Beans are native to Central and South America. There are many varieties of beans—some green, others waxy. Shapes differ from round to flat to oval. The tender, stringless variety we know today was developed within the last 65 years. Beans are available from July through September.
For information on bean varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.
- Snap beans come in a variety of colors, including green, yellow, purple, and red. They should be firm and crisp in texture; and smooth with no evidence of seeds bulging.
- Lima beans should be nearly full size with plump, firm pods. Pods left to ripen too long will result in beans that are tough and mealy.
- Flabby, tough beans or bulging seeds are overly mature and have reduced nutritional value.
Due to many variables, including moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.
- 1 bushel = 30 pounds
- 1 bushel = 15–20 quarts canned or 30–45 pints frozen
- 1½–2 pounds = 1 quart canned or 2 pints frozen
- 1 bushel = 30–32 pounds
- 1 bushel = 6–8 quarts canned or 12–16 pints frozen
- 4–5 pounds = 1 quart canned or 2 pints frozen
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. Fresh, frozen, and canned beans support better nutrition with a range of benefits:
- Snap beans are a fair source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and potassium.
- A ½ cup of cooked snap beans has 22 calories.
- Lima beans are a fair source of vitamins A and C, folate, calcium, iron, and potassium.
- A ½ cup of cooked lima beans has 108 calories.
- Nutrition is highest in fresh beans consumed within one week of harvest and will decrease with prolonged storage.
- Fresh beans should be kept cold and humid in the refrigerator and used within five days if possible.
- They are best stored loosely covered in a food-safe container.
- Do not wash beans before storing, wash them before use.
- Wash thoroughly in clear water to remove dirt. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable.
- Drain and rinse several times with cold water. Lift vegetables from water to prevent redepositing of dirt and residues.
- Break ends off snap beans before cutting. Peel strings or shell, trim, and then cut or break the beans into pieces as desired.
- Beans may be served in salads, casseroles, and soups—alone or with other vegetables—and either hot or cold.
- Fresh, frozen, or canned beans can be used interchangeably in most cooked recipes.
- Snap beans can be left whole, broken, or cut across into 1-inch pieces, cut on the diagonal in thin pieces sliced lengthwise, or put through a bean slicer.
- Season snap beans with basil, dill, marjoram, nutmeg, savory, or thyme.
- Lima beans can be seasoned with snipped parsley, savory, sage, or a small amount of butter or margarine.
- Cook beans in 1-inch of salted water (½ teaspoon salt to 1 cup water). Heat to boiling. Cook green beans 5 minutes uncovered and then 10–15 minutes covered (5–10 minutes for French Style). Cook wax beans 15–20 minutes covered (10–15 minutes for French Style). Cook lima beans uncovered for 5 minutes and then cook them covered for 15–20 minutes.
Green Bean and Mushroom Medley
Lemon pepper seasoning and garlic salt give a flavor punch to this mushroom, carrot, and green bean side dish.
- 3 cups green beans (fresh, cut into 1-inch lengths)
- 2 carrots (cut into thick slices)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion (large, sliced)
- 1 pound of mushrooms (fresh, sliced)
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- ½ tablespoon garlic salt
- ¼ cup almonds (toasted, slivered)
- Place green beans and carrots in 1 inch of boiling water. Cover, and cook until tender but still firm. Drain.
- Add oil to heated skillet. Sauté onions and mushrooms until almost tender. Reduce heat, cover, and then simmer 3 minutes. Stir in green beans, carrots, lemon pepper, and garlic salt. Cover and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.
For more information on preserving beans, go to ohioline.osu.edu, or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:
- Canning Basics, HYG-5338
- Basics for Canning Vegetables, HYG-5344
- Freezing Vegetables, HYG-5333
- Drying Fruits and Vegetables, HYG-5347
National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.
Ohio State University. n.d. Farm to Health Series Maximize Your Nutrients From: Green Beans and Pea Pods. Ohio State University, accessed June 30, 2021. localfoods.osu.edu/sites/localfoods/files/imce/pdf/farmtohealth/GreenBeans.pdf.
Olson, Richard, Kellie Cassavale, Colette Rihane, Eve Essery Stoody, Patricia Britten, Jill Reedy, Elizabeth Rahavi, Janet de Jesus, Katrina Piercy, Amber Mosher, Stephenie Fu, Jessica Larson, and Anne Brown Rodgers. 2015–2020. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 Eighth Edition. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. health.gov/sites/default/files/2019-09/2015-2020_Dietary_Guidelines.pdf.
University of Arkansas. 2013. Vegetable Weights Per Bushel. University of Arkansas System, modified July 23, 2013. uaex.uada.edu/yard-garden/vegetables/docs/Vegetable%20Weights%20Per%20Bushel.pdf.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2020. fdc.nal.usda.gov
U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “My Plate, U.S. Department of Agriculture.” Recipes. Accessed June 28, 2021. myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes.