Fresh beans come in a variety of colors, from yellow to purple to even striped! They are available in three stages of maturity. Immature or young beans are eaten whole with their pods. Green beans and yellow wax beans are examples. Mature beans are still fresh but need to be shelled and the beans cooked (ex. cranberry or fava beans). The third stage is when both beans and pods are dried out and the beans are removed and stored for later use (dried beans used in soups, etc.)
Green Beans (young): Two types of green beans are string and snap. String beans have a fibrous string along the length of the bean that should be removed before eating. Snap beans are usually stringless.
Yellow or Purple Wax Beans (young): A snap bean that is a golden yellow or purple-colored version of the green bean. It is harvested and eaten during the early stage of maturity when it is tender, sweet and crisp.
Longbeans (young): A long Chinese bean that can measure from one to three feet in length. They have a mild taste similar to string beans and are light green or dark green in color. The entire bean is edible, both pod and bean.
Cranberry Beans (shelled): The pod and beans are marked with red streaks. The pods are not edible but the beans make a good side dish.
Fava Beans (shelled): A young green snap or vine bean measuring an inch or more in length with very large beans. The bean is shelled from the pod before eating. There is also a wax layer around each bean that is usually removed.
Edamame Beans (shelled): This edible soybean is harvested while still green and has a mild sweet flavor. The bean is removed from the pod before it is eaten. The pod is not edible.