The Absolute Best Ways To Keep Green Beans Fresh

Green bean lovers know that the freshest pole, string, snap, wax, or haricots verts start arriving in May and often produce their bounty through early autumn. Joined by a host of other fresh vegetables sprouting, growing, ripening, and hopping onto tables across the world, green beans hold their own as one of the most popular vegetables in America, according to a poll cited by WDRB Media. Green beans, botanically known as Phaseolus vulgaris as noted by Food Network, appeared on 87% of the survey respondent's lists as a favorite. The same poll revealed that 25% of the people stated their reason for not eating as many fresh vegetables is that they go bad too quickly.

There are ways to fix that problem. Learning how to keep green beans fresh can help transform the way you approach healthy eating while also taking a baby step toward cutting down on food waste.

Start with the freshest beans

It's no secret that fresh is better. Delicious green beans on your table start the minute those little green poles are plucked in the field. Farmers markets and roadside produce stands are often touted as the best chance for farm-to-table eating, but that may not always be an option. Modern grocery stores keep vegetables refrigerated and protected from the hot sun, making them a good option when you don't have time for going straight to the source.

The important thing is determining the freshness of green beans before scooping them into a produce bag and taking them home. Cooking Light reports that best-selling cookbook author Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., recommends carefully inspecting beans for signs of rotting. Dings, bruises, or brown discoloration are telltale signs that beans have been off the stalk too long or have been improperly stored. Check for firm texture and a clean snapping sound when breaking them apart. You also don't want to see the seed bulging against the shell or feel slime when you touch them — that's a deal-breaker.

Keep fresh green beans cold from day one

Whether purchasing fresh green beans from a grocery store or farmers market, it's important to keep them cold. Get them into your refrigerator as soon as possible, explains Cooking Light. Unless you plan to use them right away, they'll need some preparation for cold storage. Keep the beans whole and refrain from washing them, as any moisture can encourage the growth of mold, per EatByDate.

Store the beans in a plastic bag or airtight lidded container, removing as much air as possible. You should also place them in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. If you have a crisper with settings, Life Storage recommends placing the green beans in there at a high humidity level, preferably along with a paper towel to absorb any lingering moisture. When properly stored cold in a plastic bag or container, they should last from five to seven days. Once cooked in your favorite recipe, such as lemon garlic green beans, leftover green beans should be stored the same way and eaten within three to five days, according to StillTasty. Be sure to refrigerate them within a couple of hours, as bacteria will start growing quickly at room temperature

Freeze fresh green beans for longevity

The summer bounty of beans can be overwhelming if you can't consume them quickly enough. But there's no need to toss them out or to gift them to your neighbors. Freezing green beans is an excellent way to preserve that fresh-picked flavor and texture, not to mention the power-pack of vitamins nestled in those pods. Food Network notes that a single cup of uncooked green beans gives you a boost of vitamins K, C, and A and are chockfull of fiber.

Better Homes and Gardens (BHG) recommends rinsing the beans in cool water, trimming off the stems, and peeling away any visible strings. Blanch them by boiling in hot water for two to four minutes, based on small or large size, followed by an icy cold bath to stop them from cooking any further. This helps retain the texture you'll truly appreciate when it's time to reunite with them up to eight months later. Be sure to label with a date and store in freezer-safe bags, bowls, or jars.

With these steps, you can better preserve the freshness from this season's green bean harvest.