Monday, November 4, 2013

Contender Snap Beans

I had a very nice surprise when I went out to the garden at Halloween:  some of the snap beans were ready for picking.  The seed company stated on the package that the beans would be ready in 40 - 60 days and they were right on the nose.  I have picked almost two pounds in the last few days.

The beans were grown in the raised box, 8x4 feet, that we built earlier this fall.  I sowed two rows of beans along either long side of the box.  It was a little bit crowded but this could also be called intensive gardening.  I am pleased that every seed sprouted, grew, bloomed, and provided me with a good crop of beans.

I gather that the name, snap beans, refers to the beans being snapped into bite size pieces before cooking.  Another name for these beans is string beans referring to the "string" running from top to bottom and is pulled before cooking.  A third name for the common snap beans is 'Haricot Verts'.  Huh?  I believe its French.  The name for the snap beans that we use is "Contender."  It's a true and tried cultivar in our family.

Once upon a time when we had our first garden, there was a church supper and I decided to bring snap beans as my covered dish.  I know I rinsed the beans and snapped them, put them in a pot of salted water and let them come to a boil.  After a few minutes, I removed them from the stove and put them in a serving bowl.  It was fine until a lady at the church demanded to know who the heck had brought those beans.  They were more raw than cooked.

Nowadays I let the beans with the ends off cook for no longer than five minutes and then I rinse them off under running cool water to stop the cooking..  Some say that the beans should be immersed in ice water.  To make my dish, I pour a little canola oil in a frying pan and when hot stir in the drained beans with a little bit of Hoisin sauce.  The beans need no further cooking and may be served warm with the rest of the meal.

The beans are also very good when cooked until tender in salted water.  I don't think that I am the right person to tell you how long you should cook your beans.

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