Welcome to our Green Beans Baby Food Recipes section – we’ll show you the tastiest ways to serve green beans to your little one!
Green beans (also known as snap beans, string beans, French beans or runner beans in different parts of the world) are related to other beans like kidney beans and pinto beans.
But the big difference is that the seed AND the pod can be eaten, because they are picked at the green, immature stage, whilst the pod is still tender and the bean inside is only just beginning to grow.
These days, green beans are minus the ‘string’ that used to run down their length and had to be removed prior to cooking – so the name ‘string beans’ is rather outdated now and does the modern day crunchy bean a bit of a disservice!
Fresh green beans cannot be beaten in terms of flavour, vibrancy of colour and crispy texture – but many brands of frozen green bean come a close second. You can also use salt-free, canned green beans if they are not available either fresh or frozen in your corner of the world.
Green beans are absolutely packed with important nutrients for your baby…
Whew! And not only do these nutrients play a useful role in your baby’s healthy development, they also help prevent conditions like asthma and – in later life – help protect the heart.
Fresh green beans should have a bright colour and should ‘snap’ when broken (so it’s best to buy them loose rather than pre-packed in order to put their ‘snappiness’ to the test!).
Avoid wrinkled green beans or those with brown spots, as they will probably not be as fresh as you’d like! You should also avoid green beans where the outline of the beans themselves is visible through the pods – these will likely be tough rather than tender.
It is possible to buy green beans with the ends pre-cut (to save you having to do it!). ONLY buy pre-cut beans if the cut ends look fresh, green and damp. If they are dry, the beans were probably cut a few days previously.
Simply wrap fresh green beans in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator crisper for around 5 days.
If you have more fresh green beans than you can use, freeze the excess – it’s easy to do! But first you need to blanch the beans.
Prepare a bowl containing cold water and ice cubes.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, tip in your beans and cook for 3 minutes.
Drain the beans, then immediately plunge them into the iced water – this will instantly halt the cooking process.
Your beans are now ready for the freezer!
Alternatively, make a green bean puree (below) and freeze the puree instead!
Green beans may be introduced to your baby from 6 months of age (with your doctor’s consent). However, you may wish to wait until later in your baby’s first year is your little one is prone to gas – beans, including green beans, are notorious for causing gas in babies (and in adults, too!).
Remember to observe the four day rule when introducing green beans to your baby – and if any digestive problems DO result, or if they trigger an allergic reaction, then you’ll know for sure that the beans are to blame.
Green beans and other legumes may not be suitable for babies with G6PD Deficiency – please see this page for more information.
After washing your beans in cold, fresh water, remove the stem end. It’s not usually necessary to remove the other, curved end. You can then cut them into 2 inch pieces for cooking – or just leave them whole.
Green beans can be boiled in a little water – or steamed – for around 4-5 minutes until nice and tender.
TO MAKE A SIMPLE GREEN BEAN PUREE FOR YOUR BABY…
… transfer the cooked beans to a food processor and add a little water (preferably the water they were cooked in, if boiled) or milk and blend until as smooth as possible.
Green beans can be difficult to get completely smooth, however, adding water to the mixture certainly helps, but another option is to push the beans through a very fine mesh strainer AFTER processing in the blender, which removes those stubborn little bits!
For a creamier puree, try cooking a diced potato with the beans and pureeing them together.
You may have heard that you can preserve the bright colour of green beans by adding baking soda/bicarbonate of soda to the water when boiling them.
DON’T DO IT – it destroys the vitamin C content of the beans!
Here are some more suggestions that will have your baby clamouring for second helpings
Green beans make a wonderfully healthy finger food for babies. Simply blanch them (using the method described earlier in this article) and you have a tender, easy-to-manage snack that your baby can enjoy at home – or which you can pop into a container to take out on your travels.
Try serving them with a dip for older babies – little ones love to dip their food and green beans are the perfect size and shape for the job. A roasted red pepper dip tastes great with green beans (you can find the instructions for making it on our Bell Pepper page).