I seem to remember shelling beans as this awful, dusty onerous chore from my childhood. But now that I’ve grown to adulthood, and I’m growing very pretty speckled pole beans for shelling, it’s like breaking open little treasure-pods–fun to do while sitting on the porch in the sunshine, sipping a cup of tea.
The beans I grew for fresh-shell eating, canning, and drying are Bingo Borlotto beans from Territorial Seed. I love them–they are so pretty on the vine–all pink-threaded, and the beans are also dappled with pink-ish red spots that get darker as they dry.
There is also an occasional all-pink bean with white spots–like hitting the jackpot when you break them open. I might save a few of those for growing next year. Most pods have about eight big beans in them, and when they are cooked, they lose their pretty dappling and turn all white.
I’ve learned a bit about shell beans this year after having grown them successfully for the first time. I know now that this variety is easiest to shell for fresh-eating when the neck gets a little wrinkly and the pink turns purple. Then you can just pull the whole pod in half easily to reveal the beans inside.
I also am learning today just how incredibly easy it is to can fresh shell beans–though maybe I shouldn’t say that until they’re all safely out of the canner and sealed. But the process, once the pleasurable passtime of shelling them is done, is incredibly easy.
Putting Food By says to simply wash the beans, boil them in water for one timed minute (I threw a couple bay leaves in the water), then strain the hot beans out of the liquid, pack them loosely in the jars (I’m using pints), then cover with hot bean-cooking liquid, leaving one inch of headroom. Did you catch that? NO salt.
After that, put the jars in the pressure canner, put the lid on, let it vent, then process them for 40 minutes at 10lbs. pressure. (Then turn off the heat and let the canner get to zero pounds before opening.) That’s all–super-easy.
I found when packing the beans that a full one gallon resealable bag of fresh shell beans (not super-bulging can’t-zip-it-closed full–just full) fills eight pints–just the amount that fits in my big aluminum pressure canner. That’s a nice thing to know for the next batch–anything over that will be set aside for dried beans instead.
So, the beans are now happily cooking away inside my pressure canner, with its pressure gauge wiggling and jiggling every thirty seconds or so, venting off the excess pressure, and making my winter convenience food shelf-stable.
I may amend this post later on to include an image of the finished product.