Snap beans — a major Pennsylvania crop
Pennsylvania growers grow about 15,000 acres of snap beans ranking snap beans as the second largest Pennsylvania vegetable crop after sweet corn. It also ranks the state as the fifth largest producer of processing snap beans in the country. Growers have been harvesting beans since early July and will continue until frost.
Snap beans and most other Pennsylvania vegetables are in abundant supply during August. That is why Pennsylvania vegetable growers are celebrating August as Pennsylvania Produce Month.
Snap beans are at their best fresh from the field and now is the time to enjoy them to the fullest.
Consumers should have no trouble finding plenty of fresh picked beans at roadside farm markets, community farmers’ markets and supermarkets across the state.
Since most Pennsylvania snap beans are either commercially canned or frozen, consumers can purchase these commercially processed snap beans processed by Pennsylvania companies at a local supermarket.
Consumers also can buy a bushel or two of Pennsylvania green beans from a local farmer to can or freeze. Penn State University offers detailed instructions and recipes on how to safely can or freeze snap beans (and other vegetables) at home.
This information is available on the web at , by contacting any Penn State Cooperative Extension office, or by contacting the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program at 717-694-3596.
Beans can be prepared in any number of ways to fit most any menu and taste.
Fresh beans lightly steamed but still crunchy can be served whole, cut in strips French-style, or snapped into bite-sized pieces in the traditional manner. They are also tasty in a chilled bean salad and are a staple in summer vegetable stir-frys.
Commonly called string beans, they are more correctly termed snap beans after the sound of being broken into bite-sized pieces.
Fifty years ago, they were truly string beans because they had a tough “string” along the seam edge of the pods.
This string had to be pulled off before the bean could be snapped. Plant breeders have since succeeded in breeding this undesirable characteristic out of most popular varieties of snap beans grown today.
Snap bean pods are actually the fruits of the bean plant that contain the immature seeds. If the beans are left to completely ripen on the vine, the pod dries up and the seeds mature into dry beans. Kidney beans are the same species as snap beans but are a special variety with dark red seeds.
Health authorities recommend most Americans eat at least 2 to 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day. Snap beans are a popular choice for one of those vegetables and are a good source of vitamin A and fiber.
These recipes from the 2013 Pennsylvania “Simply Delicious” Vegetable Recipe Contest offer four different ways to enjoy fresh Pennsylvania beans:
Tom’s better beans
2 pounds green and/or yellow string beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
2 baby bella mushrooms without stems
1/2 teaspoon dill
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon savory
1/2 teaspoon cumin (optional)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (Kikkoman works well)
Use any size of green and-or yellow string beans.
Lay beans on countertop and trim off each end with a scissor or knife.
Then, cut each bean in half or thirds so each piece is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.
While trimming, start pot of water to boil with about 1 teaspoon of salt added. When the beans are trimmed, and the water is boiling, put beans in water with a vented cover on the pot. Start heating a large fry pan that has a good lid, and add the olive oil, chopped onion, and sliced mushrooms. Let cook on low while beans are boiling lightly for about 1 minute.
Drain beans, and add to fry pan. Sprinkle onto the beans each of the spices and the soy sauce. Let cook on medium to low with lid on for about 15 minutes, then with a small spatula, turn-over/stir the beans to mix everything thoroughly while cooking continues. Do the turn-over/stir every 15 minutes or so about 2 or 3 times, then turn off.
Allow cooked beans to sit for at least a few minutes before eating.
It’s best if they’re allowed to stay warm for about an hour in an insulated cover (such as when going to a covered-dish dinner.)
– Submitted by Tom Orlando, Altoona
Summer bean mix with corn and squash
3 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large ears fresh corn
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 small summer squash or zucchini cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 small red onion finely chopped
In a medium saucepan, cover the beans with water and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook until tender – about 20 minutes. While beans are cooking cut corn from cobs into a bowl, scraping cobs to get all the corn juices and pulp.
Discard cobs. Drain beans, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Heat oil and butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn, stir to coat well. Then add squash and the beans with reserved liquid.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is tender – about 8 to 10 minutes.
Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and ground pepper. Add red onion and serve immediately. Preparation and cooking 1 hour total.
– Submitted by Brenda Trowbridge, York
Smokey stove top beans
3 strips bacon, cut up
1/4 cup chopped sweet bell pepper
1/4 chopped onion
1 8.3-ounce can baked beans
1 cup of green string beans, cut up, cooked and drained
1 cup of yellow string beans, cut up, cookedand drained
1 1/2 cups lima beans, cooked and drained
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1/4 barbecue sauce
In a 2 quart saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crisp. Remove bacon from saucepan leaving fat in the pan. Cook peppers and onion in bacon fat, stirring occasionally until tender. Reduce heat to medium low. Stir in beans, tomato, barbecue sauce, and bacon. Simmer until thoroughly heated. Great with grilled burgers!
– Submitted by Sylvia Martin, Schuylkill Haven
Tasty green beans
1 pound fresh green beans (snap beans or Roma beans)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons Lawry’s Garlic Salt with Parsley
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Cook beans in salted water until tender. Add olive oil, garlic, garlic salt, pepper and parsley. Serve with addition chopped parsley on top.
-Submitted by Judith Mitcheltree, Erie.