To Snap: Do not wash beans before storing in refrigerator. When ready to use, break first one tip and then the other. Break into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Wash in cold water.
Note: Some varieties of green beans have strings which should be removed before snapping. After breaking the tips, use them to "unzip" the strings.
To Simmer: Place beans and cold water to cover in a saucepan; let stand for 10 minutes. Add ham hock and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. For a real "down-home" flavor, cook beans an additional 2 hours.