Beans – Gardening Tips from the Culinary View

Beans – Gardening Tips from the Culinary View

as recommended by Michael Vidrine

Did you know…

Beans  are native to Mesoamerica and are now cultivated around the world, Beans are a great source of vegetable protein, fiber, and nutrients. Fresh beans are tender and should be eaten right away for the best flavor.  Dried beans can be stored for years.

Types of Beans

Fresh beans are grown to be eaten when young and tender.  There are many varieties with pod shapes that are rounded, flat and very thin with colors of yellow, green, and purple.  There are dozens of beans grown for drying including kidney, navy, Anasazi, black, northern, pinto, cannellini and pinto.  Some bean varieties are climbers, AKA “pole beans” and are grown on supports; others are shorter “bush” varieties.

When to Plant

Beans are a warm season annual planted in the spring through late summer.  Beans to be eaten fresh struggle in the hottest part of the summer and are best grown in spring and fall.

Pick fresh beans when the pods are tender, and the seeds are still very small.  Beans grow very quickly and may need harvesting every couple of days.  If the seeds get large, the pods may become tough, but the still tender seeds can be eaten as fresh shell beans. Fresh beans should be kept refrigerated and consumed within a few days of harvest.  For longer term storage they can be frozen, canned or picked. 

Dry beans are usually left on the plants until the pods are quite dry and the plants have begun to wither.  The entire plant can be pulled up for convenient processing.  Pods are then stripped from the plant and the beans separated from the hulls.  Storage beans need to be completely dry and may need additional air drying after harvesting.  Dry beans should be stored in airtight containers to reduce oxidation and maintain quality.  Oxygen absorber packets will also help extend storage life.   To eliminate the possibility of weevil damage it is advisable to freeze homegrown dried beans for a couple of weeks or they can be stored in the freezer for up to five years.

Michael Vidrine

Brazos Valley Gardener, Orchardist, Apiarist and Instructor

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