String beans, also known as green beans, should not cook until they turn into a mushy green mass. Such inedible results will frighten eaters from ever consuming string beans again. The simplest way to prepare string beans requires a short cooking, rending the vegetables slightly tender with a toothsome crunch. Use this cooking method for either fresh or frozen string beans. After they have cooked, use them in your favorite green or string bean recipe or as an elegant, yet simple side.
Use the paring knife to cut the ends off of the string beans. Cut the beans in half or 1-inch slices, if desired.
Bring the salt and water to a boil in the saucepan over high heat.
With a vegetable steamer: place the steamer above the boiling water so that the water does not enter the steamer. Fill the steamer with the prepared string beans. Cover the pot with a lid and steam the string beans, covered for 4 to 10 minutes or until brightly colored and crisp-tender.
Without a vegetable steamer: place the string beans into the boiling water and boil, uncovered until bright in color and tender with a slight crunch. Watch the beans as the time varies between 4 and 10 minutes based on the size of the beans.
Remove a single string bean to taste for the appropriate crisp-tender texture to determine when to stop cooking.
Pour the cooked string beans into a colander to drain over the sink. Do not rinse the string beans. Return them to the pot and place the pot on top of the burner used for cooking.
Skip this step to use the plain string beans in a recipe. Turn off the heat if using an electric stove and melt the butter with residual heat, or keep a low flame on for a gas stove. Stir the butter and salt and pepper into the green beans until the butter completely melts.
Remove the pan from heat and serve immediately with additional salt and pepper, as desired.