Shell Dry Beans

"Shell beans" are the many varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris that are dried on the vine, shelled, stored dry, and then served in chilis, soups, casseroles, etc. Basically you grow shell beans (beans for drying) just as you grow bush beans (almost all of them are bush rather than pole types), but you harvest them differently.

varieties: All the beans described in the following paragraphs are Phaseolus vulgaris varieties. Soybeans, lentils, dried peas, garbanzos, and black-eyes are good shell "beans" too, and much of the following info also applies to them, but details about growing them are discussed elsewhere in this chapter. Snap bean varieties don't make the best shell beans, and shell beans don't make the best snap beans. There are a myriad special shell bean varieties, each slightly or substantially different from all the others in size, color, days to maturity, best climate for growing, etc. In general, large-seeded beans are easier to shell and will produce more per space than smaller-seeded beans will. Plant several types and then narrow it down for future gardens to the one(s) that produce best for you. Black. The black bean is Latin America's favorite bean. Small, glossy black (a.k.a. turtle) beans grow on semi-vining bushy plants. They can be grown anywhere with 85 to 115 warm, frostfree days. If you have disease and insect problems, black beans are a good choice because they're especially resistant. Black beans are small, but they have more nutrients than pintos. Good in the South. Available from Park and Johnny's.

Horticultural. This popular homestead bean is also known as "wren's egg bean," "shell bean," and numerous other names. These beans are good as snap, green shell, or dried beans but are most commonly used as a green shell bean. There's a pole variety and a dwarf one, which takes about 60 days to produce green shell beans. Other varieties need 90 days for full, dried-bean maturity Horticultural is a very popular kind of shell bean in all its varieties. It gets a high yield per square foot and is good canned and frozen. Available from Territorial.

Kidney. The kidney bean is Mexico's most popular bean and the one traditionally used in chili and kidney bean salads. It takes 95 days to maturity. Its pods are about 6 inches long. It's also available in other varieties, including a white bean called cannellini. It has been called the easiest shell bean to grow. Available from Territorial. Pinto. The pinto can be grown anywhere with 85 to 105 warm, frostfree days. The fast variety is one of the fastest to mature and generally produces well. Grow pintos as you would pole beans.

Others. Other varieties include Boston, brown Dutch, California small white, Italian shell, and the following types.

• Coco: Can be used as snap beans, green shell beans, and dry beans; plump, black, relatively quick-cooking; from Territorial.

• Cranberry: Large, egg-shaped, reddish-brown seeds.

• Foul Madammas: a Middle Eastern bean.

• Great Northern: A big white bean with heavy yields; 90 days to maturity; bushy plant, good for short-season places, also can be harvested as green shell beans.

• Marrow: Popular kind.

• Navy: Traditional white soup bean; 95 days to maturity; prolific producer.

• Pink: California pink is a pole bean.

In general, shell beans are available from Burpee, Comstock, Gurney, Harris, Johnny's, Shumway, Stokes, Vermont Bean, etc.

planting: Follow directions for planting bush or pole beans, whichever you have.


NOTE: These instructions for drying and threshing are appropriate for almost any legume, including peas. Dried beans are so important to a subsistence diet. . . Drying on the Vine. You can leave the bean pods hanging on the plants until they are fully mature and the beans inside have become so dry that they are very hard. If the rains will hold off long enough, it's ideal to wait until most of the leaves have yellowed or fallen off. But getting shell beans dry on the vine before they mold can be difficult in hot, humid climates —or in cool, perpetually rainy ones. If you're expecting rain, a way to deal with the matter in a hurry is to pull out the plants by the roots and move them into an airy but safely covered place to finish drying. Another problem with vine drying is that it reduces or stops further production. Drying Off the Vine. So consider drying off the vine—in or out of the pod. Drying in the pod seems to work best for most types of bean. Picking from the vines on a very dry day helps avoid mold. Our summers are very hot and dry, perfect for drying fruits and vegetables (except for the August hordes of wasps). The one place where you could goof is by not starting to dry them as soon as you pick them. If you leave them heaped up for very long, such as in a bucket or a pile—even in a very dry place—the lower layers will mold and get slimy. That means the whole bucketful is a loss, because those mold spores will be ahead of you. I use a sheet spread out on the ground in the full sun. I scatter the pods on it so there are none on top of each other. In the evening I gather up the corners of the sheet to make a sack and haul it all in so they won't get damp again in the night dew; I put them out again the next morning.

Drying right out in the sunshine really works better than drying indoors. But if you have lots of rain in summer or a rainy spell just when you are trying to dry pods, you can shell out the beans and finish drying them in your oven or dryer on trays. You are safest when the dried beans (or peas) are so hard and dry that they shatter when struck by a hammer.

Bean Threshing! Once your beans are dried, you can shell directly into your storage containers (which can be virtually anything), or you can thresh them out onto a clean floor and get the kids to pick them up for you. I generally leave the shelling for later in the season, after the rush is over. Folks who leave beans on the vine until the pods are dry, or who pull up the plants and let them dry in an airy place under cover, can thresh any time after the dried pods have become so dry they are brittle.

One easy threshing system is to put the pods (plants and all if that's how you harvested them) into a burlap bag. It works best if you resew it into a long, cylindrical shape. Have the bag open at the top, and hang it from something. You can stuff bean plants/pods in the top. Have it openable at the bottom but tied off with something for the time being. Put the brittle pods in there and then beat the bag with something like a stick. Periodically, open the bottom of the bag and let the loose beans that have collected at the bottom pour on down into a basket or some such. Or shell them out, pod by pod, by hand. Or hold several plants by the roots and whack them back and forth inside a large barrel-type container. Or flail a pile of them. Or stuff them into a sack with holes in the bottom and then stomp or beat on the sack. Or put the beans into a big tub and stomp on them to some lively tunes. Or buy a family-sized motorized pea sheller from Lehman's.

Winnowing and Final Drying. Pour from a container to a blanket outside on a windy day. Or sift across a seed-cleaning wire screen in the wind. If you doubt whether your seeds are dry enough, give them another week or two or three, spread out where they will finish drying. Don't waste those leftover bean plants and pods. Plow them back under or compost. If you've had trouble with disease, however, you should burn them.

Storing Dried Beans: Store both shelled and un-shelled beans in a cool place. Conventional wisdom advises putting them in tightly lidded plastic, metal, or glass containers, but that may not work as well as keeping them in burlap sacks or other permeable material, out of rodents' reach. For some reason, storing peas and beans in airtight containers can result in growth of fungi, odd smells, spoilage, and lower viability of seed. The important thing is to keep the humidity down. But no matter how dry seed is to start with, it will end up as dry as the place where you store it. If you live in the South, you'll have a harder time keeping any dried food.

Insects. The basics of grain and bean storage are almost identical. But dried beans have a worse time of it with bugs than grains do. Storing beans in a bugproof container prevents mama bugs from getting in there to do their thing. If eggs or tiny insect larvae are already on or in beans that have been harvested, there are 3 basic responses: freezing, boiling, or baking. Unless you kill the bugs, they will destroy the beans, even if you put those beans into a tightly covered container.

Freezing: If you aren't planning to use the beans for seed, you can store them in the freezer temporarily or until needed. Two weeks at 0°F will take care of any bean weevils.

Boiling: Put the beans in a coarse sack or basket and dip into boiling water for just a minute or two. Then hang up to drip dry. That should get rid of the insects and won't harm the beans' ability to keep.

Baking: Heat in the oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes with the door slightly open to prevent overheating. Just don't put in too many beans at once. Then put beans into that tightly covered container.

Bean Flour. If you have your own flour grinder, you can grind your own dried peas, lentils, soybeans, etc., to make a flour. The commercially produced pea and lentil flours are precooked, so your home-ground flours won't act exactly the same. These vegetable flours can be added to any bread-type recipe and are good that way. But don't substitute them for wheat flour. Bean flour will help you get more food mileage out of your beans if you have a lot of them some year. Cooking Dried Beans and Peas: Some store-bought beans are partially precooked, so make sure, whatever recipe you use, that the home-dried beans are actually done before you commence with the rest of it. In general, they are soaked awhile and then cooked. If you cook them in the water in which they were soaked, you save nourishment. Then they are combined with something like pork, molasses, tomatoes, onions, or spices because they are awfully bland foods to eat alone.

Bean Cooking Times. Drier beans require longer cooking times. Assuming beans have been given a pre-treatment of 2 minutes of boiling followed by 1 hour of soaking, the average cooking times are 2 to 2lh hours for kidney, pink, cranberry, and pinto beans; 272 hours for black beans; 2l/i to 3 hours for great northern and marrow beans; and 3 to 3V2 hours for navy, small white, and small red beans. Pressure Cooking. Don't pressure-cook limas, butter beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, split peas, whole dried peas, or lentils because they foam too much and can clog the vent. Basic directions for pressure-cooking other beans: Presoak or merely wash them. Put beans into cooker, adding 3 to 4 cups of water per 1 c. beans. Never fill cooker more than one-third full. Bring beans to a boil. Add a little fat to water to reduce tendency to foam. Put lid on cooker. Set gauge for 15 lb. Keep heat so gauge jiggle is steady but not extremely fast. When cooking time is up, hold cooker under cold running water. Vent remaining steam and open. Assuming beans have been boiled and presoaked as above, pressure-cooking times for beans are 8 minutes for great northerns, marrows, and black beans (25 minutes if unsoaked) and 10 minutes for navy, small white, and small red beans (30-35 minutes if unsoaked). Oven-Cooked Beans. From Diane Stark, Corinne, UT: "Don't even soak them. Just wash and put in the oven for the night at about 300°F Add double or triple usual amount of water so they don't cook dry in the night. Cook them in a good beanpot or casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid so the liquid doesn't evaporate. The next morning I salt and season them. Don't stir too much, as they are so tender they fall to pieces. It's fun to scoop out a few large spoonfuls, mash up, and cook refried beans for breakfast. And beans cooked this way never give you gas!" bean Puree: Any kind of dried beans can be boiled and then served as a wet mixture of mashed and whole beans plus some of the bean broth and seasonings. Call it "bean puree" or "fried beans." They're wonderfully adaptable. Season with cumin, cayenne, and coriander—or whatever. Put them in breads, cakes, and soups; on sandwiches; and so on. Here are some more fancy recipes for fried beans.

"REFRIED" BEANS Mash cooked beans fried in oil with onions and seasonings (like garlic, tomato puree, and red pepper) until the moisture has mostly evaporated, but don't let them burn! Good with little cubes of cheddar or jack-type cheese stirred in or sprinkled on top to melt Ruth of Bonaire says, "Refried beans can be made without oil, either in a skillet or in the oven with water or juice for moisture. Use about 'A c. water for 3 c. cooked beans."

RUTH'S BEAN SPREAD Someday I betcha Ruth is going to write her own recipe book. It boggles my mind that she is only 13. "In a large pan, in 'A c. water, saute a finely chopped onion, a green pepper, 3 ribs celery, and about A c. coarsely shredded carrots for about 10 minutes. Then add about 3 c. cooked beans (garbanzos, navy beans, or any leftover beans), some crushed garlic, I T. curry powder (maybe a pinch of hot pepper), and a slug of tamari. Also add about l-VAic. water or vegetable<ooking water. Mix well. Then put the pan into the oven and bake the spread until the liquid is absorbed (about I hour at 350°F). Cool. Then mash with a potato masher. Chill before using. Good sandwich material." Ruth's Many Uses for Plain Cooked, Mashed Beans. First cook them well. Mash and add some cooking water and/or lemon juice and spices. Use garbanzos for Middle Eastern dishes, pinto beans for Mexican, black beans for Caribbean, lentils for Egyptian.

1. Spread plain on bread or crackers.

2. Use as a dip for raw veggies.

3. Take mash with a thick consistency. Form into 1-inch balls. Roll in crumbs and deep-fry. (If done with garbanzos, this is falafel, which is eaten stuffed into pocket bread with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and/or anything else you like.)

4. Heavily spice kidney-bean mash. Form into rolls and fry to make veggie hot dogs!

5. Thin with tomato juice and use as salad dressing.

6. Mix with chopped onion, tomato, pepper, zucchini, etc. Pile into a sandwich (rye bread) with mustard or something else for a mock chicken or egg salad. (Grated carrot with garbanzo mash is like mock salmon or deviled ham.)

7. Form into patties and fry as "hamburgers."

8. Mix with chopped veggies; stuff into hollowed-out zucchini, green peppers, eggplant, or tomato; and bake.

9. Roll up mashed beans (seasoned) with chopped veggies in large, steamed leaves of cabbage. Cover with tomato sauce. Bake until bubbly.

10. Make thick batter of 1 part cornmeal, 2 parts boiling water, and maybe a glug of cooking oil. Fry into large pancakes. Then spread with mashed beans, tomato sauce, and chopped onion. Roll up. Presto—a Mexican crepe!

11. Use your imagination. There are endless possibilities! Sauces for Cooked Whole Beans: Because most dried beans are on the bland side, a tasty sauce can really improve them. See "Tomatoes" for good tomato sauce recipes. For a molasses sauce, combine 3 c. water from the bean cooking with 3 t. molasses, 1 t. vinegar, 1 t. salt, and 3/41. dry mustard.

Shell Bean Recipe Ideas: Cook beans with pork; serve with rice. Saute precooked beans with green pepper strips and diced onion. Cook with onions, basil, and garlic, and serve with Parmesan cheese. Mix with a molasses sauce and serve with sliced tomatoes and guacamole. Make a soup with the beans and whatever veggies (meat optional) you have. Serve refried beans with fried potatoes and hamburgers. Bake beans with plenty of onion chunks and sorghum. Or bake with tomato sauce, onions, and mustard. Or make a stew from a combination of several kinds of beans plus veggie chunks. Serve cooked, chilled beans with vinegar/oil dressing in salad or on greens. Make a soup of beans, potatoes, greens, and spices.

W> RUTH'S VEGETARIAN FEIJOADA bring to a boil and then simmer 2 hours: 2 c. black beans, 6 c. water, 2 large garlic cloves (crushed), I onion studded with 10 cloves, 2 chopped onions, and I chopped green pepper. Meanwhile, make sauce and refrigerate at least 2 hours: 6 chopped tomatoes, I bunch chopped scallions or leeks, A chopped onion, I crushed clove garlic, 3 T. lemon juice, and a dash Tabasco. Serve beans over cooked rice. Top with sauce.

<i> KIDNEY BEAN/HAMBURGER CHIU Saute a chopped onion in 2 T. butter until golden brown. Add 2 c. tomatoes, I lb. hamburger, 2 c. kidney beans that have been cooked up, I t. chili powder, and A t. salt. Simmer an hour, adding water as necessary.

<i> VEGAN KIDNEY BEAN CHILI Soak 2 c. dried kidney beans overnight The next day, pour off water. Simmer beans with 2 onions and 2 peppers (both chopped), 6 crushed garlic doves, I lb. skinned, chopped tomatoes, 2 c. tomato sauce, and 2-A c. water, depending on how soupy you like it Seasonings could be I T. each of chili powder and soy sauce (tamari). Optional ingredients are A lb. sliced mushrooms or I c. corn kernels (add those just a few minutes before serving). Simmer all for about 2 hours before serving.

W> GARDEN BEAN SOUP From Melanie in Hawaii: "I just cook I or 2 c. red or pink beans, and then add whatever vegetables we happen to have growing in our garden—tomatoes, okra, peas, green beans, onions, celery, corn, etc. Season the soup with garden herbs—garlic, sweet basil, orégano, etc. Simmer a few hours. Add some macaroni about A2 hour before you're ready to eat Serve with hot homemade bread and some fresh fruit salad!"

W> FIRE STATION BEANS From George C. White, who just retired after 44 years with a fire department in the Fort

Worth, TX, area: "This is a bean pot and not a chili. Some version is cooked in almost all the fire stations in Texas. The pinto beans are soaked overnight and then cooked slowly all day or until soft. Add bacon fat salt pork, ham hock, backbone, knuckles, pig tails, or ears for seasoning—or ground beef Brown meat with chopped onions, chopped or ground garlic, chopped celery, and chopped bell pepper. Other optional ingredients are brown sugar or molasses, mustard, oregano, mace, nutmeg, a few pods of whole chili, some cooked tomatoes, salt and/or pepper. After adding meat and flavorings, simmer further until done. Serve with corn bread and fresh onions."

About Flatulence: Time to get earthy. As the old poem says, "Beans, beans, the musical fruit—the more you eat, the more you toot! Beans, beans, they're good for your heart, but the more you eat, the more you fart!" Yes indeed, the problem to be faced up to with eating dried beans is their gas-manufacturing tendency.

My mother-in-law really pushes beans and is always telling me how much protein they contain. Her son has firm control of his system and can deposit his total flatulence (gas) in the bathroom alone and behind the closed door in a maximum of 3 daily visits. I apparently come from a totally different—uncontrolled—genetic line. My mother had this problem and so do I. When it hits me, that's it. I've been standing in church singing a hymn and wanting to die with shame because everybody around me was wondering who had done the terrible thing, and I was afraid they'd figure it out just from the look on my face. At least the hymn covered the sound effects, but what about the many other times I make sounds which, to my embarrassed ears, resemble the backfire of our 1-ton truck going down the mountainside to town with the muffler off?

And beans have a cumulative effect. One unfortunate week I served chili for supper. The next day Mike happened to lunch where they served him chili again. That evening I was sick in bed and asked my 8-year-old daughter, Dolly, to feed everybody something. It turned out she decided the best answer was to open another jar of chili. In the middle of the night Mike announced there was a distinct possibility he was going to die. He didn't, but now we are careful about spacing our bean meals. (That was the week when Mike was in a conference room with a group of executive types, and even he was overcome by pressure to the point that the whole proceedings stopped while people wondered where it all was coming from.)

Since the first issue of this book came out, I've received in the mail a lot of helpful advice about how to keep beans from causing gas. J.O. Pettit, the salt-rising bread expert, told me to keep a cruet of vinegar on the table and add a pour of vinegar to each serving of beans. Janet Kieffer wrote me that her Mexican cooking teacher said 1 t. olive oil in a batch of beans helps take out the gas. Mrs. George Baker of Floresville, TX, wrote me to advise adding A t. ginger to 1 lb. beans in cooking them.

Seventh edition. Now I have still more advice. Julia Reynolds from Galvin, WA, says if I blanch and freeze the dried beans as I would string beans, that will help the gas problems. Abbie Pyne from Twin Falls, ID, says the best way to cook beans to prevent gas is to add 1 T. castor oil for every 1 c. dry beans when you put them on to cook. "When the castor oil is cooked, it has no laxative effect and cuts the gas to almost none." My friend Lenna says for fewer explosions, don't soak them overnight. Angie says discarding the soaking water and cooking in fresh water helps. The scientists say if you eat beans regularly and increase your bean consumption gradually, your body will become accustomed to them and the tooting will be diminished. Lois Rumrill from Forks of Salmon, CA, says, "I always cook my dry beans upside down. That way they don't make you pass gas, they just make you hiccup!"

Why Flatulence? Ninth edition. It's because beans contain certain natural sugars called oligosaccharides in generous amounts, and when oligosaccharides encounter certain of the natural bacteria that make their home in everybody's digestive tract (normally unknown and unnoticed), gas gets manufactured. You can't change the bean. You can't change the microbe. You can't change the human be'in. That's just how it is. Best we should be kind to one another about it. But you can choose a low-flatulence legume! Flatulence from Various Legumes. This must have been an interesting scientific project! Somebody actually measured, in a variety of subjects, the amount of flatulence emitted over a 3-hour period after a test meal of dried beans, starting from 4 hours after eating the beans. On a scale of 1 to 12, with 12 being the most gas-producing, the no-bean meal—peanuts and Fordhook limas—rated a 1. Green peas came in at 2.6, soybeans at 3.8, Ventura limas at 4.6, dried peas at 5.3, and mungs at 5.5. Then there was a sudden big jump to the big leagues of gas, with pinto beans at 10.6 and kidneys and California small whites at 11.4.

Continue reading here: Other Phaseolus Beans Alphabetical List

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