How Do I Choose the Best Pole Beans?

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  • Written By: David Bishop
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 20 May 2019
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Pole beans are a variety of green bean that grows on vines in a garden. These beans are a popular vegetable in the United States, particularly in the summer months, when fresh crops are coming in. Pole beans often can be found in season in some grocery stores and at farmer's markets and vegetable stands. Consumers looking for the freshest beans also may consider visiting a pick-your-own farm or growing their own beans in a backyard garden. When selecting beans, buyers should look for firm green beans that are free of blemishes.

In general, varieties of pole beans are slightly larger than snap and other types of green beans. This means they may take slightly longer to cook and do not substitute well in all recipes. Many cooks prefer to cook pole beans for longer periods of time to help break down the fibers or "strings" that hold the pods together.

While shoppers may be able to find beans in the produce section of the grocery store, fresher beans often can be found at farmer's markets. These markets also may have a wider selection of beans from which to choose and can provide information on when new crops will be available. Some of the lesser known varieties can only be found at farmer's markets and vegetable stands.


When purchasing beans, the most important thing to look for is freshness. A pole beans should be firm enough to snap into smaller pieces. Older beans may be limp or dried out and will not provide an appetizing dish at the dinner table. In general, the beans should be green, although the color is dependent on the variety.

Buyers also should look for beans that have been picked at the right time. Overripe beans tend to develop larger internal seeds that give them a bulging appearance. These should be avoided, because they can end up being too tough and fibrous to enjoy. Beans with obvious discoloration and blemishes also should be avoided. Buyers should sort carefully through the available beans to find the best pods in the batch.

Pole beans can be prepared fresh or stored for the winter months using canning or freezing techniques. Fresh beans should be prepared within three or four days of being picked from a garden. It is hard to know when beans were picked for market, so buyers may wish to cook fresh beans within a day or two of purchase. Pole beans should be kept in the refrigerator until it is time to cook them.



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