Green beans are a staple of many diets around the world, prized for their fresh taste, vibrant color, and numerous health benefits. From the classic string bean to the long and slender yardlong bean, there are many different types and varieties to choose from. Each one has its own unique flavor, texture, and culinary uses, making them a versatile and essential ingredient in any kitchen.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most popular types and varieties of green beans, with names and pictures to help you identify them. We’ll take a closer look at their unique characteristics, from the tender and meaty Romano bean to the buttery and starchy Lima bean. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener, a professional chef, or simply a lover of fresh and flavorful produce, there’s something here for everyone.
So sit back, relax, and prepare to learn all about the wonderful world of green beans. Whether you prefer them steamed, sautéed, roasted, or grilled, we’ll help you find the perfect bean for any occasion. With so many delicious and nutritious varieties to choose from, you’re sure to find a new favorite in no time. So let’s dive in and start exploring the wonderful world of green beans!
Where Do Green Beans Come From?
Green beans originated in Central and South America, where there is evidence that they have been cultivated in Mexico and Peru for thousands of years. Columbus brought green beans back to Europe from his second exploratory voyage in 1493.
There are actually more than 500 types of green beans available for cultivation, not every cultivar is green, some are purple, red, or even striated, although the bean inside will always be green. Green beans were originally grown with corn by Native Americans. The beans would use the corn as a pole and grow them.
Green beans are young, unripe fruits of various cultivars of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), although immature or young pods of the runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus), yardlong bean (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis), and hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) are used in a similar way.
Green beans are harvested and consumed with their enclosing pods before the bean seeds inside have fully matured. An analogous practice is the harvest and consumption of unripened pea pods, as is done with snow peas or sugar snap peas.
Today, green beans are grown in a variety of regions around the world, including the United States, China, and India. They are a warm-season crop, typically planted in the spring and harvested in the summer and fall. Green beans are a member of the legume family, which also includes peas, lentils, and chickpeas, and are known for their high nutritional value.
Different Types & Varieties of Green Beans
1. Snap Beans
Also known as string beans or pole beans. Has a crunchy texture with a sweet and grassy flavor. Snap beans are a popular type of green bean that gets its name from the satisfying sound they make when snapped in half.
These beans are typically harvested when they are young and tender, and their texture is crispy and crunchy. One of the best things about snap beans is their versatility in cooking; they can be enjoyed raw in salads, steamed, stir-fried, roasted, or canned.
Common varieties: Blue Lake, Kentucky Wonder, and French Filet.
2. Yardlong Beans
Yardlong beans, also known as asparagus beans or snake beans, are a type of green bean that originated in Southeast Asia but are now widely grown in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world. These beans are named for their long and slender shape, which can range from 14 to 30 inches in length, depending on the variety. They have a slight curve and are usually harvested when they are young and tender.
Yardlong beans have a unique flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty, with a crunchy texture similar to asparagus. They are often used in stir-fries, soups, and salads, and can be cooked in a variety of ways. In Chinese cuisine, they are often paired with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, while in Thai cuisine, they are commonly used in spicy curries and stir-fries. In Indonesia, they are often used in vegetable stews and salads.
Common varieties: Chinese Red Noodle, Black Seeded, and Purple Podded.
3. Lima Beans
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are a type of legume that are native to South America but are now grown in many parts of the world. They are named for their flat and oval shape, which is reminiscent of a lima seed. Lima beans are often used in stews, soups, casseroles, and salads, and are a popular ingredient in Southern cuisine.
Lima beans have a unique texture that is both buttery and starchy, and they have a subtle sweet and earthy flavor. They are rich in protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, and folate. Lima beans are also low in fat and calories, making them a healthy and nutritious addition to any meal.
Common varieties: Fordhook, Henderson, and Baby Lima
4. Fava Beans
Fava beans, also known as broad beans, are a type of legume that has been cultivated for thousands of years. These beans are native to North Africa and Southwest Asia, but are now grown all over the world. Fava beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and a range of essential vitamins and minerals, making them a popular ingredient in many cuisines.
One of the defining characteristics of fava beans is their creamy and nutty flavor, which pairs well with a variety of herbs and spices. However, their mealy texture can make them difficult to cook, and they often need to be peeled and boiled before use in recipes.
Common varieties: Windsor, Broad Windsor, and Super Aquadulce.
5. Romano Beans
Romano beans, also known as Italian flat beans, are a type of green bean that is popular in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. They are named for their wide and flat shape, which can range from 4 to 7 inches in length, and are typically harvested when they are young and tender. Romano beans have a meaty texture and a mild flavor that is slightly sweeter than other types of green beans.
Romano beans are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. They are often boiled or steamed and served as a side dish, or used in soups, stews, and salads. In Italian cuisine, they are often paired with tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil, while in Mediterranean cuisine, they are commonly used in bean salads and vegetable dishes.
Common varieties: Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco, Dragon Tongue, and Italian Pole.
6. Wax Beans
Wax beans, also known as yellow beans, are a variety of green bean that is characterized by its bright yellow color and waxy appearance. These beans are a popular ingredient in many cuisines, thanks to their mild flavor and crispy texture.
One of the defining features of wax beans is their glossy and waxy appearance, which makes them stand out on the plate. This appearance is due to the presence of a natural wax coating on the surface of the bean, which helps to protect it from moisture loss and damage.
In terms of flavor, wax beans are known for their mild and slightly sweet taste, which pairs well with a range of spices and seasonings. Their crispy texture also makes them an excellent addition to salads and stir-fries, as well as a popular side dish on their own.
Wax beans can be prepared in a variety of ways, depending on personal preference and the recipe being used. They can be steamed, boiled, roasted, or grilled, and can be seasoned with everything from salt and pepper to garlic, lemon, and herbs.
Overall, wax beans are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can add color, flavor, and texture to a wide range of dishes. Whether you’re a fan of classic green beans or are looking to try something new, wax beans are definitely worth adding to your culinary repertoire.
Common varieties: Golden Wax, Cherokee Wax, and Slenderwax.
7. Purple Beans
Purple beans, also known as purple-podded beans, are a type of green bean that is characterized by its stunning, deep purple color. These beans are not only beautiful to look at, but they also offer a range of health benefits and a unique flavor profile.
One of the most striking features of purple beans is their vivid color, which can range from deep purple to bright pink depending on the variety. This color is due to the presence of anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
In terms of flavor, purple beans are known for their tender and sweet taste, which is slightly milder than traditional green beans. Their texture is also slightly more delicate, making them an ideal ingredient for light and refreshing salads, or as a side dish alongside grilled meats and fish.
Purple beans can be prepared in a variety of ways, depending on personal preference and the recipe being used. They can be steamed, sautéed, roasted, or grilled, and can be seasoned with a range of herbs and spices to enhance their flavor profile.
Common varieties: Royal Burgundy, Purple Teepee, and Amethyst.
Best Green Beans to Plant
- Blue Lake 274 – Blue Lake 274 is a popular variety that is known for its heavy yield and short producing period, making it ideal for canning and freezing.
- Romano Bush – The Romano Bush is another popular variety, with broad, flat pods and a heavy yield that is perfect for Italian-inspired dishes.
- Bush Kentucky Wonder –This variety has become quite popular due to its ability to adapt to most regions and consistently produce a bountiful harvest. You’ll find that the pods of these beans are straight and slender, making them perfect for cooking up a storm in the kitchen! The Bush Kentucky Wonder green beans are not only tasty but also very nutritious, packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy diet. They’re also versatile and can be enjoyed in many different ways – from sautéing, boiling, steaming, and even pickling. So whether you’re making a classic green bean casserole or adding them to your favorite stir-fry, these beans will surely impress your taste buds.
- Beananza – Another interesting variety of green bean to try is the Beananza. This is a French filet variety that was developed by Burpee. Despite its small size, this plant packs a big punch in terms of flavor and nutrition. It only grows to about 15 inches in height, making it a great choice for those who have limited space in their gardens.
- Purple Queen – For those who want a little bit of color in their garden, the Purple Queen variety is a great option. This bush bean has beautiful purple pods and is an early producer that is resistant to disease and cold weather. Not only does it add some visual interest to your garden, but it also provides a delicious and nutritious addition to your meals.
- Big Kahuna – If you’re looking for a smaller variety, the Beananza french filet green bean may be just what you need. This variety is developed by Burpee and is a very small plant, only growing to about 15 inches in height. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something a little larger, the Big Kahuna variety also developed by Burpee may be more your style. This plant will produce the largest beans of any bush type plant with beans around 12 inches long.
- Cherokee Wax – This is a yellow pod variety that produces black beans and is good fresh or for freezing and canning. The Purple Queen variety is also a unique option, with purple pods and an early producing season that is resistant to disease and cold weather..
- Rattlesnake Pole – If you’re looking for a green bean that looks as good as it tastes, Rattlesnake Pole might just be the perfect pick. This heirloom variety boasts striking green pods with purple streaks that can add some visual interest to your garden or dinner table. And it’s not just about the looks – these pods are also delicious, growing to a satisfying 8-12 inches in length.
But here’s the kicker: Rattlesnake Pole isn’t just a pretty face. It’s also incredibly resilient, thriving in hot climates and sandy soils. Plus, it’s adaptable to a wide range of regions, so you can enjoy its unique flavor and appearance no matter where you live. So if you’re looking to add some variety to your garden (and our plate), Rattlesnake Pole is definitely worth a shot.
- Yardlong Bean – These beans are known for their impressively long pods, which can range anywhere from 1.5 to 3 feet in length! Not only are they a conversation starter, but they also attract a variety of pollinators that can be beneficial to other plants in your garden.
Yardlong beans are also known as asparagus beans or snake beans, and they are native to Asia. They have a long and cylindrical shape with a slight curve, and they can be green, purple, or yellow in color. In addition to their striking appearance, they also have a delicious flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty.
- Kentucky Wonder Pole – Kentucky Wonder Pole beans are a popular heirloom variety that has been grown for over 100 years. These beans are versatile and can be used in many dishes such as soups, salads, and casseroles. They are known for their sweet and nutty flavor with a crisp texture. The beans grow on a vine that can climb up to 8-12 feet tall, making them a great option for small gardens or for vertical gardening.
One of the unique characteristics of the Kentucky Wonder Pole bean is its ability to produce a large yield throughout the growing season. As the plant grows, it produces more and more beans, making it a great choice for those who want a continuous harvest. Additionally, the Kentucky Wonder Pole bean is known to be disease-resistant and able to grow in many different types of soil, making it a reliable option for gardeners in a variety of regions.
- Emerite – Emerite is a popular green bean variety that is known for its heavy yield and unique, filet-style shape. This variety of bean is believed to have originated from one of the oldest French breeders and has since gained popularity all around the world. Its name, which translates to “winner” in French, perfectly captures the essence of this bean, which has won the hearts of many gardeners and food enthusiasts alike.
One of the key characteristics of Emerite is its long, slender shape. These beans can grow up to 8 inches long, making them perfect for use in stir-fries, salads, or as a simple side dish. They are also known for their tender texture and sweet flavor, which makes them a favorite among many gardeners and cooks. Emerite beans are a type of filet bean, which means that they are thin and narrow, with a delicate skin that can be eaten along with the flesh.
- Fortex – Fortex is a popular variety of green bean that is known for its long and round shape, as well as its tender and delicious pods. These beans are highly sought after by home gardeners and professional chefs alike, thanks to their versatility and ease of growing. In fact, Fortex is often considered to be one of the best varieties of green beans available on the market today.
The pods of Fortex beans are typically between 6 and 11 inches long, with a smooth and glossy surface that is a bright green color. They have a firm and crunchy texture, and a sweet and nutty flavor that is beloved by many. These beans are often used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, salads, and soups, as well as being served as a side dish on their own..
- Purple King – Purple King is a stunning variety of green bean that is highly valued for its vibrant purple pods. The plant produces uniform snap beans that grow to be around 5-6 inches in length. These beans are both eye-catching and delicious, with a tender and sweet flavor that is perfect for adding color and texture to a variety of dishes. Purple King beans are a versatile addition to any garden, and they are easy to grow, making them an excellent choice for both novice and experienced gardeners.
One of the most notable characteristics of Purple King beans is their stunning appearance. The deep purple pods are a rare and unique sight in the garden and can add a pop of color to any dish. The beans are uniform in size and shape, making them easy to harvest and prepare. The plants are also hardy and resistant to many common garden pests and diseases, which makes them an excellent choice for gardeners looking for a low-maintenance crop.
- Navarro – Navarro is a delicious and healthy variety of green bean that is widely grown in Italy and around the world. These beans are known for their fleshy and tender pods, which are packed with flavor and nutrients. They are a favorite of many home gardeners and chefs, thanks to their versatility and ease of use.
The pods of Navarro beans are typically long and thin, with a slightly curved shape and a bright green color. They have a soft and fleshy texture, which makes them ideal for cooking in a variety of dishes. These beans are particularly well-suited for use in Italian cuisine, where they are often paired with pasta, tomatoes, and other flavorful ingredients.