How to Pick the Best Green Beans

Here's what to look for when choosing the perfect green beans for a fresh summer potluck.

It’s time to pick up some of the season’s most delectable green beans! Whether you’re making a fresh green bean salad or steaming ’em in a foil packet on the grill, you want a sweet and tender bean with snap. (Forget about the sad-looking beans with brown spots.) If you’re not sure exactly how to pick green beans, you’ve come to the right place. Here are top insider tips to help you along the way:

Check out the color

The first thing you want to do is check out the color. As its name suggests, a green bean should be green! If you find that the beans at your grocery store or farmers market have a yellowish (or brownish) hue, that’s a sign that something is wrong. Instead, look for fresh beans that are brightly colored and stand out when it comes to their vibrancy. Can’t wait to cook them? Try these delicious green bean recipes.

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Look at the surface of the bean

The skin should be smooth and tight. If you find that the skin has weathered bumps, lumps and creases, that’s a problem. The surface tells you a lot about how the beans might taste. You don’t want overripe beans, so give any blemished bushels a pass.

Make sure they snap

When beans are at their mid-summer peak, they should snap. Look for a brightly colored bean that feels firm. Bend the pod and wait until you hear that all-too-familiar snapping sound. When the beans are ripe, they should snap quickly and easily. You don’t have to snap every bean, but testing one in every batch is a surefire way to make sure the ones you’re picking will be delicious!

PsstHere are more ways to make sure produce is ripe.

Avoid beans that are too large

For green beans, you might think that “bigger is better.” Nothing could be further from the truth. When they’re too large or excessively thick, you might find that beans get tough or stringy. You’ll lose that sharp, fresh green bean flavor, too.

Don’t miss our guide on how cook the perfect green beans—four ways!

Feel for moisture

When green beans are old and dry, they lack the sweet flavor we know and love. You can tell how dry the beans are by touching them. To keep the beans moist and fresh, store them in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer in a plastic bag. (Don’t worry about rinsing them or snapping the ends off ’til you’re ready to cook.) Get to know if you can eat raw green beans.

Try more of our farmers market favorites.
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Charlotte Grainger
Charlotte Grainger is a creative feature writer, with a flair for food, health and lifestyle pieces. Her work has been seen in a number of national publications including Beyond Words Magazine, Reader's Digest and Psychologies. When she’s not typing away, you can find her trying out new recipes or binging Netflix shows— sometimes simultaneously.