by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow, when the snails don't have a field day and Runner Beans are some of the most rewarding. Once the beans are on the way, as in Runner Beans, slugs and snails are not too much to worry about anymore then.

I must say that I love Runner Beans and many people do but so many have no idea that they can, in actual fact, east the beans inside without the green shell around them.

All too many folks, even seasoned vegetable gardeners, will tear down their Runner Beans – bar those they may wish to keep for seeds – as soon as they get stringy. But there is no need to do so. You can go on eating them, only as beans per se, and not as a green vegetable in their skins.

Runner Beans are, in fact, and most people, in our part of the world and in the USA, do not seem to, as I said, realize that, Lima beans and they can be dried too and eaten by soaking them prior to cooking.

I have also noticed that people do not seems to be aware – at least not in Britain often – that Broad Beans are, in fact, Fava Beans, and that they can also be dried and used that way. Fava Beans are a common ingredient in Mid-Eastern cooking and whenever the mention comes to Fava Beans let us remember what they are, namely Broad Beans in our jargon.

Theoretically all beans can be harvested and dried and used in that old-fashioned way to make tasty and wholesome meals in the lean times of winter when vegetables are few and far between.

Many of the Native Americans' diets was made up predominately of the “three sisters”, beans, squash and corn, and the Mexican diet is rather full of beans and it makes for good and healthy food.

So, let's not waste our Runners when they get a bit stringy; just keep right on eating by shelling them out of the green shell and later, come autumn, dry as many as possible for beans in winter. The same can be done with Broad Beans, aka Fava, and others.

© 2011