Wednesday, September 16

Why You Should Never Eat Canned String Beans

farmers' market string beans

If there were a contest for worst canned vegetable, chances are good that string beans would be the winner. Or beets, which are equally repugnant.

Canning is unkind to string beans. They become disturbingly gray and mushy. You can't even chew them; they just disintegrate in your mouth. As for the flavor, it's salty at best and metallic at worst. So do yourself a favor, and don't buy canned green beans. Ever. Frozen are much better, but fresh is superior in every regard.

Fresh string beans are appealing: slender, firm, and brightly hued. Though string beans are available year-round, they're especially abundant from late spring through late fall. If available, buy Blue Lake Beans. They've become the darling of chefs (many in San Diego) who prize them for their sweeter flavor and exceptional crispness.

There is one golden rule for cooking string beans: Do not overcook them. Follow that, and you're good to go. If you're not going to eat the string beans right away, the I suggest the following: Par-boil them for 2 minutes, then plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain, pat dry, and store them in a plastic container in the fridge for up to a week.

Otherwise, you can boil, steam, saute, roast, or microwave string beans. Beans that are sauteed or roasted tend be more flavorful and maintain a satisfying firmness.

This Quick Corn and String Bean Saute honors the flavors of fresh string beans and corn on the cob. The lemon and fresh parsley add just the right amount of zest, making this a simple, refreshing side dish. Oh, and if you don't have fresh corn, canned is OK. Really.

Note: Food Blogga is not responsible for recipes made with canned string beans. If you choose to use canned string beans, then be prepared for dinner table revolts, particularly from children.

quick corn and string bean saute

Quick Corn and String Bean Saute
Makes 4-6 servings
Print recipe only here.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound string beans, ends trimmed
2 cup corn kernels, preferably fresh
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
a generous sprinkling of salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm oil. Add string beans, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add corn kernels, and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until brown spots begin to appear on the vegetables. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and crushed red pepper, and stir well. Add the fresh parsley, stir, and remove from heat. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Variations: Butter can be substituted for olive oil; also basil, cilantro, or mint are delicious alternatives to parsley.

You might also like these dishes featuring string beans:

String Beans with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, and Meyer Lemon





String Beans and Tofu with Thai Peanut Butter Sauce





Warm Bulgur Salad with Beets, Fennel, and Oranges





Here are a few more:
Italian String Beans with Anchovies and Bread Crumbs at Local Lemons
Sichuan String Beans at Wandering Chopsticks
Green Beans with Basil and Almonds at From Our Home to Yours

42 comments:

Sean said...

Oh I am so forwarding this to my friend who keeps on eating this canned crap. Thank you for the post and the delicious recipe

spamwise said...

Besides string beans, there are lovely haricot verts. Those are definitely in the "no overcooking" category.

I can't remember when was the last time I had canned vegetables of any stripe.

ikes said...

but my one year old loves them!

Simona said...

I have actually never had canned green beans or frozen ones. I love the fresh ones: they are a versatile treat. I will try pairing them with corn, like you suggest.

Xiaolu said...

Agreed! I always grimace when I see the canned ones at the store. My favorite way to enjoy fresh green beans is stir-fried with garlic and soy sauce, but your recipe looks equally simple and lovely!

nora@ffr said...

wow!! m definitely gonna try thias!! soo healthy and looks sooo delish!1 yummm!!!

Allison Arevalo said...

Uck, canned string beans? When I eat at someone's house who uses them, I'm tempted to say "Sorry, I don't eat vegetables."

Thanks so much for mentioning my Italian string bean recipe. Gotta love fresh beans and anchovies!

The Food Hunter said...

I agree! This is a great string bean recipe.

the Italian Dish said...

Amen. Thomas Keller of The French Laundry insists that string beans at his restaurants be plunged into well salted, boiling water and be brought right back to boiling. He says this method makes the beans retain their bright green color. It works and I always use this method!

Greg said...

Canned peas are another abomination.

Susan from Food Blogga said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan from Food Blogga said...

sean-Go for it! It's your civic duty!

spamwise- That's terrific! Course I had to giggle since your name is "spamwise."

ikes-Get him used to the good stuff now before it's too late. ;)

simona-Why am I not surprised to hear that? I'm sure they're not even sold in Italy!

xiaolu-I adore them prepared that way too!

nora-They are light and healthy!

allison-Ha! I don't blame you. And you're welcome. :)

foodhunter-Thanks so much!

elaine-It really does work. Thanks for sharing!

greg-How could I have forgetten canned peas? They are indeed an abomination.

Lisa said...

You are right and canned green beans are lousy! I love a quick fresh salad.

Johanna said...

so simple and so elegant - that is a lovely dish

strangely enough I liked green beans when I was young but rarely eat them now - well maybe I suffered their presence gracefully - your photo makes me want to eat them although it seems it is now the wrong time of year here - what a shame!

Alanna the Veggie Evangelist said...

Ha! Canned green beans are one of my very top staples, I buy them by the case. Now I'm not saying they're 'fresh' -- but there's also no snipping, no snapping, no waiting for the pot to boil, no wondering about whether there's enough salt (my own trick for green beans is a tablespoon of salt for two quarts of water). And I'm crazy for fresh. But please, don't take away my canned green beans!

Jennifer said...

I always use frozen string beans. The other night my freezer was bare and in a pinch, I opened a can of string beans. Ugh! My kids took one look and said ... I am NOT eating those ... (they're 4 and 7). In the trash they went!

Can't wait to try this saute!

annie said...

It has never occurred to me to buy canned string beans; they remind me of "hot lunch in elementary school, and they smell funny. This is a great, fresh, healthy way to use the real thing, though, which are abundant and in season at the moment. I think I'll go for the fresh corn, too, and make it a clean sweep. :)

Lori Jablons said...

Sending this to my mom, who still insists on using canned even though we kids refuse to eat them. Canned asparagus put me off asparagus until I was 37 and had fresh for the first time!
:)

tastyeatsathome said...

Unfortunately, my kids and husband prefer canned to fresh, when it comes to string beans. Ugh. I only will prepare fresh, but in order to get anyone else to eat them, I have to overcook them, until they start to lose their vibrant green. It's so sad, because you and I know that vibrant green tastes much better!

Anonymous said...

The string beans at my market never look that beautiful. You're so lucky to live in San Diego!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Wish my mother had read this post when I was a kid. I can't begin to count how many awful side dishes she perpetrated with canned string beans.

Gudrun said...

my husband has the hardest time thinking about green beans without remembering the canned ones he ate as a kid! I am slowly reintroducing vegetables that were dead to him through canning....

Lynda said...

I love the combination of string beans with sweet yellow corn and the bite of crushed red pepper. Kind of like a salsa, but not.

Lori Lynn said...

Great idea. Like the pairing of corn with the beans. Pretty too.
LL

Annie said...

LOL... reminds me of my childhood with canned peas and carrots. My dad had a thing for them. I couldn't eat peas and carrots for many years.

I love fresh string beans. They are addicting to me. I have eaten an entire pound and more in one sitting... Good thing they are healthy :)

marzipanmom said...

Could you please pass this information along to all the school cafeterias serving canned string beans! My kids don't even recognize them and certainly won't EAT them!

Anali said...

Ah, such a wonderful bean! Very good advice. I even eat them raw sometimes. What a tasty vegetable. : )

We Are Not Martha said...

I loveee fresh green beans! Canned green beans are nothing even close to fresh ones and are basically just a bunch of mush!! I was a lucky kid and was absolutely never fed canned veggies. Thank you SO much, Mom and Dad :)

Sues

Sal said...

Fresh green beans are awesome! Thanks for the recipe!

Cynthia said...

I bought a bag of frozen ones last week and immediately dumped it after defrosting it, it looked so horrible I could not bring myself to cook and serve it.

Anonymous said...

While I prefer fresh or frozen, I can deal with canned green beans (beets, too). It's canned peas I can't stand.

Soma said...

I have never had canned beans, but i will listen to you:-D. I do blanch & freeze my beans tho' when i get a lot of them & cannot eat all at once. That is once colorful fresh recipe.

buday said...

Tried it for lunch this weekend. Used butter instead of olive oil (just thought it might bo more flavorful).

We paired it with grilled tuna. Perfect. :) Thanks!

Ivy said...

I would never dream of eating anything from a can yet on Sunday I tried canned bamboo shoots, as there are no fresh ones in Greece, but threw them away.

Hilary said...

I'm going to out myself... I don't generally like canned veg but I have a serious soft spot for canned green beans. There's something about the artificiality that is my guilty pleasure. I'd never buy or cook with them, though! (I only eat them when, say, confronted with them at a potluck. And then my heart does a little dance.)

Unplanned Cooking said...

Thanks! I agree -- canned green beans are mushy. These recipes look great, and I can't wait to try them.

Erika said...

I may be ruining my reputation in the food blogging community, but I also like canned greeen beans. I think of them as a different species from their fresh counterparts; I actually like to eat canned green beans with a fork straight from the can. My parents did, too, so maybe I eat them because I'm thinking of Mom and Dad.

Homecooked said...

Hey..I made this today and it turned out delicious! I'll post it on my blog and link it here. Hope its allright.

Anonymous said...

I think any veggies have their time & place, and like Erika, I also think of them as a different thing altogether from fresh beans. Living in a colder climate, we don't have the same availability of fresh produce as those of you in warmer climes so maybe we learn to make do with more. As for school cafeterias, I'd rather see canned green beans than no veggies at all! And maybe by getting kids used to veggies at a young age, they will be more likely to 'upgrade' to fresh when they can.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-Thanks for your comment. I agree that canned beans are preferable to no veggies. No argument there. Also this post was tongue-in-cheek. For the record, fresh wins every time.

Eileen said...

I made this tonight with frozen beans & corn & it was absolutely delicious. I loved the layers of taste: sweetness from the corn, freshness from the lemon & heat from the pepper flakes. It's an ideal recipe for me: simple & flavorful, with ingredients I stock in the house.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

eileen-I'm so happy to hear it! Thanks for letting me know. You're making me want to make it again tonight too!

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