How to cook long beans
Chinese Long Beans: Tips on Growing Yard Long Bean Plants
If you like green beans, there's a humdinger of a bean out there. Occasionally found in most Americans' vegetable gardens, but a real staple in many Asian gardens, I give you the Chinese long bean, also known as the kidney bean, snake bean, or asparagus bean. So what is a yard long bean? Read on to find out more.
What is a yard long bean?
In my forest, the Pacific Northwest, the vast majority of my friends and neighbors are of Asian descent. First generation or second generation transplants, long enough to enjoy a cheeseburger, but not so long that the cuisines of their respective cultures are abandoned. So I'm pretty familiar with the yard long bean, but for those of you who aren't, here's the run down.
The Chinese long bean ( Vigna unguiculata ) makes all of their names honorbecause it grows with long bean plants that have pods up to 3 feet in length. The leaves are light green, along with three heart-shaped smaller leaflets. Both flowers and pods are usually formed in connected pairs. The flowers are similar to those of the normal green bean, with the color varying from white to pink to lavender.
The Chinese long beans are more like peas than beans, but taste similar to the latter. Some people think they taste a bit like asparagus, hence the alternate name.
Long bean plant care
Start Chinese long beans from seeds and plant them in rows or grids like a regular green bean, about ½ inch deep and a foot or so apart. Seeds will germinate between 10-15 days.
Long beans prefer warm summers for maximum production. In an area like the Pacific Northwest, a raised bed should be selected for growing in the sunniest area of the garden. For extra long bean plant care, make sure to only transplant once the soil has warmed up and cover the bed with clear plastic row cover for the first few weeks.
Since they like warm weather, don't be surprised if it takes a while for them to actually start growing and / or planting flowers; It can take two to three months for the plants to bloom. Just like other types of climbing beans, Chinese long beans need support, so plant them along a fence or give them a trellis or post to climb up.
Chinese yard long beans ripen quickly and you may need to harvest the beans daily. When picking long beans in the garden, there is a fine line between the perfect emerald, crispy beans and those that go soft and pale. Pick the beans when they are about ¼ inch wide or as thick as a pencil. Although, as mentioned, the beans can reach lengths of 3 feet, the optimal picking length is between 12-18 inches long.
Packed with Vitamin A, the sheer novelty will leave your friends and family begging for more. They can also be kept in the refrigerator for five days, in a Ziploc bag, and then in the vegetable drawer with high humidity. Use them like any green bean. They are awesome in stir fries and are bean used for the Chinese green bean dish found on many Chinese restaurant menus.
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