Phaseolus vulgaris, the COMMON BEAN, is popular both dry and as a green (and sometimes yellow) bean. Beans are legumes – grown agriculturally for food, for livestock forage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Well-known legumes also include alfalfa, peas, soybeans, and peanuts. Other members of the common bean include the lima beans (Phaselus limenosus), and the extremely long beans from the Orient (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis).
The COMMON BEAN is a highly variable species with Bush varieties that form erect bushes 8 to 24 inches tall, and with Pole (or Running) varieties forming vines 6 to 10 feet long. All varieties bear alternate green or purple leaves. The white, pink, or purple flowers give way to pods 3 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide. Pods may be green, yellow, black or purple in color, each containing 4 to 6 beans. Beans in the pods are typically smooth, plump, kidney-shaped and range widely in color.
• Green beans
There are TWO commonly known types of green beans:
A.String (or Runner) bean with a tough fibrous "string" running along its length.
B.Stringless (or French) bean without the long fibrous string, and more tender.
Either can usually be prepared as snap beans; however, the stringless beans, being more tender, are often prepared whole instead of “snapped”. Any/all Green beans are often steamed, boiled, stir-fried, or baked in casseroles. They provide less starch and protein than Dry beans, but more vitamin A and vitamin C. Some Green beans can be used as shell beans.
• Dry beans
Dry Beans are high in starch, protein and dietary fiber, and are an excellent source of iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folic acid. They will keep for long periods if stored in a cool, dry place, but as time passes, their nutritive value and flavor degrade. Dried beans are almost always cooked by boiling, often after being soaked for several hours. There are many Green beans that can be used as fresh or dried.
• Shelling beans
Shell, shelled, or shelling beans are beans removed from their pods before being cooked or dried. Fresh shell beans are nutritionally similar to dry beans, but are prepared more like a green bean, often being steamed, fried, or used in soups. Some Green beans can be used as Shell beans, but the term also refers to other species of beans whose pods are not typically eaten, such as lima beans, soybeans, peas, and fava beans.