Plenty of Pennsylvania Snap Beans This Year

For Immediate Release
Plenty of Pennsylvania Snap Beans This Year
August 13, 2009

Snap beans yields are excellent this year due to the abundant moisture in much of the state. Pennsylvania growers grow over 9,000 acres of snap beans ranking snap beans as the second largestPennsylvania 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 the Governor and the General Assembly have both proclaimed 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.

Consumers concerned with rising food prices might want to consider buying a bushel or two of Pennsylvania green beans from a local farmer to can or freeze. Home canning or freezing Pennsylvania snap beans will save gallons of fossil fuels used to truck canned or frozen product across the country.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 athttp://foodsafety.psu.edu/lets_preserve.html, by contacting any Penn State Cooperative Extension office, or by contacting the Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program at 717-694-3596.

Since most Pennsylvania snap beans are either commercially canned or frozen, another alternative is to purchase these commercially processed snap beans produced by Pennsylvania food processors at a local supermarket.

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.

Snap beans come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most common is the green snap bean with a round, straight pod. Yellow snap beans or wax beans are also popular. Purple-podded beans (which turn green when cooked) and flat-podded beans (also known as Romano or Italian beans) are specialty varieties that have a distinctive flavor preferred by some.

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 ½ 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 2009 Pennsylvania “Simply Delicious” Vegetable Recipe Contest offer three different ways to enjoy fresh Pennsylvania beans:

 

Sesame Green Beans & Potatoes with Orange Glazed Ham

2 c.             Green Beans – trimmed into 2” to 3” pieces.

8                Red Potatoes – small, new

Salt

1/4 c.          Olive Oil

2 T              Rice Vinegar

4                Scallions, sliced across

Parsley – fresh

Chives – fresh

1 T              Sesame Seeds

Sesame Oil

2 T              Orange Marmalade

1/2 lb          Ham – cooked

Black Pepper

Cook beans (in boiling water or steam) for about 4 minutes. Beans should be bright green but slightly flexible. Drain and spray with cold water. Meanwhile cook potatoes in salted water. When tender, remove from pot and cool to barely warm then cut into bite-sized pieces and salt lightly. Toss in a large shallow bowl with 3T of olive oil and 1 T of vinegar, half the scallions and the herbs. In a heavy skillet, toast sesame seeds. Add sesame oil and beans and stir to coat. Remove from heat. Sprinkle beans and all the sesame seeds over the potatoes. Warm marmalade in a saucepan (add some water if needed to make glaze-like), then toss slivers of ham in the marmalade. Pour ham and glaze over the beans and potatoes. Combine the remaining olive oil and vinegar with a dash of salt, remaining scallions & herbs, and drizzle over all. Grind fresh black pepper over the salad and serve.

 

First Prize Recipe in the Snap Bean/Lima Bean/Pea category

Submitted by Debra Deis, Harrisburg

 

Its All Greek To Me Bean Salad

Serves 6

 

1/2 c.                Orzo Pasta

8 oz.                 Chicken Broth – canned

6 slices             Turkey Bacon

1 to 1 1/2 c.       Green Beans – cleaned, snapped in half if using fresh, can use frozen

1/2 c.                Red Onion – sliced

1 tsp.                Garlic – chopped

8 oz.                 Tomatoes – canned petite diced, drained or same amount fresh diced

1 tsp.                Lemon Juice

1/2 c.                Greek Salad Dressing

SaIt and Pepper – to taste

1/2 c.                Feta Cheese

 

Cook orzo in chicken broth until tender but not soft, about 8 minutes. Drain any remaining broth and set pasta aside to cool. Cook bacon slices in skillet or microwave until crisp. Cool and chop into 1/4 inch pieces. In another pan, cook green beans for two to three minutes in boiling water. Immediately drain and immerse in ice water until cool: Drain again. Combine cooled pasta, drained green beans, bacon pieces, onion, garlic and drained tomatoes. Add lemon juice and salad dressing, salt and pepper to taste. When ready to serve, crumble feta cheese on and stir carefully. Tastes even better the next day after being refrigerated.

 

Finalist Recipe

Submitted by Kay W. Kahle, Seneca

 

 

Tropical Green Beans

 

4 T              Olive Oil

1 lb             Green Beans – fresh, cleaned, cut and dried

1                Yellow Onion, – small cut into rings

6 cloves      Garlic – peeled and halved

1/2 tsp        Salt

2 T              Balsamic Vinegar

3 stalks       Hearts of Palm – cut into 1/2″ rings

1/3 c.          Sun-Dried Tomatoes – diced, packed in oil

2 tsp           Pine Nuts – toasted

Black Pepper – freshly ground

 

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Brush a large baking dish with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Put green beans, onion, and garlic in dish, drizzle with remaining oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring beans at least 3 times. When tender, remove beans from oven and transfer to bowl. Immediately drizzle with vinegar. Add hearts of palm, tomatoes, pine nits and pepper to taste and toss.

 

 

Quick Buying Tips for Fresh Pennsylvania Snap Beans

The Pennsylvania Vegetable Marketing and Research Program offers these tips when buying fresh grown snap beans:

—    Look for long, slender pods that are free of scars.

—    Refrigerate unwashed beans in a perforated plastic bag.

—    Each pound of snap beans includes approximately four servings.

—    Snap beans are best when steamed or microwaved. Boiling will cause beans to lose many of their nutrients.