I love green beans. I think they are my favorite vegetable. According to Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, green beans originated from a climbing plant native to the Andes region in northern South America. He also describes the flavor of cooked green beans as “interestingly complex; it includes a number of sulfer and ‘green’ compounds, but also the essence of fresh mushroom (octenol) and a flowery terpene.” Okay. I don’t know what that means, but it’s probably why I like them.
In the midwest, July is the peak season for green beans. I can buy green and yellow varieties at the farmer’s market for $2.00/pound. Yesterday I bought four pounds.
“What do you do with all those green beans?” you ask.
Well, my friend, I was waiting for that question. I do three things with green beans in July.
- I eat them. My favorite way to eat green beans is to blanch them and eat warm or room temperature with a light vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper). I snap off the stem ends and blanch them whole. Sometimes I eat them with my fingers.
- I freeze them. Freezing green beans is easy if you keep them whole. (Notice a trend here?) Snap off the stem ends and bring a big pot of water to a boil. Put in a handful or two of beans for several minutes or until they turn bright green. (FYI: The yellow ones won’t turn bright green.) Remove from the pot and immediately submerge them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain. Put them in freezer bags or containers. Place in the freezer. Eat in December when the snow is on the ground. Or January or February, if you have the willpower.
- I pickle them. I use a recipe in Simply in Season, but there are tons of recipes all over the internet for Dilly Beans (as they’re usually called). Bring a jar of pickled beans to a party; it’s a much better trick than playing the nose flute.