Runner beans

Runner Beans are also known as stick beans, string beans or the ‘scarlet runner’ (as some varieties have pretty scarlet flowers).  They are long, flat green beans that have a coarse textured skin with a fresh, sweet flavour.

Runner Beans are synonymous with British summer-time and many a gardener has roped in a spare pair of hands to help build the cane ‘wig-wam’ these climbing beans need to grow.

A truly great summer vegetable bursting with flavour, runner beans can be kept in the fridge for up 3 days after purchase and are served cooked, usually as an accompanying vegetable but they can be combined with other tasty ingredients to make simple, modern dishes.

When choosing runner beans avoid pale looking beans as they tend to be old and stringy, pick bright green beans for quality and freshness. You can buy runner beans ready prepared, but you also buy them and obviously grow them as is.  Ideally you need to trim away the outer seams – the string – so that you’re left with soft, tender beans to enjoy when cooked.  There are a number of ways to prepare them, here’s our definitive guide…

1. Begin by washing the beans in cold water.

2. Then top and tail each bean and run a sharp knife down each side to remove the string.  You can also use a vegetable peeler to do this.

3. Very young or small beans can be cooked whole but the majority of runners are large so take your knife and cut diagonally across each bean so that you end up with diamond shaped pieces. 

4. If you prefer to have your beans sliced into ribbons you can use a handy bean slicer which can be purchased from most hardware and kitchen stores.  These are simple to use and involve pushing the washed bean through a cutter, thereby slicing the beans for you.

5. Once sliced cook the beans by boiling them for 5-10 minutes or until just tender but still crisp, or by steaming them for 8-10 minutes following the same rules.

Alternatively have a look at our recipe section for new and exciting ideas.