When it comes to french beans (everyone's favourite) they like fast cooking - here's a few simple rules:
- Bring the water to the boil first then drop your beans in. If you put the beans in cold water and bring the pan to the boil they will cook far too long, and all the colour leaches out into the water so the beans turn grey/ brown.
- Your boiling water should taste, as John Williams might say (though that depends at times on your meaning of the word 'say') like the sea - i.e. plenty of salt. I still routinely taste the water to check each time. If there isn't enough salt you can see the colour leaching out.
- Once you add the beans the pan should be brought back to boil rapidly. The slower it is the more colour you lose. A smaller pan of water obviously comes back to the boil quicker, so if you are cooking them for a larger quantity of people it is better to cook them in batches. Put the lid on the pan - easy to forget.
- Once they have come back to the boil they only take 2 - 3 minutes till they are al dente.
- Another point to consider when buying your french beans in the first place is how old they look. They should look fresh, like you have just cut them from your bean plant. Sometimes they look can look old, tired, and sometimes the edges can be turning bad. If they look like this they have been kept for too long and when you cook them the colour fades away and they are not as appetising.
- How many french beans for one portion? I work on 50g raw french beans per person. I have found this works perfectly.