Savannah Valley District

Homemaker’s Column: What’s Sunday without Green Beans?

Christine J. Patrick, County Extension Agent – EFNEP

Green beans are a staple when it comes to Sunday meals. Old-timers called them string beans. However, today’s varieties have had most of the string bred out of them. They’re also called snap beans because of their sound when you break them in two. Whatever type you like – Blue Lake, half-runners, or pole beans – they are all green beans and delicious.

They are also low in calories and healthy addition to the family’s dinner table. Without added fat, green beans are a dieter’s dream come true, containing fewer than 25 calories per half-cup serving and a fair amount of vitamins A and C. Fatback may add flavor, but it also adds lots of calories and fat. Daily, extra calories lead to excess weight, which contributes to a higher risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Fortunately, you don’t need fat to add flavor to green beans. Water flavored with bouillon works well. It adds a faint meat flavor without overriding the taste of the beans. When you cook with bouillon, you will usually not need to add any more salt. Small pieces of very lean ham added to the pot add a nice flavor. A half-cup of ham is enough to flavor two to three pounds of green beans. Trim away any fat on the ham before adding it to the pot.

If you plan to serve ham slices and green beans at the same meal, just put the ham in the same pot with the beans, making sure to trim away the fat first. With this strategy, you only have to add corn on the cob, sliced tomatoes, and maybe a deviled egg or two for a colorful, tasty, relatively low-calorie meal. Green beans are available year-round, but they are at their peak from May to October.

When shopping, select slender beans that are crisp, bright-colored, and free of blemishes. They will store in the refrigerator tightly wrapped in a plastic bag for up to five days. When most gardeners plant green beans, they usually plant more than their families can eat at one time. Fortunately, it is easy to can/freeze them for use year-round. They also make fantastic pickles. For more information on green beans, check out the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center on the web at

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