This year I have a 16-foot-long section trellised five-foot-high of these wonderful, tasty, and healthy summer treats. The photo below is me and my grandson Liam (my gardening buddy) picking beans for the dinner table.
Now how about some facts about the Chinese Yard Long Green Bean…
- Chewy and flavorful yard long beans, also known as Chinese snake beans, or Asparagus beans, are closely related to black-eyed peas.
- The immature, tender, edible pods are one of the most popular pod-vegetables used in the Philippines and other East Asian cuisines.
- The beans are also grown in small scale in the home gardens of the Southern United States, West-Indies, and the Mediterranean regions.
- The yard-long pods are actually legumes belonging to the Fabaceae family.
- The beans were thought to have originated in southern Chinese Yunnan province.
- The Scientific name is: Vigna unguiculata, sub. sesquipedalis.
- The beans also bare local generally recognized names such as bora (West Indies), dau gok (China), pole sitao (Philippines), etc.
- The yard-long bean is a fast growing annual plant; it requires a trellis to support its amazing growth. However, dwarf and tall climbing varieties exist.
- Depending upon the cultivar type, it bears blue to violet flowers after about 6-10 weeks of seedling.
- Numerous pencil thin, tender, light-green, flexible-textured pods appear after about another two to four weeks following flowering. These fleshy, pendulous pods are usually harvested while they are immature and eaten as green vegetables.
- The pods vary in length that ranges from a foot to two-foot long.
- As in other bean varieties, harvesting may not be a time-guided event. The pods are usually harvested early for young, super tender, immature beans, or they may be left on the vine to dry-out in order to obtain dried beans or seeds for the following season’s planting.
- Yard-long of beans are one of the ancient cultivated crops. Young, immature pods are one of very low calorie vegetables; 100 g of beans contain just 47 calories.
- The pods contain large quantities of soluble and insoluble fibers. Since the entire green pod is eaten as in french-beans, sufficient amounts of dietary fiber are obtained in the diet. Dietary-fiber helps to protect the mucousa colon by decreasing its exposure time to toxic substances as well as by binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon. Fiber rich food also found to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels by decreasing re-absorption of cholesterol binding bile acids in the colon.
- Fresh yard-long of beans are one of the finest sources of folates. 100 g of beans provide 62 µg or 15% of daily requirement of folates. Folate along with vitamin B-12 is one of the essential components of DNA synthesis and cell division. Adequate folate in the diet around conception and during pregnancy may help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn baby.
- Fresh beans contain a good amount of vitamin C. 100 g of yard-long beans provides 18.8 mg or 31% of recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble antioxidant and when adequately provided in the diet, it helps build immunity against infections, helps maintain blood vessel elasticity, and offers some protection from cancers.
- Furthermore, the long beans are excellent sources of vitamin A. At 865 IU per 100 g, the beans have more of this vitamin than that of the other same family legumes such as lima beans, fava, green beans, etc. Vitamin A is one of the essential vitamins for the entire body provided through our diet. Vitamin A maintains mucus membrane integrity, enhances skin complexion, and improves night vision.
- In addition, yard long beans provide average amounts of minerals such as iron, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
The next time you're at the Asian market, give these beans a try. Because they're so lengthy, there's very little picking or fussing to do per strand of bean: washed and cut in a minute, they're ready to be cooked. Finally, when you're shopping for these beans at the market, be aware that the long strands will be limp and slightly wrinkled even when they're fresh.