There are so many different kinds of beans, and they’re usually categorized by the way they grow. For example, there are pole beans that need trellising, dry beans for soups & stews, and bush beans that grow low to the ground.
In our garden, we grow a mix of pole and bush beans. I love the different colours, patterns, and flavours of all the varieties! Our tricolour bean mix features purple, green, & yellow snap beans. The purple ones tend to lose their colour in cooking. Our farmer’s market customers love these bean mixes, & I always encourage people to sample on their garden visits.
Look for: Firm, crisp snap beans
Uses: Snap beans are naturally crisp and sweet when eaten raw, straight from the garden! Slice it thinly to make a fresh salad, or wrap them in prosciutto to make parcels as an appetizer. A quick way to cook them is to stir fry them with other vegetables, blanch with dressing, or roasting. A simple mix of vegetable oil, salt, & pepper are all you need for a quick roast!
Technique: Snap off the tops before washing & drying the snap beans. I find that these beans are pretty clean unless they touch the ground. For those, you’ll have to scrub well, as dirt tend to stick on them. Slicing beans on the diagonal make them look pretty for salad. Otherwise, cut them into bite sized pieces or keep them whole.
Growing: Snap beans are pretty easy to grow, and you can direct seed these right into the ground once the threat of frost is gone. Beans are a great vegetable to grow, because they don’t take long to establish themselves, and they fix nitrogen into the soil. Win-win! I usually do succession planting with snap beans, meaning I stagger plantings so I have a continual harvest.
Harvesting & Storage: Once the bean plants start producing, be sure to harvest frequently. At their peak of production, I’m usually out there about twice a day picking them! The beans get tough and fibrous once overgrown. You can chop these up for soups, let it overgrow for seed, or chuck them into the compost. After harvesting, put them in a bag to retain moisture ~ they’ll keep in the fridge for about a week. If you can’t eat them all, you can freeze them in 2 ways: blanch & freeze, or freeze without blanching. We’ve tried the latter option, and it’s ok if you like strong bean flavour. My mother-in-law cooks her beans before freezing ~ that way, for meals she simply defrosts the beans & warms them up.