The China Long bean should be picked young while it is at its most crisp, sweet and tender. Young beans develop within sixty days of cultivation, and the long pods grow in pairs from the stem. Known for their extraordinary length beans can grow up to thirty inches in length but for best flavor and texture should be harvested when between twelve and eighteen inches. The bean pods have a spindly, cylindrical form with a smooth, grooved, firm texture and green-colored shell. The bean pod's flesh contains succulent, pale, lime green peas (the plant's seeds) with eyes similar in shape to black eyed peas. If beans are allowed to fully mature, they can be shelled and the seeds used as other shelled beans and peas. The flavor of China Long beans is grassy and slightly sweet with a more intense bean flavor than traditional green beans. Of all the China Long bean varieties the green is known to be the sweetest and most tender.
China Long beans are available year-round with a peak season in the summer and fall months.
China Long beans, are a member of the Fabaceae family and botanically known as Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis. They are botanically a type of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata) though they resemble pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). A true legume the China Long bean has many other given names, depending on region and culture. It is also referred to as Asparagus bean, Snake bean, Yardlong bean and Long-Podded cowpea. There are also multiple varieties of China Long bean including purple, red, green and yellow as well as multicolored green, pink and purple strains.
China Long beans are an incredible vegetarian source for nutrition. They are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, protein, fiber, folate, magnesium, thiamin, potassium, and iron.
China Long beans should be very fresh when purchased. When young and tender they can be used raw and are a welcome addition to green and grain salads. Unlike conventional green beans China Long beans tend to get waterlogged when boiled or steamed so when preparing in this method be sure to only do so for a short duration. Their texture will be most favorable when they are stir-fried, sautéd, grilled, dry-fried, or deep-fried. China Long beans can also be preserved and pickled. Pair with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, bitter or spicy Asian greens, Sichuan peppercorns, black bean sauce, hot peppers, oyster sauce, curry spice, beef, pork and chicken. China Long beans will keep, dry and refrigerated. For best flavor and texture use within three to four days before beans become wilted and floppy.