This year’s bean harvest is more exciting than usual, because I forgot what kind of beans I planted where. Was this cluster of vines the vaquero beans that look like tiny holstein cows? Scarlet runner beans? Christmas limas?
The first set of vines have turned out to be Sunset runner beans. Bright pink and purple when fresh, they fade to lavender and black as they dry. (Both are tasty, dried ones just take longer to cook.)
Also, they’re huge. That beanpod is about ten inches long.
I’m told that when the beans are little, you can eat the whole thing, pod and all. At this size, though, the pods are inedible, so after harvesting all the mature pods, we sat around the table, shelling our beans.
I started four year-old Fischer shelling the pods that had dried on the vine, since they were a little easier to get open than the fresh ones. This led to an argument over who was getting more pink beans, so we did a science investigation to see which color beans came from which kind of pods.
Or, rather, Everett and I did a science investigation while Fischer reached across the table and moved all the pink beans into his own pile. Everett, displaying a newfound sense of noblesse oblige, kept quiet and let Fischer get away with it.
Bean Science Investigation Questions:
- What color beans are in the fresh green pods?
- What color beans are in the dry brown pods?
- If you let the pink beans stay on the plant longer before you pick them, do you think they would change color?
- What color would they turn?
- How many beans do you think we got?
- Maybe let’s just count each bean once, okay?
- It’s alright if your brother has more, they’re all going into the same pot.
- Okay, look, here’s more beans! A whole bag of beans! You can count these ones too!
- What’s that lady doing with her tongue? Um… I think she’s saying how yummy the beans are. (Steve Sando or anyone else from Rancho Gordo, you’re welcome to chime in here.)
We never did get an accurate count of the beans — more than a dozen, less than a pot. In the interest of having them ready to taste before it was time for the kids to go home, I just simmered the beans with some garlic, parsley, celery seeds, and a bay leaf until they were tender, then tossed them with some salt and olive oil. Not nearly as good as a long slow simmer with browned aromatics and a ham bone, but they were still pretty tasty.
Got a favorite recipe for beans? Please share it in the comments!