There are two types of green beans: bush beans, meaning that the plant itself is similar to a bush, and pole beans, which grow on a plant so tall it requires a pole for support. When preparing frozen or canned beans, the packaging instructions will tell you how to properly cook them. If you have fresh green bush beans, though, there are three common ways to cook them -- either by steaming, boiling or microwaving.
Prepare your green beans by rinsing them in cold water to remove any dirt that may be on them.
Place clean green beans on a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, cut them into smaller pieces -- around 1 or 2 inches apiece, depending on how long you want them. You may also decide to leave them whole, which is fine.
Fill a steamer basket with the amount of green beans you want to steam. The basket must be small enough to fit into a saucepan with a lid while leaving at least 1 inch of space between the bottom of the basket and the bottom of the pan.
Add water to the saucepan. The amount only needs to be 1 inch high in the pan, though you can add more as long as the water isn't high enough to touch the green beans in the steamer.
Put the steam basket containing the green beans into the saucepan and cover it with a lid.
Set the pan on a stove burner and turn the heat to high.
Boil the water for three to five minutes and then remove it from heat. Your green beans should be done. To test, sample a green bean; if it’s hard, you'll need to steam them for a few more minutes. If it’s soft, it’s done.
Clean your green beans by rinsing them off with cool water in the sink. Cut them to your desired length using a sharp produce knife, or leave them long and whole.
Put green beans into a microwave-safe bowl. Choose a bowl with a lid; if you don’t have one, you may use microwave-safe plastic wrap to cover it.
Add 2 tbsp. of water, or more if you’re cooking a large amount in the bowl.
Cover with either the lid or plastic wrap, leaving one corner of the lid or wrap unsealed. This allows hot air and steam to escape and prevents the lid from popping off or plastic wrap from shrinking.
Cook the beans on high heat for three to four minutes and sample one green bean to determine whether it's soft enough for your liking. If not, return for an additional minute or two.
Remove the bowl from the microwave and serve.
Fill a large saucepan halfway with water. The amount varies depending on how many green beans you’re cooking, but the key is to use enough water to completely cover the beans.
Place the pan on the stove burner and set the heat to medium-high to get the water heating up to a boil.
Clean your green beans while the water is heating by rinsing them in cool water. Cut them if you'd like.
Add the green beans to the water once it starts to boil and cook them between four and five minutes or more if you prefer them extra soft.
Take pot off the stove, place green beans into a serving bowl and serve immediately.
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Jeff Herman began his journalism career in 2000. An experienced, award-winning sportswriter, his work has appeared in "The Washington Post," "ESPN the Magazine" and the "Boston Herald," among other publications. Herman has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from West Virginia University.