Food & Cooking

Keep the green in summer beans | Food and Cooking

For “company batches” of French-cut beans, I pull out my little hand-crank French bean slicer. It’s a slick kitchen tool that attaches to a counter top. To operate it, you feed a handful of fresh green beans into the hopper while turning the crank. Beans are sliced into slender French-cut slices in short order. I found mine at a local kitchen ware store years ago, but you might not have such luck. However, it’s also available via the internet. Made by NorPro, (NorPro Deluxe Bean Frencher with clamp) it costs about $29. Norpro also sells a hand-held bean slicer like the Krisk Bean Stringer & Slicer.

PREPARATION & COOKING: It’s imperative to start with high quality beans. The pod should be unblemished, relatively crisp, with small seeds. Fresh beans will have a slightly fuzzy skin. Avoid limp pods, or pods that are swollen with seeds — an indication that the beans stayed on the vine too long.

Whatever variety of bean you find in your specific area — be it Kentucky Wonder or the ever-popular haricot vert, a very thin, very French variety — the cooking principles are the same. Chlorophyll, the pigment that puts the green in green beans, is heat and acid sensitive. Too much of either, and you’ll end up with a bowl of olive drab beans.

Chlorophyll is also sensitive to the acids within the vegetable cells. It’s only after the cell membranes are altered by cooking that these acids are released and able to attack the pigment. If the cooking pot is covered, then the volatile acids condense on the underside of the lid and fall back into the pot. This results in ugly beans.

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