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All about “Common bean”

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Fresh common bean is a vegetable found on our stalls during the summer. Until recently, the yellow beans, or butter beans, were mainly consumed in North America, while Europe has always had a marked predilection for green beans.

Characteristics of fresh common bean:

  • Low in calories;
  • Rich in fiber;
  • Source of vitamin C;
  • Stimulates intestinal transit;
  • Boosts the immune system.

What is fresh common bean?

Fresh bean identity card

  • Type: Vegetable;
  • Family: Fabaceae;
  • Origin: South America, Africa, Asia;
  • Season: July to September;
  • Color: Green or yellow;
  • Flavor: Sweet.

Characteristics of fresh common bean

Fresh common beans grow on a climbing plant. They are picked in summer when they have reached the appropriate size.

Differences with nearby foods

A star vegetable in vegetable gardens and “boiled”, fresh common beans are often mistakenly called “broad beans” by Quebecers. In reality, the two terms do not belong to the same botanical family. Native to America, the fresh bean has become very prominent in France, where the green and thin varieties are very popular. Yellow or green, raw or cooked, the bean delights our taste buds while providing us with an abundance of nutrients.

Word from the nutritionist

One serving of fresh common bean corresponds to 150 to 200g of beans.

Nutritional values

For 100g of green beans:

Nutrients                                                             Quantities                                                          
Protein 2 g
Fat 0.17 g
Carbohydrates 3 g
Water 89.3 g
Fibers 4 g
Vitamin C 5 mg
Vitamin B2 0.08 mg
Vitamin B9 33 µg
Magnesium 22.3 mg
Iron 0.6 mg
Manganese 0.19 mg


10 benefits of fresh common beans: why eat them?

  1. An epidemiological study was conducted to analyze the effect of different foods on the risk of cancer of the esophagus and stomach. The results demonstrate an association between regular consumption of common beans (once or twice a week and more) and a lower risk of these two cancers.
  2. Some epidemiological studies associate high consumption of fruits and vegetables with better bone density in mature adults. With regard to fresh common beans, researchers observed in animals that it was one of the foods whose consumption led to a reduction in bone degradation.
  3. With more than 8 g per 125 ml (1/2 cup) serving, beans are a very high source of fiber. Dietary fibers, which are found only in plants, include a set of substances that are not digested by the body. A diet rich in fiber is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer and can satisfy the appetite by bringing more quickly the feeling of satiety. There are two main types of fiber (soluble and insoluble) that have different effects in the body: beans contain both. Insoluble fiber is credited with the ability to prevent constipation by increasing the volume of stool, while soluble fiber can help prevent cardiovascular disease and help control type 2 diabetes.
  4. Boiled beans are a source of magnesium for women and not for men, their needs being different. Magnesium participates in bone development, protein construction, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in energy metabolism and in the transmission of nerve impulses.
  5. Raw beans and boiled beans are sources of iron for men and not for women, their needs being different. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the production of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in food of vegetable origin is less absorbed by the organism than the iron contained in food of animal source. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored when it is consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.
  6. Raw beans and boiled beans are sources of manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.
  7. Raw beans and boiled beans are sources of vitamin B2 for women and not for men, their needs being different. The vitamin is also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
  8. Raw beans are a source of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the production of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus.
  9. Raw beans are a source of vitamin C. The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties. It also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron from plants and accelerates healing.
  10. Raw beans and boiled beans are sources of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the production of proteins that participate in blood clotting (both stimulating and inhibiting blood clotting). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in food, vitamin K is manufactured by bacteria present in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.

How to choose your fresh common bean

You must choose firm, fine and stain-free beans.

The different varieties

On our stalls, there are different varieties of fresh common beans which differ in shape and color. We thus find green beans, butter beans and snow peas.

Keep well

The bean fillet is difficult to keep, especially the extra fine which quickly loses its moisture. Put it in the fridge in a damp towel.

Snap beans can be kept for a week in the refrigerator. It freezes well after being blanched for two minutes. Preferably choose frozen varieties. You can ferment the snap after having cooked it for a few minutes in boiling salted water.

Preparation of fresh common bean

How to cook it? How to match it?

Although it can be eaten raw, the fillet bean deserves to be lightly blanched in salt water. If the water is hard, do not salt until the end of cooking to prevent the beans from hardening. If you want to keep beans with purple pods their beautiful color, they should be eaten raw or barely blanched. Otherwise, they turn green.

  • In Quebec, we celebrate the arrival of the first snacks while preparing the “boiled”, a sort of casserole made of braised beef and new potatoes, carrots and summer cabbage, onions (garnished of a clove) and yellow beans.
  • In Japan, beans are prepared by coating them, once cooked and cut in half, in a sauce composed of roasted nuts then crushed with a pestle, mirin, miso, soy sauce, dashi (seaweed broth) and d ‘a little bit of sugar.
  • Green bean tajine is made with veal shank, green beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, saffron, ginger, lemon peel candied and black olives. The meat is cooked with the vegetables (except the green beans) in a tagine (earthen dish with conical lid), a saucepan or in a pressure cooker. Towards the end of the cooking, add the spices, lemon peel, black olives and beans cut into pieces and simmer for about twenty minutes.
  • Butter bean: in Provence, it is served with a sauce of tomatoes, carrots and onions cooked with thyme, white wine, nutmeg and basil. It can also be steamed for a few minutes then brown in oil with garlic, onion, basil and halved cherry tomatoes.
  • Roman beans: in a salad with roasted turkey breast, chopped fennel, sweet onion, and moistened with a balsamic vinegar dressing. Or with pieces of blood orange, red onion rings, and a sherry vinegar vinaigrette, with orange zest and Meaux mustard.
  • In Georgia, cooked snow snacks are served with a sauce of red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and a good amount of chopped cilantro leaves. Let stand two hours for the flavors to blend.
  • Serve the hot beans with potatoes and a good vinaigrette. Or cold, with tomatoes and onions.
  • With orange wedges and roasted hazelnuts, coarsely ground and added in the rain at the end.
  • With peeled tomatoes, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and mint leaves.
  • With walnut kernels, radicchio and smoked bacon.
  • Finely cut and served with zucchini passed through the mandolin, after blanching for a few minutes. Add small sliced ​​mushrooms and season with dill, gray shallots and a white wine vinegar dressing. Refrigerate one hour before serving.
  • With yogurt, tomato and mint leaves.


Oral allergy syndrome
Beans are among the foods that can be accused of oral allergy syndrome. This syndrome is an allergic reaction to certain proteins from a range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. It affects some people with allergies to environmental pollens. This syndrome is almost always preceded by hay fever. Local symptoms limited to the mouth, lips and throat such as itching and burning sensations may then occur, then usually disappear within a few minutes after consuming or touching the offending food. In the absence of other symptoms, this reaction is not serious and consumption of beans should not be avoided systematically. However, it is recommended that you consult an allergist to determine the cause of reactions to plant foods.

History of fresh common bean

We are not sure of the origin of the term “bean”. It could come from the old French harigoter, which meant “cut into pieces” and which, by deformation, gave hericoq, a word designating a stew of mutton with beans. Unless it was borrowed from the Aztec Ayacolt, which designated a small legume harvested in South America.

Already during prehistoric times, women from Central and South America, where the plant comes from, harvested various varieties of wild beans. Thanks to excavations carried out in Ancash, Peru, we know that it was cultivated 7000 or 8000 years ago. However, it was not until the great explorations and the conquest of the New World that the first beans reached the coasts of Europe. Christopher Columbus first noticed them in Cuba; Cabeca de Vaca found them in Florida in 1528 and Jacques Cartier at the mouth of the St. Lawrence in 1535.

In 1528, Pope Clement VII received the first samples of beans, which he entrusted to Canon Pietro Valeriano. Out of curiosity, the latter will sow them in pots and later harvest the pods which he judges to be of excellent quality. Very quickly, they are grown all over northern Italy. When Catherine de Medici leaves for France to marry the future Henri II, Canon Pietro recommends that she bring a handful of beans in her luggage, because there is no better way to conquer a man than to satisfy her stomach. The bean will spread quickly in Provence, then in Languedoc, where it will quickly replace the bean of the traditional cassoulet.

Until recently, the yellow beans, or butter beans, were mainly consumed in North America, while Europe has always had a marked predilection for green beans.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the majority of Europeans would believe that the bean came from Asia, the reference works continuing to unintentionally spread this falsehood. It was not until the turn of the 20th century that all the light was shed on the origins of this vegetable, which is now cultivated all over the world.

If it is not certain that the Amerindians consumed the bean in the fresh state, the Europeans, them, quickly discovered the snap. As the old varieties quickly made threads and their husk became fibrous (what is called parchment), the French took the habit of harvesting the very young bean and very small diameter (extra fine, fine or needle ). It was therefore necessary to return to the field or to the vegetable patch every 24 or 36 hours, at the risk of it becoming fibrous. This gave birth to the fillet bean, famous throughout Europe for its finesse and delicate flavor. In English-speaking countries, it is called French bean or French filet.

Breeders have only developed cordless and parchment varieties of snap food that are late picking only about 100 years ago. Some old varieties with threads (sometimes called parchment) are still cultivated today because of their incomparable flavor, but the care they require make it a more expensive product, much sought after by the chefs of high-end restaurants.

For further

Organic gardening

In the vegetable garden, it is better to grow climbing beans (called “oars”) which take up less space than dwarf varieties. For all types (yellow or butter, green, purple, Roman, fillet), there are varieties with oars and dwarfs.

Harvested very young, snap beans can be treated like fillets. However, the unique flavor of real fillet beans justifies growing at least a few plants and putting some extra effort into them. Seedlings must be made consecutively (approximately every two weeks), as they are very sensitive to temperature extremes. Between the heat wave and the cold rains that summer can reserve for us, it is good to have plants of all ages, some of which at least will have a chance of fruiting in good conditions.

Although some gardeners recommend soaking bean seeds before sowing them, others do not recommend it in cold climates, as the seed may crack and rot if it is too wet.

Slugs are a serious problem for young bean plants. Try to treat with garlic “herbal tea” by spraying the soil well, where the adults are hiding. Beer is quite effective, too. We fill it with small containers that we bury so that the edge is flush with the ground. Attracted by the smell of beer, the slugs drown there … If you have a large garden, you may be interested in making your own beer, because the operation ends up being expensive.

Ecology and environment

Early in the history of the domestication of the bean, the Native Americans cultivated this plant in companion with corn and squash, each of these vegetables contributing in its own way to the good growth and the well-being of the other two. Thanks to its rigid stem, the corn provided support for the bean (of which there were only climbing varieties at the time) and enabled it to take advantage of the sun which it absolutely needed. As for the bean, which science would not discover until much later than it had, like the other legumes, the property of fixing nitrogen, it provided the corn and the squash with a first quality fertilizer.

Finally, thanks to its large leaves covering the ground, the squash provided the two others with a beneficial shade, protecting their roots from the strong solar rays which risked drying out the soil and hampering their growth. For its part, it took advantage of the space left between their rods to launch its creeping rods in all directions. With a rare ecological intelligence, this system, which will be called “the three sisters”, will persist in the indigenous communities until the advent of industrial agriculture.

This system, France has long taken over in part for the cultivation of the Tarbais bean. Very quickly, this bean was associated with corn, the stems of which serve as its guardian. The two plants have spread together in the Tarbes plain. For a long time, a corn seed and a bean seed were sown together. Today, in practically all the farms in the region, the beans are raised on nets stretched in the fields, but some rare peasants still practice staking on corn.

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