I've seen this in a couple of seed catalogs..."filet-type" green bean. What is this? And what is a "stringless" green bean? Sounds like one that would be good to have, but then what's wrong with the ones that are not stringless?
String beans have a tough fiber string running down the front and back of the pod. For use as a snap bean, they must be "strung" (the strings removed). Most modern snap beans are stringless ie without strings. Stringbeans are for the most part older pole bean cultivars or those designed as shelling beans. French Filet beans are seeing an increase in popularity in the USA,. Some are stringless, some are not, but all are designed to eat as baby snap beans at 1/8 to 1/4 inch in diameter. Most of them are tough and fibrous when full grown. As a class they are a slender round podded bean.
Strings are somewhat difficult to remove completely, so many people are turned off. My wife will not eat them altho I think they have more flavor than the stringless types.
Are string beans still tough when cooked? I want to grow beans like the kind you get in a standard can of green beans. And my husband wants snap beans (to eat raw I guess??). I think I remember string beans (at least the term, anyway) from when I was a kid. My parents had a fairly large garden, and mom did a lot of canning. I don't remember any tough beans, though.
Snap beans (the kind your husband likes to eat) is the most popular green bean. The name comes from the sound it makes when the ends are snapped off to remove the strings that run along the seam of older varieties. As Farmerdill notes most of the snap beans you find today (and probably most of the ones you get out of a can) no longer have strings.
The haricot verts is the slender French version of the American snap bean--or as you know also called the French bean.
As for preparing and eating: you'll probably find fresh green beans tastiest eaten just picked but you could store them in the refrigerator up to a week in a plastic bag--squeeze out as much air from the bag as possible first and do not wash the beans until you are ready to use them (wet stored beans will spoil quicker).
Steaming the beans for just 5 minutes will deliver tender, bright colored beans. Cook them whole to ensure even cooking. (Easy steaming: fill the bottom of the steamer with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Add vegetables. Cover the steamer for 5 minutes. And you are done.)
For best flavor steam until the beans are tender on the outside and still slightly firm on the inside. If you cook the beans longer they will begin to lose their texture and flavor--and nutrients!
Snap actually get their name from the fact that they are broken ( snapped into pieces) to cook. They are brittle and make a snapping sound. How they are cooked depends almost entirely on your taste buds and culture. I am an old time southerner, who likes his snap beans boiled in an iron kettle for several hours with salt pork and topped with new potatoes. Crunchy snap beans are not for me. But to each his own. Some cultivars of bush bean, you may wish to consider are Blue Lake bush, Provider, Jade, Burpee's Stringless Greenpod, Tendercrop ... The purple cultivars cook green and are also good like Royal Burgundy. Most of the regular canned green beans will be versions of the bush Blue Lake.
Thank you. Yes, I remember snapping the ends of the beans off and snapping them into smaller pieces in preparation for cooking & canning. I don't recall having to remove any strings, so maybe my parents didn't grow the string variety. Thank you for the information. It will help me make my ordering choices. Maybe next year (2010) I will be able to try pole beans, but I think I'll have my hands full getting new beds ready this year, and won't have time or $$ for making/buying supports for pole beans.
I personally favor the French Filet types because they are long, slender (for some reason I don't like fat string beans!), and tender. I used to grow only the bush varieties but then found a wonderful combination at Renees Garden (http://www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/packpg/veg/bean-duet.htm). The package contains beans for two varieties: Yellow Ramdor and the Green Emerite. I have grown these for 3 years with 100% germination rate. Once they start producing they never stop until frost. Even when they get large they do not become tough. My husband is crazy about these beans because he doesn't have to bend over to harvest them and they taste good! I just took some 5 ft. fencing and bent it into a horseshoe shape and attached it to stakes. It is no work to maintain, takes up less space and fun to enjoy. I plant both inside the curve and outside. Like Farmerdill I like my beans cooked but not for hours - steaming them until tender is fine with me, then add butter and salt - yum!
I also love French Filet beans. They are so tender and delicious if picked early.
The other bush bean that I cannot imagine living without are Dragon Tongue beans. They are large, flat, yellow pots with purple streaks. The beans are so tender and rich and taste almost like they have already been buttered. I pick them at about 7 inches long and they are still tender.
Funny you should mention the Dragon Tongue, since that is the only Bush Bean I planted two years ago. I was intrigued by the color but must admit I had to psychologically adjust to eating beans with such an unusual "color pattern". I really should try them again this year and give them a second chance since I have left over seeds. I only had a few plants so didn't get as many samples. Thanks for reminding me about those!!