ATK Kids

For Extra-Delicious Green Beans, Salt the Heck Out of Them

Cooking green beans in super salty water seasons them throughout and prevents them from turning a drab green color. We’ll show you how.

Published Oct. 5, 2021.

Green beans don’t exactly have the best reputation among kids. Can you blame them? The beans are often drab green, overshadowed by vegetables that, well, look more appealing. But with a little science know-how, the underdog veg can reach its full green-beany potential—and before you know it, your kids will be fighting over the last green beans as if they’re french fries.

The secret? A lot of salt. And not “a lot” as in a tablespoon. We’re talking a whopping ¼ cup of salt. How does it work? Cooking green beans in supersalty water seasons them all the way through due to a process called diffusion. Believe it or not, they come out perfectly seasoned. And because green beans cook faster in salty water, they hold on to their bright-green color. On the other hand, green beans cooked in unsalted water take longer to cook and come out bland and dull.

Here’s how you can see the science in action:

  1. Add ¼ cup of table salt and 1 pound of trimmed green beans to 2 quarts of boiling water. Return the water to a boil, and cook for 6 minutes.
  2. Drain the green beans, add them to an ice bath, and let them cool for about 1 minute. Drain the beans and pat them dry with a dish towel.
  3. Serve them how you like, or toss them in a dressing of 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and ⅛ teaspoon of table salt.

We came up with an entire book that looks at cooking from a science perspective. We've designed activities and experiments that aren't just fun for kids to do, but you end up with delicious food in the end—thanks to our cracker jack recipe developers at America's Test Kitchen Kids. We're so excited about this new cookbook — The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists — and would love for you to check it out. For a limited time, the book is 40% off at our store.

The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists

The latest book in the New York Times best-selling cookbook series for young chefs answers all the big food questions that kids have through fun and accessible experiments and doable, delicious recipes.  

Hey! Did you know ATK Kids has its very own YouTube channel? Subscribe now and watch great, funny, silly, and delicious cooking videos for the whole family.

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