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how to dry beans (hint: don't rush them!)

 I GREW SOME GREAT BEANS for drying this year–varieties you could make into baked beans, for instance, or add to vegetable soup, or simply serve as a side dish, cooked up with onion and bay leaf and carrot in just enough water to cover them plus a bit, simmering till tender and delicious. But unlike beans I grow for eating green, these guys make you wait–but how long? About six weeks after the fresh-eating stage, typically, but here’s the thing: You really have to watch the weather, which can be wet in fall, the antithesis to drying anything. How to dry shelling beans, like ‘Christmas Lima,’ above (or ‘Rattlesnake’ or ‘Aunt Ada’s Italian,’ and more about using this important, nutritious food.

  1. narf7 says:

    I love using dried beans a lot as a vegan and am planning on growing them on Serendipity Farm so I know where they come from. Cheers for a great post :)

  2. Catherine says:

    Your baked bean recipe is outrageously good! Since I had no fresh tomatoes I used a can of diced, added a tad more mustard and 6-8 shots of tabasco sauce in the last phase. I will definitely make these on a regular basis even though at our altitude (7,000 ft.) they take about 12-13 hours to cook. Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe! Ever thought about a cookbook?

  3. Norma says:

    Thanks to you, I was inspired to dry the last of my black-eyed pea crop this summer (as opposed to eating them fresh – a delicacy here in the south.) I’m looking forward to cooking them in the near future!

  4. Nancy says:

    I spent about 15 years in such poverty that eating beans regularly was the norm. I remember in college when a foods 101 professor asked the class how many there used dried beans and I got astounded looks when I explained that I seldom had fewer than 15 pounds on hand at any one time.

    I still eat beans – not as often – but at least once-weekly – because I like them. These days, I usually marry them with some flavorful meats and make enough to freeze for later. My favorite beans to dry are the scarlet runners. They make such great mouthfuls! A friend exclaimed “It’s like eating a potato in every spoonful!”

    1. Lisa Portnoff says:

      We planted green beans, and let them go too long on the vine because we had too many. They have huge seeds, and I’m wondering if I can dry and cook them, like shell beans? Would they be good??

  5. Dried beans are nutritious and low-cost, making them a wonderful vegan/vegetarian substitute for meats! But, here in southern IN, where it is seriously humid in the summer, we can’t do dry beans. I know of nobody around here who’s had success with growing beans for drying. Total bummer.

    1. Ross says:

      Hint: Dry them in your car on those hot sunny days with car parked where it gets full sun for as long as possible during the day. Be sure to put them on a towel or newspaper. When your car starts to cool(ie..an hour or so til sundown), crack the car doors til the sun sets. This lets moisture out of the car from the heated beans in the car. Close the door and repeat until they are dry. Also move them around at least once a day, turning them over will make drying faster and keep a prettier shape. Size and type of bean will be a factor in how long it takes. Typically a week will suffice, maybe less if it’s a very hot string of days. Making sure they are mostly in the sun will give them a sundried enhanced flavor, but will somewhat bleach them. That is why I dry them in the hull stringed and broken(like you prepare fresh broken up green beans). More vibrant color and still get the flavor. You can then cook them in the dried hulls(shuck beans or leather britches we call them here) or you can also remove the dried hulls and have a regular dried bean. It’s best to bag and freeze them for storage, if you are storing them longterm without freezing, a good way to do so is in an air tight container and use a disposable handwarmer like hunters use in the container. Start the handwarmer, lay it on top of the beans in the container(wrap the handwarmer in a wash cloth to keep it out of contact with the beans) then seal the container. The disposable handwarmer uses a chemical reaction to make heat and uses up the oxygen in the container making them last for potentially several years. Learned this trick from the Minonites. They use this trick to keep barrels of grain, rice, ect. for a very long time.

      1. Ross says:

        PS: the towels(in the car), the container or bags for storage, and the wash cloth to wrap the disposable one time use handwarmer must be bone dry else your beans may mold. Also if freezing them, pressing air out of the bag will help prevent freezer burn. Keep in mind when drying them, only keep them in a single layer not over crowded.

  6. Kathryn Wilson says:

    Do you have to used dried beans for making baked beans or can you use fresh (I have a crop of Rattlesnake beans I need to do something with).

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Kathryn. I have never tried it, but hey, if you have enough to shell matured seeds (beans) from the pods, how bad can they be with all these sauce ingredients added in? I would not pre-cook them, of course, and would keep the “sauce” keep the additions on the less-liquidy side. Interesting question.

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