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Flavorless FRESH Farmer's Market Green Beans??!!!

I live in the greater Los Angeles area. My sister and I picked up some beautiful, fresh, unbruised green beans at the local Farmer's Market Night. "Whoopee, I'll have some wonderful tasting green beans, because they're fresh from the Farmer's Market!!" I said to myself.
Well, I gently steamed them, and simply added some salt and butter, because I wanted to taste the green beans. And they hardly had any flavor at all, and actually tasted WORSE than the green beans I usually get at Stater Bros. Market!!!
What gives? Are all farmers different, and can I not depend on fresh produce just because it is fresh? Or something else?
I was really disappointed!!!!

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  1. Produce at Farmer's Markets is not guaranteed to taste better, only more expensive.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      produce at our local farmer's market is not more expensive. But fresh produce varies with weather, soil, farming practices. I ask for a taste where practical.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        It's a fallacy that farmer's market produce is more expensive everywhere. Perhaps this is true in some neighborhoods of LA, but in much of the US, farmer's markets are an excellent place to buy produce in season quite inexpensively. The key is to know what's abundant, in season, and perhaps how the growing conditions have been. Yes, there will be times and places when and where farmers have had to irrigate and their prices can be higher. But, these are REAL food prices, not subsidized.

        To the OP, I suspect your green beans were both irrigated and over fertilized for quick growth. Ask the grower about their methods, and by all means, ask to TASTE the produce before you buy. It helps enormously to get to know the grower, and most will be happy to give you a sample.

      2. Variety, whether it was picked at the right stage of growth and growing conditions all have an effect on the taste of vegetables. I have a big garden and, after over 30 years of experience, I've finally narrowed down which varieties I like to grow. Some are much more delicious than others, no question.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Nyleve

          +1. Variety makes a huge difference. Pole beans (as opposed to bush beans) are likelier to have better flavor. It couldn't hurt to ask the vendor what variety and type of green bean is being offered.

          1. re: farrago

            You're right. I live in an apartment unfortunately and don't grow my own but my folks grew both kinds and I recall the pole beans as being a lot better however both were vastly improved by the addition of a couple tablespoons of bacon grease from the old coffee mug on my Mom's stove and a healthy dose of salt and pepper.

            1. re: LorenM

              My favourites these days are any kind of French filet beans. They're thin and flavourful but have to be picked young. Once they grow up, they lose all their charm.

              1. re: Nyleve

                As a Farmer's Market vendor, I will say the products will vary from one vendor to another. We take things to markets as fresh as possible - but it is not possible to pick a bushel of green beans an hour before the market opens. And green beans do not do well in 95 degree heat - even if irrigated, so quality can be affected beyond the growers control. I eat what I grow and I won't sell something that I don't think is good enough for my family to eat, but not all vendors are like that. Ask questions about the variety and when it was harvested. Once you find a vendor that has quality products, be loyal and tell your friends! And you may have to pay more than at the grocery store - farmers market vendors have to make money - or they aren't going to do it. Grocery stores may sell something at a loss to get you into their store. If you think farmers market prices are too high - then just try raising it yourself.

                1. re: dkharker

                  Thank you for your post. I did not realize that about green beans.
                  And I understand your comments about higher prices. I HAVE tried to grow some of my own stuff - tomatoes, carrots, peppers, radishes - and it is harder than you'd think.
                  I appreciate you vendors, and what you do.

        2. I've stopped buying fresh green beans from any source because they don't have flavor worth preparing. Not only do the beans seem flavorless, but they are often do not appear fresh. I don't know why this is; it may be a local problem. But even beans lately from the field have been flavorless for me. I will sometimes buy frozen green beans, which are at least pretty consistent, even if pretty devoid of bean flavor.

          I remember fondly pole beans, cooked long with potato and some sort of fatty pork. These are not available to me.

          1. I agree with other posters that the growing conditions and variety of bean make or break the taste. In my area I have found quite a few vendors selling the same varieties sold in the grocery store - chosen because they germinate and grow quickly, are disease resistant, have a bit of a shelf life, etc. I can understand supermarkets needing to source this type of produce, but hope to find better choices at a farmer's market.

            Please don't give up, because I've found specific farms at my local FM that do grow better food. One more suggestion (since I haven't had the pleasure of pole beans): look for the flat, Italian type green bean. They are the "beaniest" flavor That I love.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Terrie H.

              Wow, thanks for your replies, everyone! I never thought there was so much to be said about green beans (that's how much I know)!
              I will not give up on looking (and TASTING) for better-tasting Farmer's Market green beans.

            2. Not all vendors actually sell especially fresh, local production, and green beans (as noted above by some) do not suffer heat gladly. I haven't thought too much about varietal variations, but that makes sense.

              Sometimes, by the way, when a produce item looks very unbruised and beautiful, I have second thoughts about how they got that way--varieties made to look good, pesticides, etc.

              My basic test for green beans is stiffness: if you grab a bean by the end and wag it, it shouldn't be, shall we say, at all flaccid.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bada Bing

                Yeah, I'm beginning to have different thoughts about "farmer's market" produce. Not everything will necessarily be "good" just because it's "farmer's market".
                You really have to look at the source, and examine the produce for actual goodness/freshness. And TASTE the produce whenever possible.
                I'm glad I started this thread, and thanks to everyone who has contributed.