Green Beans: From Farm To Table
By Bruce Wolcott
Vice President, Marketing
Low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins and antioxidants, green beans are just about the most perfect food you can eat. Their dietary benefits are numerous: they boost the immune system, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, promote bone health, and even help ease constipation! Plus, they have so many uses: perfect in salads, stews, casseroles or all by themselves to snack on. And, they come in a variety for forms: Canned, fresh and frozen.
The origins of green beans can be traced to Latin America, where Spanish explorers found and brought them back to Europe in the 16th century. Since then they’ve propagated the world, finding a place in cuisines of many cultures and nationalities.
"Blue Lake" green beans, the variety used for processing into cans or frozen packaging can be grown in many regions, but cooler climates such as those in Wisconsin and Minnesota are preferred.
Planting begins in mid-May with optimal soil temperature at 50° F. With normal growing conditions, harvest is 58 – 60 days later. Periodic rains, average temperatures between 60° and 70° F and lots of sunshine will result in bumper crops. But of course, few growing seasons are perfect, so each crop yield is unique.
The individual bushes are planted in rows 30 inches apart, with 2 inches between each plant. (All planting and harvesting are guided by GPS, among the most beneficial technology innovations ever to happen to farming.) Bushes average 15 to 30 green beans apiece, grouped in clusters of three to five. When ready for harvest the beans are bright green in color with small white seeds embedded in the flesh. And they are easy to snap in two…hence the term "snap beans".
Once harvested, it’s critical to get the beans processed as soon as possible to preserve their nutrient value, texture and flavor. Within six of hours from the field to the plant is the norm; 24 hours is the absolute maximum. Upon delivery, they are separated from their clusters, washed, graded, cut into bite-sized pieces and blanched (flash-cooked). Finally they are packed into cans and shipped off to grocery stores near you…enjoy!
READ GREEN BEANS: THE PERFECT SUMMER CROP HERE
For more from Seneca Foods, visit their website www.senecafoods.com.