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Beans French beans

Phaseolus vulgaris

Photo courtesy of Horticulture New Zealand


Fresh French beans are one of the great treats of summer. Sweet and tender, few meals in the warmer months don’t benefit from the addition of a pile of these cylinders of flavour on the side.

Members of the legume family, they grow on vines that can be trained to grow up trellises or canes, and are one of many similar varieties of bean. French beans are particularly long and thin, and have a thin outer skin, giving them a pleasant texture and a lot of versatility in the kitchen.

French beans are a good source of protein, fibre and folate.



The French bean actually originated in South America, but their popularity in French cooking has given them their name.

Due to being from the same family, Fabaceae, all types of beans share much of their history. One of the earliest plants known in cultivation, it is believed that they have been part of humans’ diet since at least 6,000BC.


As with many fresh greens, French beans don’t require much more than cooking in salted water until tender and a blob of butter. If you feel like being more experimental, however, there are plenty of options. Add them to warm salads or stir fries, cook them in rich tomato sauce, or eat them raw with hummus.


French beans and runner beans are often classified as being alternate names for the same bean, known in the United States as the green bean, but this is incorrect.

Beans: Runner beans »« Beans: Broad beans


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