If you have a home-grown supply of wax beans, consider yourself lucky.
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Wax beans — which are often yellow in color, but can also be purple or green — are low in fat, high in fiber and rich in nutrients like vitamin A, according to the USDA. Wax beans boast 21 percent DV of vitamin C, 5 percent DV potassium and 5 percent DV iron for just 31 calories per cup.
With a milder flavor and firmer texture than their green bean cousins, wax beans can be cooked in a variety of ways. To preserve water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C, however, you should choose methods that don't involve much contact with water, according to the University of Maine.
How to Pick the Perfect Wax Beans
The beans are ready to be picked from the garden when they're straight and slender, per the University of Maine.
You want to pick the beans when they are mature, and not wait until they become over-mature. You'll be able to see the actual beans bulging in the pods if they are over-mature. Over-mature beans will be tough, stringy and have a starchy taste.
How to Cook Wax Beans
Preparing Wax Beans
No matter what cooking method you choose to use on your wax beans, you'll want to prep your beans with the same three steps:
- Place the wax beans in a colander or strainer. Rinse them thoroughly under cool running water.
- Snap or cut off the stem ends of each bean. Slice the beans into smaller pieces, if desired. For sweet-tasting, crisp, fresh beans, you'll want to cut them as little as possible. More mature beans will do better if you cut them in the French-cut style.
- Set the beans aside on a large plate. Pat them dry with a paper or kitchen towel.
Once you've cleaned and prepped your beans, you'll have to decide how you want to cook them. Consider the following methods, and test out a few to see which you like best.
How to Steam Wax Beans
- Fill a large saucepan or stockpot with 1 to 2 inches of water. Put a steamer insert into the pot.
- Place the wax beans into the steamer insert. Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
- Steam for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove a bean and check that it is cooked to your desired level of tenderness.
How to Roast Wax Beans
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the oven heats up, place the prepared wax beans on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss the beans with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil. Feel free to add any other spices and seasonings.
- Arrange the beans so that they are in a single layer on the baking sheet and don't overlap. Roast the beans for about 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway through so they cook evenly.
- At the 20 minute mark, carefully check several beans to ensure they've been cooked to your desired level of tenderness.
- When the beans are cooked to your preference, remove the baking sheet and allow the beans to slightly cool before serving.
How to Microwave Wax Beans
- Place the beans into a microwave-safe bowl. Add water, using approximately 2 tablespoons for every 1 1/2 pounds of beans you plan to cook.
- Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe dish or lid. Microwave the beans on the highest setting for 2 minutes.
- Uncover the beans and stir them. Replace the lid and continue to microwave on high in 1-minute intervals, stirring after each minute, until the beans are as tender as want them to be.
How to Stir-Fry Wax Beans
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet or a wok. Put the prepared wax beans into the oil.
- Stir the beans constantly using a spatula or wooden spoon. Stir-fry them for between 2 and 3 minutes. Add in any other veggies you may want.
- Add your choice of seasonings, spices or sauces, if desired, such as salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, vinegar or soy sauce. Continue to stir-fry the beans, stirring them constantly, for approximately 4 more minutes.