Fresh green beans are a household staple in many kitchens. However, they don’t keep much longer than a week after picking them, even if they’re stored in the refrigerator.
After their best-by date (and sometimes even before that), they begin to get a layer of white slime over them. This is caused by spoilage bacteria and molds that begin to decompose the vegetable matter.
Are Slimy Beans Safe to Eat?
If kept in the fridge at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, green beans will only be susceptible to spoilage bacteria and not pathogenic bacteria like E. Coli and Bacillus Cereus.
(Pathogens – the ones that make you sick– are deactivated under such low temperatures.)
This means that if the slime is just on the outside of the beans and hasn’t started rotting them, you may still be able to salvage them. Look for and throw away any with brown or black spots, as well as any that have rotted.
Wash the rest well under cold running water to wash away any traces of slime. Prepare them as usual and boil them for at least ten minutes.
While it is not safe to eat such beans raw, such as in a salad, they should be safe once boiled in this manner.
White Slime On Green Beans
Of course, it is always better to prevent such problems from happening in the first place. We will detail a few ways to preserve your beans for the longest possible time.
- Buy Them Fresh
It is best to purchase your green beans from farmer’s markets or fresh produce stores where you have the best chance of getting them freshly picked.
Look for beans with a uniform green color, no marks or spots, and a crispy snap when you break them in half.
Buy them by weight, if possible, from open containers rather than buying those that have been pre-packaged in plastic. If buying green beans from the supermarket, always check the sell-by date.
Sometimes the ones at the back of the shelf are freshest because the store owners put the oldest ones towards the front in an attempt to sell them first.
- Store Them Correctly
Keep the beans in the produce drawer at the bottom of the fridge. Pack them into sealed plastic containers or Ziploc bags with a piece of paper towel inside to absorb extra moisture.
Do not wash them before storing but rather wash them just before use. Extra moisture=slime. Stored like this, fresh green beans should keep for up to seven days.
- Freeze Them
If you think you will need to store the beans for longer than a week, your best bet is to freeze them. Top and tail the beans and cut them to size.
Blanch them in boiling water then drain well. (This is an important step in the freezing process as it stops all enzymatic activity.) Pack into containers and freeze once they’re completely cool.
The beans will still need to be cooked once you are ready to eat them. You can store them this way with no deterioration in quality for up to three months.
- Can Them
This method means that your beans will be cooked then preserved. There are many online instruction videos for pressure canning (the safest method of canning.)
We hope this answers your questions about white slime on your green beans. If you can afford to, throw them out.
If not, sort through them, keep those that just have surface slime, and wash them well. Then make sure that you boil them for ten minutes before consumption. Stay safe!