Main varieties of Australia's most popular bean, the green bean, are Larador, Branco and Matadore. They differ from butter beans only by colour - butter beans are cream or pale yellow. Flat beans have a pale-green pod up to 20cm long and 2cm wide.
When choosing beans, go for bright, crisp pods that are free of blemishes. They should snap easily. Avoid mature beans, which have large seeds and swollen pods.
Beans are fragile. Store them unwashed, in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper. They are best eaten within four days.
Simply wash and then 'top and tail' (remove both ends as well as the 'string'). Steam, boil, stir-fry or microwave for no longer than 3-5 minutes. If serving cold, plunge into iced water after cooking.
5 quick ways with beans
Create a salad nicoise by combining boiled new potatoes, green onions, hard-boiled eggs and black olives with blanched green beans and a light dressing.
In a small bowl, combine 500g cooked green beans with finely chopped garlic, parsley leaves and halved cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with Dijon dressing.
Fry 4 rashers bacon with wedges of red onion until cooked. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic and 400g butter beans. Stir until cooked. Serve sprinkled with toasted pine nuts.
Cook 4 crushed garlic cloves with 6 anchovy fillets and 1 tablespoon dried chilli on medium heat until anchovies have melted. Add 410g canned tomatoes, a splash of water and 400g trimmed flat beans. Season, then simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with barbecued swordfish steak.
Combine 1 can rinsed butter beans with 1 clove garlic, some extra virgin olive oil, fresh parsley and lemon juice in a food processor. Serve with your choice of crudités.