For the perfectionist in the garden or kitchen there is an optimal time for when to harvest green beans. A green bean picked too late can have a soggy, less tasteful bean pod with more chance of stringiness. Picked right on time a green beans can have a fresh crispiness and sweeter flavor.
Green beans come in different sizes, shapes, and colors and have different names including wax beans, French beans, string beans, bush beans, pole beans, haricots verts. All of these can be called green beans or snap beans. They get the name snap beans for the snap a crisp bean pod makes when broken in half.
The perfect time to harvest green beans is when they are still immature but have firmed up some. You want to catch them before the seeds have started bulging but have formed enough that the pod is firm to the pinch. A nice uniform thickness of about a pencil without bulging seeds is the sweet zone to harvest.
Green beans at this stage are perfect for sautéing. After you see flowers on the bean plant expect to be harvesting beans about a week later. If you end up not picking beans on time and leaving them on the pods don’t worry they are still good to eat. Experiment with them and if nothing else boil them up.
You can even leave them on until the pod dries and turns brown. This is the simplest way to store beans for the winter and you just treat the mature beans like any other dry bean when cooking.
Best Time of Day to Pick Green Beans
The time of picking affects both the taste and the keeping power of the veggies. The best time of day to pick green beans is in the early morning before the sun has turned up but after the morning dew has dried, around 9 AM. This is the best time to pick most vegetables from the garden. If you pick the green beans while they are still wet just dry them before storing.
At night time vegetables replenish moisture lost during the day and make sugars from the starches they produced during the day. Green beans harvested in the morning will be sweeter, juicier and more crisp. Pick beans the morning of the day you plan to cook them for optimal flavor.
If harvested during the hot daytime vegetables will be mushier and also will not keep as long in the refrigerator. The rate of moisture loss is what affects how long a vegetable will keep and during the day the moisture loss is at its highest. A smooth transition from cool beans picked in the morning to stored beans in the refrigerator will result in the least moisture loss.
How to Harvest Green Beans
A green bean plant will produce over a period of time so it’s important to not damage the plant when harvesting green beans. Hold the vine where the stem and vine meet with one hand and with the other the top of the green bean you are harvesting. Pull the green bean gently until it comes off the stem or pinch or cut the stem right above the bean. If you pull the pod too agressively you might tear the pod where it connects to the stem and that green bean won’t store as well.
How Do You Store Green Beans?
- Store fresh picked green beans in the refrigerator in a plastic bag preferably in a crisper drawer for up to a week.
- Blanch the green beans by placing them in boiling water for 3 minutes and then immediately putting them into ice water for 3 minutes. Put them in a plastic bag with as little air as possible in the sealed bag. The beans will keep their bright green color this way and will be good for up to a year.
- Canning green beans is a great choice if you have a large amount of green beans but it requires a pressure canner and mason jars. Here’s an article that teaches how to can green beans.
- The easiest way to store beans for later is to let the dry on the vine. Once pods have turned brown and dried out take collect them off the vine. Discard the dried pods and store dried beans in airtight containers or jars. At this point they’re treated the same way as any other dried bean and can store for years.
How Long Do Green Beans Take to Grow?
Bush green beans arrive a little earlier than pole varieties and are ready to harvest in 50-60 days. After flowering the first batch of green beans should be ready to harvest in about 10 days. Bush green beans typically produce for about two weeks and harvesting beans on time will promote continued growth throughout the plants productive cycle.
Pole green bean varieties take a little longer to mature and are typically ready to harvest in 60-70 days. Pole beans will produce for a longer time than bush varieties, they will produce for about a month. After flowering you should have beans to harvest in 10 days.
How Many Green Beans Per Plant?
A bush green bean will produce around 15 pods per plant or 80 beans per plant. A pole variety green bean will produce more, around 25 pods per plant or 150 beans per plant. Timely harvesting of beans will encourage the most yield of beans form the plants.
In 2017 Green Giant made a Guinness World Record with a 637 lb. green bean casserole. In 2019 Green Giant upped the stakes and made a 1,009 lb. green bean casserole. The casserole was served to elderly people in the New York area by Meals on Wheels.
The casserole was comprised of 1,069 cans of Green Giant Cut Green Beans, 485 cans of mushroom soup, 65 quarts of milk and 95 pounds of French fried onions. It took a team of ten chefs from Stella 34 Trattoria in Macy’s Herald Square eight hours to prep and cook the 1,009-pound serving. The average bake time for a typical serving of green bean casserole is 25 minutes.PRN News Release – 1,009 pound green bean casserole made for Thanksgiving by Green Giant