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A staple in our house is green beans. It's not uncommon that I'll buy 5-10 lbs and blanch or cook them all in one session, to reheat or eat cold in lunches all week. I also buy fresh beans in bulk when in season, and trim/blanch before freezing.

For a pound, trimming the ends off the beans is no big deal, but when we're talking 5 or more pounds, I find the trimming process extremely tedious and more importantly, time consuming.

Similar to this question, I'm looking for some kind of trick or tool that may help with this preparation.

Right now, here is how I do it:

  1. Hold chefs knife in right hand, blade flat on surface of cutting board
  2. Grab 5-10 beans and press them against the blade of the knife so they line up flush
  3. Chop ends
  4. Turn beans, press against blade again to line up other side
  5. Chop again

This method isn't terrible, but it can be tedious trying to get the ends to line up for chopping. If I grab 10 beans, I feel like I'm spending too much time lining things up because they're different sizes and curvatures. If I grab 5 beans, I feel like I'm not doing as much as I can at once.

I've also tried pinching the ends off by hand, using my thumbnail as a sort of mini knife. However, going one at a time like this feels very inefficient as well.

So...Is there a more effective way to trim the ends green beans than what I'm currently doing, and are there any tips or tools that will make my job more efficient?

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That's exactly how I do it. And I agree, finding the right number of beans is part of the zen mastery. (Another option is to use steel green beans and then you can line them up magnetically.) –  Michael at Herbivoracious Aug 19 '10 at 4:22

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I have found that scissors is the answer to this particular problem. Simply grab a few bean, snip the ends and then turn the hand over and snip again. This doesn't wield beans that are uniform in length though, so if you need that, you will still have to do some cutting. I would say that you could blow through a batch of five pounds in a few minutes once you get the rhythm.

P.S. I say scissors but what I really use is tin snips a la Alton Brown.

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oh and do it over the trashcan or garbage disposal or you will be pulling ends out for days. –  sarge_smith Aug 19 '10 at 17:58
    
My german shepherd actually LOVES green bean ends, so I tend to trim over a bowl and make her work for them :) Scissors sound great, I have a pair of kitchen shears I use for various things and can't believe I never considered them for this application. I'm also a fan of anything that allows me to get a rhythm going, that's my main problem with the knife method, I constantly feel like I'm stopping to line things up. I'll be sure to try this over the weekend when we hit the local market, thanks! –  stephennmcdonald Aug 19 '10 at 19:10
    
Last night I tried this method on about 2 lbs of green beans. I forgot to time myself, so I'm not sure if it was actually faster than the method in my question, but it sure felt faster once I got a rhythm going (which was about 10 beans in). It was definitely a little less frustrating than trying to line them all up perfectly, that's for sure. Next time I buy a large batch, I'll do half one way and half the other, time myself, and post the results. –  stephennmcdonald Aug 24 '10 at 17:24

This seems like the easiest way. You could also go old school and just tear off the ends with a snap. I don't know if it would be any faster but you could grab a bunch and just run it along a slicer to chop of the ends.

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I use the thumb-nail method. If you're (almost) touching each bean individually anyway, I find it the fastest. I want to inspect my beans anyway, so I do this at the same time.

YMMV, of course.

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