Monday, August 3, 2015

"To Bean, or Not To Bean..."

What follows is a tale of marital (mis) communication...

Last week I went out of town, the type of trip in which I had no access whatsoever to phone or internet.  After 6 days of being 'off the grid', I returned to civilization and called my husband to see how things were going (my flight home being the next morning).  I always enjoy getting the garden update, but was concerned when he mentioned the green beans he had picked:

As it turns out, these particular beans are 'shelling beans', that is, you're not supposed to pick them until they dry on the vine. Once dry, you 'shell' the pods to get the beans within. These ones have a 90 day maturity cycle, much longer than regular green beans.

Naturally, some argument and confusion ensued.  Nicolas claimed I didn't tell him not to pick the green ones - I don't have any markings in the garden as to what's what, and I suggested that I did, indeed mention to only pick the yellow ones.  For those of you out there with spouses, you understand that the 'truth' is most likely somewhere in the middle.  But let's get back to the beans...

Because we hate to waste anything in our house, I was hoping that we could still use these beans.  I tried to steam some, but could only eat the youngest of them because the pods are just too stringy and fibrous.  Nicolas successfully put them in a lentil soup, cutting them in small pieces and then sautee-ing them before adding them to the soup.  This seemed to soften the pods enough to eat, though some tough strings remained and had to be spit out.

This is the first year we've tried shelling beans (clearly!), and Nicolas and I both had a good laugh over the whole thing.  Our garden is always one big experiment in which we learn something new every year.  We do still have plenty more green beans on the vine, anyway.

For the record, here's what the shelling beans are supposed to look like just before harvest:

Dried bean on the vine

Harvested beans - it's actually quite fun to shell them!
Shelled beans
One other thing I'm learning in my first experience with shelling beans - you need a LOT of pods just to get even a cup of dried beans (see above).  I'm not sure I'll try this again next year, but if I do, I'll make sure to properly communicate the harvesting guidelines.

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