In West Virginia, we take our fresh green beans seriously. And we love them so much that we cook them for HOURS! Imagine my horror when a northern friend cooked hers for 15 minutes. I still mourn those poor green beans who didn't have a chance to make good.
Not to start another Civil War, and respecting all cooking styles, but here's the way you do it where I come from. =^..^=
Check out these beauties! Grab a "mess" of fresh green beans from the garden or support your local farmstand or farmer's market to find them.
Snap off the ends & pull out any strings on both sides. I also snap the beans into a fairly uniform size.
Wash them carefully, looking for any bad spots to trim out.
Put the green beans into a sauce pan or dutch oven, depending on how many beans you're cooking. I usually use the dutch oven since I seldom cook less than a pound of green beans and often more.
Add water to cover the beans.
Add the meat. One ham hock (Mom's preference) will cook up to about 2 or so pounds of green beans. Anything else is just the cook's preference as to amount.
Mom always added about a tablespoon of sugar to a pot of beans. For the smaller amount of beans I cooked in this demo, I used about 1/2 of the amount on the tablespoon.
Cover & cook over MEDIUM-LOW heat for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes (setting the timer so I won't forget) and checking on the water level. If it's boiling away too quickly, turn down the stove. Keep the beans covered with water for the first 2 hours of cooking.
When the beans are fork tender and start to fall apart a bit, remove the lid and allow the water to cook down for another 30 to 60 minutes, stirring more often & watching closely.
I usually don't need to add additional salt since the meat is salty, but taste before serving to decide.
OK, stop eating those green beans and save some for supper! =^..^=