Monday, September 26, 2011

Drying Beans

We planted 'Jacobs Cattle', a soup bean with a long and storied history.  They say this bean came across the Prairies in settlers' wagons as this country (and the United States) was being discovered and settled.  It's a plump red bean with white speckles, it is excellent for soups, stews and, of course, baked beans!  As we're interested in supplying ourselves more fully during the winter months, we figured we needed some dried beans.

'Jacobs Cattle' grew well over the summer, as did most of our beans.  We left them on the bushes until everything was crispy, brown and rattling.  Once picked, they spent a couple of days in crates, drying outside in the garage.  I'd go out and shake the crates every so often, to keep them aerated.  Then, because we're desperate for crates as we continue to harvest our twenty eight varieties of potatoes, and as we continue do to Farmers Markets, I turned the bean pods out onto newspaper in the sun room.  The sun room is dry and warm right now, and I can keep the dogs out with a gate.  They've sat there for a few more days and now it's time for shelling.  A little disappointing: each pod should contain five plump beans and most of ours had three beans and a couple of undeveloped ones.  Working with 'fresh' shelled beans in the winter will be a pleasure:  they don't require the long soaking or parboiling that older beans would need.  We'll shell them and then leave them to dry a few more days out on newspaper, then we'll clean them and store them in, probably, canning jars - 'cause that's what's on hand!  Baked beans with Manitoba Maple Syrup! Oh, yeah!


  1. It's a funny thing but I rarely use beans and I've never seen anyone grow these kind for storing before. What other things can you use them in besides baked beans and soup?

  2. Hi, Marguerite! They're sooo easy to grow, it's just a bean you don't pick for a long time! We don't eat a lot of meat, and beans, combined with rice, gives a complete protein so they're a staple for us. We put them in stews and sautees, as well as soups and baked beans. Refried (really once fried) for wraps and tacos. We'll leave a stew to thickena bit after dinner, and use that for wraps, too.