How to Cook Fresh Shell Beans
Around this time every year, long, ribbed pods pop up in our Marketplace as the first shell beans of summer come into season. Nestled in these pods are the beans you probably have in your pantry right now, but before they were dried. The pink-speckled, almost neon appearance of the cranberry bean sold me, and after a few rounds with them in the kitchen, I can confidently say they are tastier and easier to cook than their dried counterpart and deserve a spot in your summer rotation.
For one, you don't have to do any pre-planning before you cook them since they don't need to soak overnight. Plus, their max cooking time is about 40 minutes (mine finished in about 20), while dried beans can take up to 2 hours. They also hold their shape better when cooking (no more mushy beans!) and keep their vibrant colors and patterns even after cooking.
How to Cook Fresh Beans
- Remove the beans from their shells: slice off each end of the pod, and pull the pod apart at the seam, or use the tip of a knife to break the seam.
- Give the beans a rinse, and add to a large pot. Cover with at least two inches of water and add aromatics: crushed shallots or garlic, bay leaf or oregano, and dried chili. Don't add salt quite yet!
- Bring to a boil over the stove, then reduce the heat and simmer until tender. Check occasionally by taking out a few beans and trying them – they should be smooth and creamy without any resistance when you bite. This can take anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on size and age of the beans.
- When tender, remove from heat and add salt to taste. Let the beans cool in their liquid, then drain (you can reserve the liquid as a broth). Add to pastas or salads, serve on their own with a little olive oil, or freeze for use all summer long!