You may wonder why your fresh green beans are so stringy that they hardly seem edible. Green beans are also known as string beans because of the fibers that develop along the seams of the pods. Plant breeders have developed string beans that are much less stringy than previous kinds, but you still may end up with some stringy green beans from your home garden.
Which Beans are Stringy?
Green beans were once referred to as string beans and are now referred to as snap beans. Green beans can be grown from bush bean plant varieties or the pole bean plant varieties. Bush beans grow on a free-standing bush, while pole beans grow on a vine that must be supported by a stake. Green beans are usually eaten in the pod and the pod is the part of the bean that becomes stringy.
What Makes the Bean Pods Stringy?
Some green beans will naturally have some stringiness along the seams of the pods because of the fibers in the bean pods. If the beans have not been cared for properly, they may become very stringy. If the bean pods are formed during very high temperatures or if the plants have not received sufficient water, the pods will form excess fiber and vascular tissue. Heat and water stressed beans will be very difficult to chew.
Avoiding Stringy Beans
The best way to avoid green beans that are too stringy is to properly care for them if you grow them yourself. Most varieties these days have very few strings. Harvest before bean pods are fully mature and use immediately to reap the best quality. If you do not use the green beans immediately, refrigerate them. If you are buying green beans, look for bean pods that are tender and crisp. They should snap when broken. Older green beans will be limp and are more likely to be stringy.
Preparing String Beans
If you have fresh green beans, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days. Wash green beans just before use. You will only need to remove the stem before cooking or eating. Fresh green beans can be sautéed with butter or olive oil and garlic for a short amount of time or they can be eaten raw. If you have extra green beans, you can freeze, can or dry them.