String bean, snap bean, green bean, yellow wax bean
These are usually eaten in the pod. The French call it “haricot vert”, and the Germans named it “Buschbohne”.
They can grow as either a pole bean or a bush bean. This group of beans contains a considerable variety.
It can be dwarf or climbing; pods can be flat, oval, or round; colours can be yellow, green, purple, or marbled, although the purple variety
turns green when cooked. It is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as of iron and potassium.
String beans, now called green beans, were so named because of the “string” that ran down the length of the back of the bean pod. Today, that string has been bred out of most varieties of green beans, but you can still find it in wax beans (yellow beans) and in haricots verts, the true French green bean.
Italian green beans, also known as Romano beans
are flat and broad sometimes having twice the weight of snap beans.
Chinese yard long green beans
are a close relative of the black-eyed pea and can measure up to eighteen inches in length. They have a slightly crunchier texture, but a good flavour.
Green beans have six times more beta carotene than yellow beans, but both are high in vitamin C. However, storing them for three days in the refrigerator will deplete that amount to about 36%.
Evidence of the wild form has been found in Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of the Andes, including Peruvian settlements from 8000 BCE.
Both the bush and climbing varieties were introduced to Europe during the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. Dwarf varieties did not become popular for another two centuries.
These beans were first commonly referred to as kidney beans by the English in 1551, alluding to the shape of the seeds.
In Europe, haricot vert was used in ships stores on voyages of exploration during the 1500s. When European colonists first explored the Americas, they found climbing beans planted with maize, which provided starch and protein for the indigenous tribes.
Kenya beans are varieties with almost knitting needle thin, seedless pods imported from Africa. They are highly prized and expensive.