In Praise of Green Beans


Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables.  I enjoy growing them and I enjoy eating them.

I grew up calling them snaps, but most folks around here call them string beans.  Interestingly, in the U.K. they’re called French beans, even though they originated in the New World.  The French call them haricots verts.

Green beans are a great homesteading vegetable. They’re prodigious producers.   Unlike drying beans, green beans are picked fresh and the plant will continue to generate new pods as long as they’re regularly picked.  The downside is that to put them away f0r winter they have to be frozen or canned (as opposed to just dried), but a small garden of them produces a lot of delicious and nutritious food.

I’ve never had a variety I didn’t like.  This year we’re growing Contender and Tenderette, but I’ve tried lots of different varieties over the years.  My favorite are bush Romas (pictured above). They’re a flat and very flavorful bean, good for cooking the old-fashioned way.

Picking them is time-consuming, but the rewards are worth it.  They only take about two months to reach maturity, so it’s possible for us to have multiple plantings in our warm weather growing season, which is almost six months long.

We’ll be selling them at the market this morning, and we’ll be eating them all summer.

They’re another one of the many dietary joys of summer.


16 comments on “In Praise of Green Beans

  1. Just learned that people use pods and off-cuts to flavour wine!


  2. shoreacres says:

    And here’s your musical association for the morning. “Zydeco” often is said to derive from les haricots verts , and the associated saying, “les haricots sont pas salés (roughly, the beans are not salty). There are other explanations, but my primary Louisiana connections swear by the green bean etymology. Here are a couple of great dancers “snapping beans” to the music of one of my favorites, Geno Delafose.


    • Bill says:

      Well, shut my mouth. Very cool. I’d never heard that before. I thought it came from something like “let the good times roll” in French. When your comment arrived I was talking with a Cajun friend of mine at the market. He hadn’t heard that either (but had no alternative explanation). “Haricots” has an interesting and somewhat mysterious etymology in French, apparently deriving from a Mexican Indian word, but being a source of a lot of speculation over the years.


  3. Buffy says:

    We love green beans too. They have loved our wet summer. But, picking them is my least favorite job in the garden!


    • Bill says:

      Yes, picking beans can be hot, dull and tedious. And we grow so many of them it seems to take forever. Definitely not a job I look forward to.


  4. Our ‘cocktail’ hour (before dinner snack) features sugar snap peas from Peggy’s garden every night. When the ground squirrels could get to our garden, that was also their go-to vegetable. 🙂 –Curt


  5. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, the green beans were a bust here. Hardly any germinated. I may try to replant but I’m guessing the ground is just too saturated with water. The last planting was planted in the mud and several rains have kept the ground soggy. The sweet corn is the same very few seeds germinated. The last planting of corn I planted two seeds in each spot and still the sprouting is spotty at best. More rain for today and next week the temperatures are down in the lower 50s at night again with day time temperatures in the 70s. That’s just not the kind of weather that promotes ripening of tomatoes and growth of corn.

    On the up side the cabbages are still looking good and the eggplants are doing really well. The green peppers are starting to produce and the grape tomatoes are at least giving a taste of what hopefully will be some tomatoes soon.

    Have a great bean harvesting day.


    • Bill says:

      Sorry you’ve had such a rough gardening summer. And now I see that you’re in for another blast of cool weather. We try to grow lots of things, in part because we have no way of knowing which vegetables Mother Nature intends to favor each year. Hoping you have abundant harvests of whatever veggies enjoy your weather.


  6. I grew up calling them French beans, but have been calling them green beans for years now. They are hubby’s favourite vegetable, bar none. He munches on them raw, sautees them, steams them, puts them in casseroles or the slow cooker. He hasn’t pickled them, though.


    • Bill says:

      The only way I ate them when I was growing up was cooked long and slow with a hunk of fatty meat in the pot. Delicious of course but I’ve learned to enjoy to enjoy them lots of other ways now. I’ve still never tried them pickled but have a friend who loves them that way. I need to try it too.


  7. EllaDee says:

    We, even the G.O., love green beans. Great fresh, cooked, alone, sauteed with white wine butter, and eschallots, with tomatoes and onion, in stir fry and so on 🙂


  8. avwalters says:

    The gardener’s question for beans, pole or bush? Bush are easier, but two years back I planted both and did a taste test. Pole won, hands down.


    • Bill says:

      I grew up on bush beans (surprisingly perhaps). I’ve heard numerous times that pole beans taste better, but I’ve stuck with the bush beans. We do grow old-fashioned varieties, but I suspect the pole version would be better.


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