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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beans - A Winter Harvest

Someone said to me the other day,
"I suppose you are not getting anything from the garden now"
Incredibly though that is absolutely false.
Still, in winter, there is produce to be had in the garden.
We are still harvesting Granny Smith apples, silverbeet, coloured chard, rocket, leafy greens, stinging nettle, carrots and protein packed beans of many kinds.
Beans are something that Australians don't seem to embrace very well.
We tend to grow beans for harvesting in summer when the pods are tender but rarely for dried beans in the winter.
Some varieties like Blue Lake and Scarlet Runner are well suited for blanching and freezing while others like bush Butter Beans are better used fresh in glut. They tend to be very flaccid after freezing.

Once I have had enough of beans and they are starting to over-mature on the vines, I let them go and leave them to fully develop and dry. A handful are saved for sowing next year and the rest are harvested for dry beans for casseroles and bean salads.
The variety is huge and they take up very little space and are easily stored.
The only preparation required is soaking for about 24 hours prior to a gentle simmer till they are tender. 
They are a good source of fibre and protein and other minerals and give nuttiness and meatiness to lovely tomato based casseroles or curries. 

A small stash may not look very much but they go such a long way and provide more meals than they look.
There is nothing more satisfying than sitting in the sun and breaking open a few dried pods for hearty winter meals. They really are the ultimate in low maintenance, low cost, high yield, high nutrition and a must for every child's backyard. Grow them simply up some bamboo sticks like these and create a living hideout or cubby house.
I'm a big fan of beans.


  1. The bean slicer brings back memories Tanya...when I was quite little, an elderly neighbour had one and sometimes she'd let me push some beans through it; I thought it quite magical :-)

  2. For whatever reason I love having dried beans in the pantry. Beans are so easy to grow and what could be easier for storing than putting them in a jar? So, that's a bean slicer? I was wondering what it was.

  3. Beans are a staple in my pantry, too. I love them!

  4. I have just tried drying some beans from my Poor Mans Beans this year, and it is so easy, I am going to plant more bean varieties for drying next year. I am surprised by how much is growing my garden at the moment, it seems to be full of asian greens, we are so lucky to have a climate without snow where we can grow so much all year instead of rushing around harvesting and preserving everything in Autumn just to have something to eat in Winter.

  5. i love beans too..i agree with you about beans in australia..we just don't tend to eat them as they do in some parts of europe (i guess i'm really thinking of greece where i lived for 6 years) where they are a staple and they're not just seen as a meat substitute..i haven't grown them to dry as yet but i've been meaning to..thanks for the inspiration..jane


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