Snap beans, green beans, or string beans…no matter which name you prefer, they are one and the same and in season! Green snap beans are categorized into two different groups, bush or pole beans, based on growth characteristics. If the bean plant needs support to grow, they are classified as pole beans; if the beans can grow on their own without added support, they are classified as bush beans. Spring and fall crops can be planted but the spring crop generally yields larger quantities. Also, it should be noted that the fall snap beans, although lesser in quantity, are often of a better quality than the spring beans. In Louisiana, Provider and Contender are some of the recommended varieties for bush snap beans and Kentucky Blue and McCaslin are some of the best varieties to grow for pole snap beans. Snap beans should be picked when they reach a length of 4-5 inches long and before the developing seeds begin to bulge on the bean. They should also snap when broken to indicate turgor and freshness of the bean.
The nutritional quality of snap beans is high due to a number of reasons:
Snap beans are found to be a good source of some B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and some phytonutrients (lutein, zeaxathin, beta-carotene, etc.). They are also considered a very good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese. Here are some of the benefits of consuming snap beans:
Here are some ideas on how to incorporate snap beans into your daily diet:
Recipe Yield: 4 servingsServing Size: 1 cup
Ingredients: 1 can (16 ounces) green beans, no salt added, drained2 cups cooked pasta (elbow or macaroni or other type of short pasta)1/2 cup chopped green onion1/2 cup shredded cheese3 tablespoons vegetable relish2 tablespoons vegetable oil1/4 teaspoon garlic powder1 teaspoon mayonnaise, light1/2 teaspoon mustard1 teaspoon basil (optional)
Directions:1. Combine beans, pasta, onions, and cheese in a large bowl.2. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables and pasta. Stir gently.3. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.4. Enjoy!
Sources of information:LSU AgCenter: Louisiana Vegetable Planting GuideLSU AgCenter: Louisiana Home Vegetable GardeningSelf Nutrition Data, Search raw snap beansPower your Diet, Search green bean nutrition factsLSU AgCenter Smart Choices Recipe Book