Shellin’ Beans and Reminiscin’

We don’t eat green beans very often. The first couple of years that we gardened we grew a few but were finding most went to waste. Then I discovered how easy  it is to grow beans to the fresh shelling and dried stages. Not only do we end up with seed we can grow again next year, but there are so many different dishes we like that can be made with them: soup, chili, casseroles, cassoulet, baked beans and any number of Mexican dishes.

Shelled Beans

One of my little rituals I enjoy is picking a bag of the dried pods and then sitting on the deck cracking them open and dropping the beans into a bowl on my lap. I like to call it “Shellin’ Beans and Reminiscin’” because of the old-fashioned, homey feel of it, even though I don’t do much actual reminiscing during the process. Still, it’s a pleasant, meditative activity that’s a nice end to a gardening day. Sometimes I’ll pick the pods off several kinds of beans and let them get all mixed up during the shelling. Then I have the task of sorting them into different containers for storage, another relaxing activity. Each kind of bean looks entirely different from all the others so mix-ups are unlikely.  Half the reason I choose the beans to grow that I do is their appearance. I appreciate a pretty bean.

Bean Bounty

This summer, when it felt like there were more things to do than time to do them I resorted to a more efficient way of shelling the beans. I stomped around on the pods in a tub and then only had to pick through the ones that were more reluctant to be retrieved and winnowed the contents of the tub in front of a fan in the back yard. It worked well and took less time.  But I haven’t given up my old habits entirely. The stragglers that dried after the main wave have all been hand-shelled. I think regardless of how big my bean crops ever get I’ll be doing at least some of them the slow way. It’s a great part of the pleasure of growing beans.


8 thoughts on “Shellin’ Beans and Reminiscin’

  1. I can remember shellin’ beans with my grandmother and I think that’s one of the reasons I still take great pleasure in it. Plus there are so many beautiful and delicious beans that one would never find in the grocery. If I had the gardening space (and time) I’d probably grow enough to feed a small country. I’m slowly working my through the selection at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds…but I think it will be a long time before I’m able to try them all! 😉

    1. I think I’d need an acre more just to grow the stuff I lust after in the Baker Creek catalog! The downside to saving seeds–if there is such a thing–is that you’ve got to decide between giving space to the saved varieties or new ones.

  2. I like beans too but I only grow Borlotti like your beans. This year I cooked some not fully ripened and still tender and I found they tasted good too and had a different flavour from the mature ones. Amelia

    1. Yes, I can’t help but think a thorough drying might affect the flavor. The other thing I found growing my own beans like this is that even the dried ones cook faster than what I’ve bought at the store.

      1. True – how long beans cook depends on how old they are. And your home grown beans are probably not as old as the ones on sale in shops. It seems like dried beans keep forever and they do, but unfortuantelly as they age the cooking time goes up and the flavor deteriorates

  3. We grow some old Dutch bean varieties in the community garden and this year we also sold them during our spring plant/seed fair. One of them (“Wieringer”) was almost extinct so we are doing our best to spread it among gardeners again 🙂

    1. I enjoy hearing about old varieties being saved and shared. I don’t see Wieringer in the current Seed Savers Exchange yearbook so it must be pretty rare. Good for you for saving it!

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