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Haricot vert beans are elongated green beans which are widely cultivated in France. Some consumers call them “French beans” or “French green beans” to differentiate them from other varieties of green beans. When well cultivated, they can be a superior green bean, ideal for a wide range of recipes and side dishes. Some markets sell haricot vert beans, and they can also be grown at home, if you have the space for a garden.
Superficially, haricot vert beans can closely resemble regular green beans. However, they are a bit more slender and long than regular green beans, and they are also stringless. When lightly cooked, haricot verts are tender, crispy, and very tasty, with a hint of sweetness. Many cooks like to briefly blanch them and add them to salads and other dishes, and they can also be fried or roasted to make rich side dishes which are packed with an intense springy flavor.
Like other green beans, haricot vert beans are merely the unripe fruits of the bean plant. They are green because they have not fully matured, and they will later grow into haricot beans, small white beans which are used in a soups, chili, and other bean dishes. The best haricot vert beans will be picked when they are still very young and tender, before the pod has started to turn woody and inedible, and the whole of the bean except for the stem is edible.
When selecting haricot vert beans in the store, look for specimens which are evenly colored, without signs of yellowing or mold. They should also be firm and smooth to the touch, without any slime or soft spots. Keep the beans wrapped in a paper bag for up to four days under refrigeration, and wash them before use. When you do use the beans, trim the tips off and remember to cook them lightly so that they stay crispy.
Beans are quite easy to grow in a home garden, as long as you have space for a bean trellis. Many garden supply stores sell packets of haricot beans for sale, and you can use the plants to produce haricot verts as well as dried haricot beans. Plant the beans in a sunny space with a trellis, wall, or stake to grow on. Water the beans regularly, and keep growth off the ground so that the plants will not mold or rot. When the haricots verts emerge, harvest them and use as quickly as possible for a fresh taste. You can also allow the beans to mature and dry on the plant if you want dried beans for future use.