The green bean, also known as ejote, bean, pod, etc., is an immature fruit of the bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), which belongs to the legume family (fabaceae). Generally, the pod or green bean is a bright green succulent, its shape is flattened and elongated and its interior has several seeds that vary according to the species.
The word ejote comes from the Nahuatl word exotl, which means green bean. Its annual production in Mexico is around ninety thousand tons. Morelos is the main producer, with a contribution of almost thirty thousand tons, according to data from the Agrifood and Fisheries Information Service (SIAP).
In its fresh presentation, every hundred grams of green beans have a content of 88 g of moisture, 0.8 g of ash, 0.2 g of fat, 1 g of protein, 5.2 g of dietary fiber, 200 mg of potassium, 72 mg of calcium, 44 mg of phosphorus, 30 mg of sodium, 2 mg of iron and 0.4 mg of zinc.
Because it is rich in dietary fiber and minerals, but low in fat, green beans are considered a recommended food for consumption by people with obesity, a physical condition that has been identified as a health problem worldwide, since people have modified their diet and eating habits due to a variety of factors: economic growth, urbanization, the incorporation of women into the workforce and mass production of processed foods, among many others that make up the so-called "obesogenic environment".
Although green beans have been present in Mexican cuisine since pre-Hispanic times, and although they are still consumed, mainly in broths, it would be a good initiative to increase their consumption in salads or lightly sautéed in oil as a garnish.
An alternative to give added value to fresh products and conserve their nutritional properties, prolong their shelf life and improve the ease of transportation, is the osmotic dehydration method, which consists of submerging the legume in a sucrose solution to reduce the water content by 50 to 60%, without modifying its nutritional properties.
At the Culiacán Regional Coordination of the Food and Development Research Center (CIAD), research was conducted using three osmotic solutions of 30°, 40°, and 50° Brix of sucrose for dehydrating green beans. The best formulation, according to the sensory characteristics of the bean, was the 40° Brix sucrose formulation, which yielded 12 g of moisture, 0.7 g of ash, 0.2 g of fat, 1 g of protein, 10 g of dietary fiber, 117 mg of potassium, 74 mg of calcium, 37 mg of phosphorus, 70 mg of sodium, 2 mg of iron and 0.6 mg of zinc in 100 g of dehydrated bean. Therefore, it is considered that the osmotic dehydration method is a viable alternative to conserve the nutritional properties of green beans and for people to consume nutritious food.
Source: Collaboration by Verónica Pérez Rubio, a researcher at the Food Technology Laboratory of the Culiacán Regional Coordination of CIAD.