the beans processed into bean curd, better known as tofu.
Bean Snack: Oregano Roasted Fava Beans
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or with parchment paper. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl, toss well and spill onto the baking sheet. Bake until they are just starting to color and are dried out, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
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