Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Full O'Beans

Have I mentioned that we are growing 9 kinds of beans this year?

This is just part of the selection. Center row from left to right: Borlotto beans (also shelled in the bowl at top left), Flageolet, Purple Hull Black Eyed peas (also shelled in freezer bag at top right), Garden of Eden, and at the bottom, Yard Long beans which are really more like 12-16 inches.

I always plant a trio of bush snap beans. Blue Lake because for some reason I ordered a pound of seeds about 15 years ago- they still germinate every time, I'm looking forward to using them up and ordering something new, D wants to try try the french filet beans next year. Roc D'Or, a heavy producing long yellow wax bean, and Romanette a flat, meaty one that I can no longer get seed for so will have to try something new.

We finally pulled up all the snap beans last week to make way for fall crops, they had lots of big beans on them which are on a newspaper in my office drying to see if we can make shell beans out of them. We ate a ton, gave lots away, canned dilly beans and froze a bunch to toss in winter veggie soups and still there were more on the vines that got huge while we were away.

Now we are shelling beans too. Borlotto has a flashy pod with red flames and fat beans that are also red and white, I shell and freeze these, they're great in soups and we cooked a big pot the other day and they were reminiscent of pinto beans.

Flageolet are just starting to come in, never grew these before, they are small, I guess that is one of the reasons they are special and expensive, more shelling for fewer beans, they are a minty green color and I look forward to tasting them.

An heirloom variety, Garden of Eden, are also new this year, a broad green bean that looks like its going to be tough and stringy but cooks quickly and is tender yet meaty and no strings!

What are not really beans, are purple hulls, a black-eyed pea that freeze really well and make a fabulous soup with greens and some pork product come winter. The perfect dish to dip some cornbread into.

The yard long bean, also truly in the pea family is from southeast Asia. They are bodacious in stir fries and udon noodle dishes.

Last but not least are the Turkey Craw. Somebody gave D these seeds with the story that they were discovered in the craw of a turkey someone butchered. They've got a vine like Jack's that grows to the top of the 8 foot trellis and then all over itself until it makes a big gnarly mop on top and then it starts to set the beans. They are brown when dried, darker on one end of the bean than the other. They have set good fruit this year, better than previous attempts and we are awaiting their maturation so we can harvest and shell them.

The trick with these shell beans is to get them when their shells are starting to dry and feel a bit leathery but before they start to get moldy, a challenge with all the wet weather we've been having. If you aren't planting beans in your garden then you are missing out.

Shelling them is pretty easy, gives you something to do while watching mindless TV, like the Republican National Convention.

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