Wax beans are a type of edible bean known for their bright yellow coloration. Similar in taste to string or green beans, wax beans can be used in a variety of dishes and may be eaten cooked or raw. Also known as butter beans, they are typically harvested in late spring and early summer, and grow in temperate areas.
In terms of nutrition, wax beans provide a considerable amount of vitamins A and C, while containing little fat and few calories. A 4 oz(113.39 g) serving of these yellow beans contains about 20-25 calories. Nutrients may wane if the beans are frozen or canned; as with most vegetables, nutritional content is highest just after harvesting.
When ripe, butter beans have a slightly sweet and rich taste and a crunchy texture with a lot of snap. When choosing beans, look for pods that snap crisply; limp pods are often a sign that the bean is past its peak. Beans should generally be washed before eating, but no other preparation is necessary. They can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Some experts recommend keeping beans in a sealed plastic bag to reduce moisture loss while in the fridge.
Wax beans can be used as a substitute in any recipe where green beans or string beans are used. They make a delicious addition to salads, soups, and pasta dishes. Their pleasant color creates a lovely contrast to regular green beans, so consider using half wax and half green beans in a recipe to add visual appeal.
Although these pretty yellow beans are found in dishes from many cultures, most species are native to North America and have been grown for thousands of years in this area. Native American cultures that specialized in farming grew beans in concert with squash and corn, referring to this nutritious trio as the “three sisters.” When planted together, these three crops actually stimulate growth and harvest in one another through their individual growing patterns and complementary use of nutrients in the soil.
Growing wax beans is relatively easy even for a novice gardener. The beans can either be allowed to develop into bushes or trained to climb up poles or trellises. Using poles can be a great way to maximize space in a small garden, as the beans will grow vertically. Beans require considerable sunlight and well drained soil that is watered lightly every few days. Planting usually begins in mid-spring, with harvest about two months after planting.