Lacto-fermented green beans is just a fancy term for green beans that taste pickled, yet have all the benefits of lactic acid bacteria (lacto) fermentation.
Pickled green beans are soured from the addition of vinegar or another acid. Lacto-fermented green beans, on the other hand, get their sour, pickled flavour from lactic acid bacteria that produce lactic acid. These bacteria also produce smaller amounts of acetic acid (vinegar) as well as very small amounts of other acids. Adding additional acids is not needed for safety.
Compared to green beans pickled with vinegar, lacto-fermented green beans contain good microbes, are easier to digest, have additional vitamins not found in raw green beans, and have disease-fighting plant compounds (phytochemicals).
All these changes are thanks to enzymes in lactic acid bacteria. In a sense, fermentation adds value to green beans way beyond the delicious tangy, pickle flavour from bacteria that produce lactic acid.
So why pickle when you can lacto-ferment green beans.
Types of green beans
As a novice gardener, I’ve come to learn that not all green beans are the same (dah!).
At a fermentation event where I served fermented green beans, a man ask me why my beans were bumpy. Unaware of other green bean varieties, I attributed the bumpiness to over-mature rounded bean seeds inside. Had I picked and fermented the beans when they were younger, I assumed the seeds inside would be smaller and the beans, less bumpy.
Moreover, I was raised with my mom growing these bumpy, nodular-type green beans that I didn’t even know thin, tender, slender beans were an option. A trip to the farmer’s market with an inquisitive eye for thin green beans and market vendors who were open to questions from beginner gardeners taught me otherwise.
I learned that some bean varieties are specifically bred to be tender, slender, stringless, and full of flavour. Lengths vary from 4-7 inches.
Green beans either grow in a bush formation or on a vine, which requires a pole or trellis to support bean growth. Bush beans need no support
This summer I grew Tendergreen Improved, which had a straight pod and was stringless, organic, and relatively tender. Next year I’ll try a variety that has smaller seeds to reduce visibility of seed bumps yet are still thin and stringless.
Below are some varieties that fit those characteristics and are supposedly good for canning, freezing, and fermenting. If you have experience fermenting or pickling these varieties drop a comment in the comment box at the bottom of this page.
- Jade beans: bush bean; 6-7″ long pods; straight; dark green (high chlorophyll); sweet flavour and tender texture.
- Provider: bush bean; 5.5″ long pods; germinates in cooler soils; straight; some seed bump visibility
- Blue Lake Pole: pole bean; 5.5-6.5″ long pods; tender and plump; best for canning, freezing, or fermenting
- Blue Lake Bush: same as Blue Lake Pole except it can support itself without using a pole.
Yellow green beans
“Yellow green beans” – sound confusing? I’m referring to beans that look like green beans but are yellow. These are commonly called yellow wax beans.
Basically, yellow beans are green beans without chlorophyll pigment. In addition, yellow beans are lower in beta carotene, a plant pigment with antioxidant benefits, than green beans.
Colour aside, green and yellow beans are almost indistinguishable in taste. Some popular yellow bean varieties are:
- Gold Rush Wax: bush bean, 5-6″ long pod; straight, tender, and stringless
- Rocdor: bush bean, slender, straight, 6-7″ long pods; stringless
When you are trying to eat fruits or vegetables from each colour of the rainbow – white/brown, purple/blue, orange, yellow, red, green – every little bit of colour helps, including purple beans.
Consider fermenting some green beans, some yellow, and some purple beans to increase the variety of colours in your diet. Each colour signifies phytochemicals, which support different systems in the body (brain, bone, eyes, circulation) and can prevent against cancer, heart disease, inflammation, high blood pressure and cholesterol.
The purple pigment in purple beans (and any other purple/violet, blue, or red plant) is from anthocyanin. This phytochemical is particularly good for the heart, brain, arteries and memory. Additionally, it helps fight cancer and boosts immunity.
Two purple bean varieties you may want to ferment this year or grow next year are:
- Royal Burgundy: bush bean, 6″ long pod, stringless, turns green when cooked
- Purple Queen: bush bean, 6″ long pod, stringless, slightly curved
How to serve lacto-fermented green beans
Think of ways that you use pickled green beans, and you can easily substitute lacto-fermented green beans. Both pickled and fermented green beans are delicious eaten straight out of the jar, but here are some other ideas:
- as a side dish to a sandwich
- part of a condiment tray, cheese platter, pickle board, or charturceire board
- as a hostess gift
- substitute for canned beans in a 4-bean salad
- in a Bloody Mary or Caesar
- an salad ingredient
How to ferment green beans
Like all other brined vegetables, making lacto-fermented green beans is super easy. This recipe is my cumin dill green beans. The cumin is great in this recipe. If you absolutely hate the taste of cumin or Indian cuisine, then feel free to omit it for dilly green beans.
1.Gather your ingredients: cumin seeds, dill heads (or fresh springs of dill, garlic cloves, horseradish leaf, and fresh green beans (or use a mixture of green, yellow, or purple beans). You’ll need about a pound of beans for a 1-Litre Airlock Fermenter or a 1-quart jar.
2.Wash green beans and trim ends.
3.Make 500mL of a 2% brine by dissolving 10 grams of unrefined sea salt in 500mL of hot water; allow to cool. Depending on how tightly you pack your jar, you may only need 475mL or less. However, it’s better to have extra brine than not enough.
4.Place cumin, dill head, and garlic cloves in the bottom of the cleaned jar (no need to sterilize the jar – this is fermentation, not canning). Pack beans snuggly into the jar. Beans should be just above the shoulder of the jar.
5.Place another small dill head over the top of the beans. Then fold a piece of horseradish, raspberry, or oak leaf (any leaf high in tannins) so that is covers the whole top of the jar. Tuck it into the sides of the jar. Put a.
6. Pour cooled brine to the neck of the jar; place glass weight over top. Insert airlock; leave at room temperature (18-21°C) counter for 7 days.
Feel free to scale up this recipe to use in a 1.5-Litre, 2-Litre or 3-Litre jar. Or scale down to use in a 3/4-Litre Airlock Fermenter.
Lacto-Fermented Green Beans
- 1-Litre Airlock Fermenter or 1-quart jar
- 1 pound organic green beans
- 3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 dill heads or 4 springs of dill
- horseradish leaf
- 10 grams non-iodized sea salt
- 500 mL non-chlorinated water
- Wash beans and trim ends.
- Make 500 mL of 2% brine by dissolving 10 grams salt in hot water. Let cool.
- Put one dill head at the bottom of cleaned jar with cumin seeds and garlic, then pack green beans snugly to the shoulder of the jar with another dill head and horseradish leaf over top.
- Pour brine to neck of jar, totally submerging the beans and leaf; place glass weight on top. Insert filled airlock; place out of direct sunlight for 7 days at (18-21°C).
- Transfer to fridge or cold room for 3 more weeks to enhance flavour and improve digestibility, leaving the airlock inserted. An unopened jar will store for 1 year in cold storage. Alternatively, begin eating after 7 days and swap the airlock for the plug; refridgerate.
If you like these lacto-fermented green beans, you may also like my other brined ferments: