You may have noticed that green beans are often labelled as string beans, or vice versa, in your local grocery store.
But is there a difference between green beans and string beans? Generally, they are two different names for the same type of beans.
In this article, we take a look at green beans and string beans, and why they have different names.
What Is The Difference Between Green Beans And String Beans?
There is no difference between string beans and green beans. They are the same type of beans, just with a different name.
Green beans have a range of different names across the world, including string beans and snap beans.
String beans is an old-fashioned name for green beans because all green beans used to have silky strings in the past.
This changed gradually over the last decades with hybridization of green bean types.
This means that the strings of green beans may be gone but the name “string beans” has remained.
When Did String Beans Become Green Beans?
String beans gradually lost their strings over time as scientists started to experiment with cross-breeding foods, such as wheat, grains and beans.
They wanted to create a green bean variety that tastes better and is easier to cook. The end result was a range of stringless beans
Calvin Keeney was the first one to develop snap beans without strings in 1889. Since then, hybrid beans have seen more and more changes over the years.
Do All Green Beans Look The Same?
No, different types of green beans can have different appearances. Some green beans are round and fleshy, while others or flat and wide.
The length and even the color of green beans can vary widely.
Different Names For Green Beans
Green beans have a number of different names but they all describe the same legume.
Both green beans and string beans are exactly the same legume. Green beans used to be called string beans because they had a fibrous string attached to their pod in the past.
Back then, people simply removed the string before the beans were cooked.
Today, green beans don’t have strings anymore, although you can still find them in some heirloom varieties.
You may also have heard the term snap beans. These beans refer to green beans and string beans.
The name “snap beans” is a reference to the snapping sound that green beans make when you break them into halves.
You will not always need to break green beans but many recipes require you to trim off the end of snap beans for cooking.
For example, when you want to steam or boil green beans, then you need to remove the end from the legumes to get a better flavor.
You can cut the ends off with a knife, although it’s very satisfying when you just snap the ends with your fingers.
Make sure that your snap beans are still in good shape when you buy them. They shouldn’t be rubbery or flabby as this means the beans aren’t good for cooking anymore.
Types Of String Beans
There is a large range of different green beans which are slightly different in taste in appearance.
Here are a few of the most common green bean types.
Purple String Beans
You can spot purple beans almost instantly thanks to their purple pod color. Purple string beans are similar to wax beans.
While these uncooked beans look stunning, they lose their color when they are cooked. For this reason, purple beans are often eaten only lightly cooked or raw.
These delicious beans have the same crispy skin like every member of the bean family but their taste is very distinctive.
Purple string beans have a slightly earthy and sweet taste which makes them ideal as a snack and suitable for a raw diet.
The purple color of these beans doesn’t just make them look very pretty but they also have a range of health benefits for the immune system and our heart.
Yellow Wax Beans
These tasty wax beans have a subtle yellow color which makes them stand out from the crowd.
Unlike traditional green beans, yellow wax beans don’t contain any chlorophyll. That’s the reason why these beans look so pale.
Despite their differences in appearance, green beans and wax beans taste very similar. They both have a sweet and grassy flavor which makes them ideal as a side dish.
Yellow wax beans are occasionally preferred to some other beans, such as purple string beans, because they can hold their color much better when cooked.
Many people also often use this name to describe traditional green beans.
Although haricot verts translates to French green beans, these beans are slightly different to other kinds of beans.
Despite their misleading name, haricot verts actually don’t come from France.
These delicious beans are native to Central and South America where they have been harvested for centuries.
Similar to green beans, haricot verts can be steamed or boiled which is ideal for traditional Asian dishes.
One of the key differences between haricot verts and green beans is the way they look. Haricot verts beans are a little straighter, slimmer and longer than green beans.
They are also different when it comes to taste. Haricot verts taste more refined and you can cook them much faster.
Romano beans have a characteristic flat and wide shape. Also known as Helda beans, Italian green beans or flat beans, they come in purple, yellow or green.
Romano beans have a much more subtle taste than other types of beans, and their distinctive sweetness balances well with the crunchy bean skin.
Romano beans are ideal with some plain rice, nuts or fresh fruit.
However, they take longer to cook than green beans, although you can also boil or steam them.
When you roast or braise Romano beans, then you can extract some more of the sweetness that these beans are so well-known for.
Beans are a very broad category of legumes and long beans prove that bean classification isn’t always straightforward.
Long beans don’t actually belong to the same family as green beans. However, they are often mentioned in the same way as green beans.
Long beans also have a few different names, such as Chinese long beans, pea beans, snake beans or yardlong beans.
Saying this, long beans have a green color but they are much longer than normal green beans. These beans are harvested when they are 18 inches long.
Most yardlong beans have a wrinkled texture and they are not quite straight. This makes them not just fun to look at but they also taste delicious as a snack.
However, the texture of long beans means that they shouldn’t be cooked with liquids. The best way to prepare pea beans is by boiling or steaming them.
You can also deep-fry or sauté these beans with plenty of seasoning.
They can often be found in traditional Chinese dishes because they pair so well with the large amount of oil in these dishes.
How To Store Green Beans
Although there is a large variety of green beans, they all need to be stored in a similar way.
The best way to store green bean varieties is by placing them into the crisper section of your fridge.
Some people also recommend to put the beans into a plastic bag, so they stay fresh for longer.
We recommend that you eat your green beans within 7 days as after this time, the beans may lose their taste.
How To Enjoy Green Beans
Green beans are ideal as a side dish for any meal, including Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving.
Just boil, steam or stir-fry your string beans and they will turn deliciously soft with a little crunch.
Another way to enjoy green beans is by deep-frying them, and this will turn them into green bean tempura.
If you want to keep your green beans a little longer, then we recommend pickled green beans.
String beans and green beans are exactly the same kind of beans. Except for the name, there is no difference between them. They are all part of the green bean family.