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Though available year-round, these summer favorites are most tender and flavorful during peak season. String beans, as they're also known, are best harvested before the inner beans are fully formed, so you can serve them raw in salads or as part of a veggie platter. When it comes to cooking, quickly blanching the beans (followed by a quick dunk in ice water to keep the color vibrant) is your best bet.
Peak Season: May to September
How to select: Look for slender, bright green beans that snap easily when bent. Avoid if the inner beans appear very large in their pods (a sign of too-late harvesting).
Price range: $2 to $4 per pound
Keep it fresh: Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Wash just before using.
Pairs well with: Corn, tomatoes, garlic, orange zest, almonds, chiles, soy sauce, sesame seeds, radishes
Creative uses: Stir-fry with soy sauce, honey and sesame oil. Slice diagonally and add to salads with radishes, orange segments and avocado.
Nutrition highlights: Green beans are packed with phytonutrients, especially from the flavonoid and carotenoid families, providing antioxidant protection and cardiovascular benefits.