Long Beans

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Description/Taste

The China Long bean should be picked young while it is at its most crisp, sweet and tender. Young beans develop within sixty days of cultivation, and the long pods grow in pairs from the stem. Known for their extraordinary length beans can grow up to thirty inches in length but for best flavor and texture should be harvested when between twelve and eighteen inches. The bean pods have a spindly, cylindrical form with a smooth, grooved, firm texture and green-colored shell. The bean pod’s flesh contains succulent, pale, lime green peas (the plant’s seeds) with eyes similar in shape to black eyed peas. If beans are allowed to fully mature, they can be shelled and the seeds used as other shelled beans and peas. The flavor of China Long beans is grassy and slightly sweet with a more intense bean flavor than traditional green beans. Of all the China Long bean varieties the green is known to be the sweetest and most tender.

Seasons/Availability

China Long beans are available year-round with a peak season in the summer and fall months.

Current Facts

China Long beans, are a member of the Fabaceae family and botanically known as Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. They are botanically a type of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) though they resemble pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). A true legume the China Long bean has many other given names, depending on region and culture. It is also referred to as Asparagus bean, Snake bean, Yardlong bean and Long-Podded cowpea. There are also multiple varieties of China Long bean including purple, red, green and yellow as well as multicolored green, pink and purple strains.

Nutritional Value

China Long beans are an incredible vegetarian source for nutrition. They are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, thiamin, potassium, and iron.

Applications

China Long beans should be very fresh when purchased. When young and tender they can be used raw and are a welcome addition to green and grain salads. Unlike conventional green beans China Long beans tend to get waterlogged when boiled or steamed so when preparing in this method be sure to only do so for a short duration. Their texture will be most favorable when they are stir-fried, sautéd, grilled, dry-fried, or deep-fried. China Long beans can also be preserved and pickled. Pair with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, bitter or spicy Asian greens, Sichuan peppercorns, black bean sauce, hot peppers, oyster sauce, curry spice, beef, pork and chicken. China Long beans will keep, dry and refrigerated. For best flavor and texture use within three to four days before beans become wilted and floppy.

Ethnic/Cultural Info

In Chinese cuisine the China Long bean is traditionally pickled with Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, ginger and star anise. The pickled beans can be eaten as is or prepared in a variety of regional dishes such as uan doujiao chao roumo or sour bean pods with ground pork.

Geography/History

The China Long bean is native to southern Asia and thrives in tropical and sub-tropical regions throughout the world. Its Asian origins have maintained its culinary relevance in countries such as Thailand and China. It has spread in popularity in equatorial regions of Africa and South America where it has become a boon of food security and sustainable rural growth. The China Long bean grows on a climbing vine and will benefit from a trellis or support. Like most beans China Long thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant. Additionally they enrich the soil they are planted in as they are nitrogen fixers.

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