Beans

We grow a lot of beans in the summer.

We always grow green beans (known around here usually as “string beans” or “snaps”). Our favorite variety is a flat bush bean called “Roma.” Green beans are a “pick and come again” vegetable and we’re usually able to get 3 or more pickings off a plant. They’re delicious and an essential homesteader’s food, in my opinion.

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October beans are another summertime favorite around here. I’m not sure how they came to have that name. On the seed packets they’re called “horticultural beans,” but I’ve never heard anyone refer to them that way.

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Last night's supper. October beans with crispy sage and garlic, tomato salad with homemade dressing, cornbread with homemade tomato jam, and fresh Crimson Sweet watermelon.

Last night’s supper. October beans with crispy sage and garlic, tomato salad with homemade dressing, cornbread with homemade tomato jam, and fresh Crimson Sweet watermelon.

We’re also growing black beans. We developed a love of them while living in Tampa. They are very popular in Cuban cuisine. I’ve never known anyone else around here to grow them and we sold out quickly last year. Whereas green beans and October beans are “fresh beans,” black beans are dried on the vine before picking.  I just yank up the whole plant and stuff them into large tubs for shelling later.

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This year we’re growing white cannellini beans for the first time and they are almost ready for harvest. They’re also a dry bean. We enjoy eating them (kale and white bean soup is a cold weather favorite) so I’m pleased that we’ll have them home-grown this year.

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Beans require a lot more work that some crops, so plenty of farms like ours don’t bother with them. Weeding, picking and prepping them is time-consuming. But I’m glad to have them as part of our seasonal eating repertoire.

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31 comments on “Beans

  1. smcasson says:

    I’ve never known anyone to home-grow dry beans. Cool! (I’ve never known anyone personally to grow the vast majority of their own food, either. ) I’ve also never been successful at re-constituting dry beans for things like chili or soup.
    I agree, green beans (“gee-bees” – GBs) are a homestead requirement. We have them 3-4 nights per week.
    Those October beans are pretty, with the red speckling.
    Do you grow black-eyed peas?

    Liked by 1 person

    • BeeHappee says:

      Scott, we only home-grew dry beans (back in Lithuania) – never purchased or had canned beans. Fingers used to get almost bloody from shelling. Thus I am used to only dried beans and cook most of the times with dry / soaked beans.
      I have one bean loving kids, she east beans all different ways. 🙂 Our dry bean favorite is pinto. That one we eat up just cooked as finger food.

      Bill, I never had those October beans before. They look delicious. So does homemade tomato jam. And cannellini / kale soup is our winter favorite also! I was looking at chick pea plants at my CSA, looking forward to the harvest of those.
      Thanks for the beany update!

      Liked by 1 person

    • valbjerke says:

      One trick to reconstituting beans – don’t use ‘hard’ water (our well water is extremely hard), don’t use ‘softened’ water – neither work. We just bring a jug of plain ‘town’ water home for soaking beans. Use plenty, soak at least overnight, and change the water at least three times. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      We grow pink-eye purple hulls, which are very similar to black-eyed peas. We have a large garden of them but I got it planted late this year (deer ate my first attempt) so they’re still a couple of weeks away. We love them.

      I think October beans are called cranberry beans in other parts of the country, but I’m not certain they’re the same thing.

      We never grew dry beans when I was growing up, although my grandparents bought 50 lb sacks of pinto beans. It was about the only thing their family ate that they didn’t grow. I’m not sure why.

      Dry beans take longer to get to harvest and they don’t produce as much as green beans. But they’re easy to store of course (we’re still eating black beans from two years ago–they just wait patiently in a big jar in the pantry) and you can just put all the plants somewhere out of the way after you’ve pulled them up and shell them at your leisure. It’s a good wintertime chore. I’ve become a fan and plan to grow even more next year.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. daphnegould says:

    Beans used to be a staple in my garden. Sadly I can’t eat them right now without getting sick. But my favorite of all time was Tiger Eye. It was really beautiful. The main reason I loved it was the texture which was so smooth and the taste was delicious. It was the worst performer in the garden though. I had to give it a lot of space to get enough beans.

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  3. Sue says:

    I couldn’t imagine life without beans–they’re a staple around here.
    Your supper looks fantastic—just perfect for a hot summer meal.

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  4. shoreacres says:

    I was introduced to Cuban black beans and rice (the famous “Moors and Christians”) in Key West. I love them, and often use them in dishes like black bean salsa (add peppers, sweet corn, onion, etc.). And white beans are a winter staple, especially in white chicken chile.

    I wonder if there’s anyone out there who would purchase your black beans from far distant states? Gosh — I wonder who that would be? 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      We always recommend trying to find a local source. I’ll bet there are some great black beans being grown in your area.

      I only knew one Cuban restaurant in Tampa that served white rice. Black beans and rice was a staple everywhere, but it was always done with yellow rice. We came to love that dish and still eat it on occasion. Black bean salsa is one of the world’s greatest foods. 🙂

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      • shoreacres says:

        Actually, the only ones I’ve been able to find are in the grocery store. I’ve been hoarding some Black Valentines from a place in Thomson, Illinois!

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      • Bill says:

        That surprises me. With your long hot summers and the popularity of black beans in Tex-Mex food, I would’ve guessed you’d have great local black beans there. I wonder where they’re grown on a large commercial scale. I’m curious now so I’ll look into that.

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      • shoreacres says:

        There may be a lingering historical memory that makes black beans less popular here as a crop. Look at this!

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  5. nebraskadave says:

    Bill,

    Beans Beans they’re my favorite fruit

    Even through they can really make me toot

    I would never give a bean the boot

    Because there my favorite fruit

    Yes, indeed beans are common place at my table. They’re straight up cooked, in my soup, in some salads, barbecued, baked, or straight out of the can. Beans are my favorite food. Mix them with a little rice and a daily staple is made. Too bad no one in the household cares much for beans but that just leaves more for me. My beans in the garden are in the drying out time of the year. I’ve never tried to save dried beans before but this year it just seems the natural thing to do. Beans seem like an easy plant to use for beginning seed saving so I’ll be giving it a try to see if they will grow next year.

    Have a great bean preserving day.

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    • Bill says:

      Being such a fan of beans, I highly recommend you try growing some to dry. You just need to keep the weeds out until the plant has matured. After that just wait until the pods are all dried up, then yank up the plants, stuff them in tubs or sacks and shell the beans at your leisure. Good eating. 🙂

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  6. Joanna says:

    We grow a lot of beans and I don’t think they are that much hassle really. We tend to grow pole beans and start them off in the greenhouse. Once tethered up and mulched they outgrow the weeds pretty quickly. Bush beans don’t get as much attention as they need here, but we still get enough beans to see us through. Your October beans look like my Borlotti beans only pinker. I like making a bean hummus to go on bread. It is a tasty alternative filling for this sandwich loving household.

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    • Bill says:

      Like most folks around here, we grow bush beans. It’s important to keep them weeded and the close weeding has to be done by hand. Pick them is slow-going and can be hard on the back. They’re worth the work, but the time required means you don’t usually see them in CSA’s, in my experience.

      Bean hummus sounds interesting. Will have to look into that.

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      • Joanna says:

        I maybe using a loose term for the resulting mixture. I basically use beans, olive oil, salt and something lemony, which could be a herb or it could be an actual lemon. Sometimes I use apple cider vinegar instead and sometimes I actually add sesame seeds too. I can’t find tahini here in our village and I try not to buy in too many ingredients anyway

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Laurie@hinterlands.me says:

    Last night we had Farmer Kev’s green beans—in Maine we call them sting beans, too—with sage and browned butter. So good. I’ve been dreaming about a sage, chicken, and white bean stew. Something for the fall. That dinner you posted looks pretty darned good, to borrow from my Yankee husband.

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    • Bill says:

      I called them “snaps” when I was growing up, but most folks called them string beans (that’s still the most popular way people here refer to them). One of my favorite foods.

      Yup, it was a good meal. This is a great time of year for seasonal eating.

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  8. valbjerke says:

    I grow my dry beans on the greenhouse up here – gives me a longer season that way. Come October I just pull the roots up and leave hanging until I get to shelling. The only problem – the plants grow out the greenhouse vents 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • valbjerke says:

      ‘In’ the greenhouse.

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    • Bill says:

      The first year I grew dry beans I picked and shelled them the same way I did fresh beans. Then one year I was in a hurry to beat the frost so I just yanked the whole plant out of the ground and shoved them into large tubs and sat them in the basement for shelling later. Then later I discovered that you can mash on the dried pods in the tub and most of the beans come out and settle in the bottom of the tub. That isn’t explained well but I’m sure you know what I mean. Not necessary to shell every pod.

      Liked by 1 person

      • valbjerke says:

        Good plan – I might try that this year. The ‘mashing’ idea is how I do my mustard seeds – even at that it’s a time consuming process. Still – well worth it when I make my own mustards 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. avwalters says:

    Ours is a fickle garden this year, but the two things doing really well are the green beans and potatoes. We’re enjoying green beans almost every night and look forward to a nice potato harvest. I’ve never had success with potatoes before; if it works out, we’ll do them in a big way in the future.

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    • Bill says:

      Potatoes are another essential homesteading food in my opinion. Lots of production and caloric value, easy to store, and a delicious staple. Potatoes do fine in poor soil so they’re a great crop while you’re working on building up your soil. And perhaps best of all, deer don’t eat them. Well, not yet at least.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Yum! Sorry I missed stopping by for supper!
    I love the idea of yanking the whole bean plant – I do it with plants I’m saving seed for – but it makes perfect sense you could do it with dry beans. A pure stroke of genius Bill!
    My favorite way with snap beans is to toss them with steamed (or roasted) potatoes and pesto.

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    • Bill says:

      Necessity is the mother of invention in this case. I was racing time a couple of years ago, and it dawned on me that I could just pull up the whole plant and pick and shell the beans later. Since then I’ve learned that lots of people do it that way.
      I love green beans. One way we’ve been enjoying them this year is roasted with balsamic vinegar. It’s hard to go wrong with them. 🙂

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  11. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Yummy and beautiful into the bargain: )
    So tell me, after making us all totally ravenous, does Cherie have recipes for all of these dishes you’ve just mentioned over there, on her blog? ‘Cause I sure am hoping so (but, most especially for corn bread; )

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