Green beans-- picking tips, and size?

sarabellSeptember 28, 2008

My daughters and I picked some green beans tonight for the first time-- some of them are quite large, did we let them get too large? Are they still good at, say 5-6" and the thickness of a finger?

Also, are there any tips to picking them? Some that the girls were helping with snapped off not at the stem, but in the bean itself, so I'm sure those won't keep as well? I ended up just pulling a few of the little bushes out of the ground completely, so that they could pick them more easily... Would those have produced more had I left them in the ground?

Thanks in advance!

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jimster(z7a MA)

Green beans, or snap beans as they are called when it is the entire pod is eaten, are best when picked before the pods are filled out with seed. It is the thickness of the pod which is important, not the length. Usually, pods about the thickness of a pencil are suitable for harvest. Finger thickness sounds a bit too mature but if they are tender enough, that's the real criterion. Cook up a batch. If they are not stringy or fibrous they are OK.

Have you ever tried green shelly beans? Many varieties of beans are good at the stage when the pods become tough and filled out. The mature, but not dried, seeds are removed from the pods and cooked. They are very good.

Bush beans ordinarily will produce two or three pickings if they are picked. If not kept picked they tend not to produce more beans. At least, that's the conventional wisdom.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:37PM
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Sarabell, I'm next door in KS and I too have a new flush of beans coming on. I didn't get the first batch due to grasshoppers so I did manage to get a few tonight for supper. It sounds like they are a bit mature, as were some of mine. I destringed them and they cooked up fine. Not the best I've had but still better than out of a can from the store. I'm not sure I would bother with canning over-mature beans but as Jim said, there are other uses for them. As long as they still taste good, I would say to use them. Lori

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 12:18AM
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Thanks for the info! I'll cook them up and see. :)

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 8:28AM
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gran2(z5 INDIANA)

Yes, beans have an internal "computer" that determines when they've done their job and the plants can die. When a significant number are left to fully mature and dry on the plant, the plant will cease production and die. Like navy beans or great northerns or any beans that we use for dried. So long as you keep them picked, even if it's the buggy season and you have to toss them all away, the plant will continue to produce. I pick beans the day before frost every year without fail. (those teeny ones are a whole different food!)

Snapping the bean off into the bean rather than with the top on it is preferable. Pick with a full hand, using thumb to snap off the top of the bean, instead of tugging at the bean until it comes free, which dislodges the roots and damages the plant.

Some people really like shell-outs or more mature beans. I personally find them rather tough. Personal preference. They may be very useful in, say, vegetable soup. I hope the experience was good enough that you'll plant again next year.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 11:22AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Beans love being picked continously. Once as big as fingers, the beans inside are very hard, and the 'strings' get very tough too. Here, I pick every few days once I see them reaching a normal size. If I let them go too long, they are not useful for very much. My preference is the yellow wax type, bush beans. I usually get at least 4-5 gallon bags of frozen beans every year. The same overgown issues happen if you allow pickling cukes to grow too big. The plants stop producing and then then die. My last picking of the season was also the time I pulled up the plants, as many were way too big to eat, as I wasn't picking for over 20 days. For my gallons of beans, I trim ends off, cut, and blanch. The blanched beans get placed in my salad spinner to push out any excess water. After that, they go into a big absorbent towel overnight to get rid of rest of the water. Then placed in freezer zipper bags.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 1:05PM
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