French bean or green bean, also known as runner bean, is the still unripe fruit of the common bean, the pods of which are more commonly called string beans or snap beans. Other beans from which the green bean is taken are hyacinth bean, winged bean and yardlong bean.
The green bean is a very popular ingredient and cultivated particularly for flavor, sweetness and fleshiness of the pods.
Although the beans have probably been around for a very long time, the very first stringless bean was bred by Calvin Keeney in 1894 while he was working in Le Roy, New York. Keeney is fondly known as the 'father of the stringless bean'.
Green beans are extensively used in cooking and are, therefore, one of the most cultivated plants in the world. There are broadly 2 groups - bush beans and pole beans. Out of these, the bush bean is more favored as the plant is shorter and grows without the requirement of any support. As the plant is short-lived, gardeners grow more than one crop during the season.
French Bean: Culinary Uses
Green bean is one of the most commonly used cooking ingredients and it is a part of almost every cuisine in the world in one form or another. The beans can be steamed, fried, stir-fried, boiled or baked. Sometimes, the beans are also battered. In Japanese cuisine, green bean tampura is a popular preparation.
While the beans are cooked alone, they are mostly used in combination with other vegetables like carrots, cabbage, potatoes, corn and peas.
French Bean Recipe: Popular Preparations
As French bean is one of the most widely used ingredients around the world, the recipes associated with the dish are numerous. Some preparations, however, are more global and popular than some others which are regional and lesser known. Some of the popular recipes which use green bean as a main ingredient are:
- Creamed green beans: This is a simple preparation made from onions and beans. The ingredients are fried in butter and then creme fraiche is added.
- Spiced green beans: Also known as Tumis Pedas Kacang Panjang, this is a Thai recipe and is made with green beans and special local spices.
- Chow Dau Kok: The Chinese stir-fried Beans is a simple recipe made with green beans, ginger and garlic. The ingredients are stir-fried in groundnut oil. The recipe is popular for its unique flavor.
- French Beans with Chorizo Sausage and Eggs: a popular main course recipe from the Portugal region.
- Judfas Verdes Barcena or Beans with Cured Ham: This is a Spanish recipe and is commonly served in Spanish and American restaurants.
Green Beans: Buying and Storing
French bean can be easily purchased off the shelves in grocery stores and supermarkets or ordered online. Some people prefer to grow the beans in their homes as that ensures fresh and regular supply at all times. The beans can be purchased in frozen or canned forms. Fresh beans are also easily available. When buying frozen or canned beans, it is important to always check the expiry date and when purchasing the fresh variety, caution should be taken to select only unharmed beans.
The beans, fresh, canned as well as frozen, should be preferably stored in the refrigerator.
French Bean Recipe: Trivia
Green bean casserole, made from fried onions, cream of mushroom soup and French bean, is one of the most common and popular Thanksgiving preparations in the US.