Garden Harvest Spotlight: Snap Beans
Timely Tip: Direct sow some bush beans this weekend for a late summer/early fall crop! Snap beans are wonderful in fall dishes, but are tender plants that will die at the first frost.
We are doing a big bean trial this year, and are currently swimming in the legumes of our labor! In addition to green snap beans, there are a plethora of colors, shapes and sizes that can make harvest tricky if you are unfamiliar with the particulars about the bean.
Bush Snap Beans: Phaseolus vulgaris
Bush beans are great. They are easy, quick and copious. Though they do take up more row space over pole beans, there is no trellising required, just sow, wait 55 days, then pick! Bush beans generally set 2 heavy flushes of beans, with the first being the greatest. For best yields, harvest your bush beans over a 3 week window, then remove the plants. Rely on timings of succession sowings for a continued harvest.
Here are the categories of snap beans, along with harvest tips for each type:
French Filet Bean: AKA Haricort Vert, or French Garden Bean. These beans are very slender, stringless, and often shorter than typical garden beans. French beans are crisp and very sweet. HARVEST: Don't wait until they are super plump--pick when slim and taut.
Snap Beans: Plump and high yielding. The best variety is still Provider. It comes in first with quality, sweetness, and yields. Snap beans can also come in purple, such as the beautiful Royalty Purple Pod. But FYI, they turn green when cooked or pickled. HARVEST: Pick when plump but before the beans are discernible in the pod. If you wait too long, they become tough and unpalatable.
Romano Beans: Characterized by a flat shape and strong, mushroomy flavor. This type is green and are often pole beans. HARVEST: This type should be flat, yet with depth, and tauts. Beans inside should not be noticeable.
Wax Beans: Also known as butter beans. Are named so for their color. They are white to golden and long, like Pencil Pod. Dragon's Tongue Bean is characterized as a wax bean because it is a white bean, with purple speckles! Though it has a shape like a Romano. HARVEST: Very easy to harvest these: pick when long, slender and fully yellow. (This type starts out green!)
When harvesting beans, be sure to use two hands. Have one hand on the plant, where the stem attaches, and the other on the bean. This helps the beans stay intact, and they will keep longer too.
To store for the week, keep beans dry and cold. Water quickly deteriorates the quality. Store in a air tight container or bag to keep beans crisp. Room temperature counter storage quickly turns beans rubbery and tough.
Preserving the Harvest: Freezing Tips from Doug
Doug has been freezing much of the bean abundance from our trials this year so I reached out to him for the best bean freezing practice. Here are Doug's tips--including how to make frozen beans measurable!
Before beginning, trim ends off beans and cut to 2" lengths.
1. Blanch beans in boiling water for about 2 minutes. (Bring water to a boil first, then add prepped beans.)
2. Dunk immediately into ice cold water.
3. Drain and pat dry.
4. Place on a cookie sheet on a single layer, and place cookie sheet in the freezer.
5. Once beans are frozen, transfer to a freezer bag. This insures that the beans are loose and can be measured out frozen.
To use: Home frozen beans are a great addition to winter soups and stews!