Beans may not always have the best reputation, but they really are something to honor. They are little fighters -- producing pod after pod of nutritious beans from now until the fall. Think of how proud you would be to serve a bean salad made entirely from beans you harvested! And when you have had enough of beans -- because every morning you will have more pods ready to pick -- then you can shell the pods and lay the beans on a tray to dry in the sun. Once dry, pour them into some jars.
Come winter your pantry will be fully stocked and ready for all your winter comfort foods. You may not be craving a bubbling hot cassoulet now, but when you do, you'll be prepared.
How to Grow Your Own Beans
Beans are wonderful because just one plant can produce so many pods. This means if you live in an apartment, you can grow your beans on your porch, or by a window. Direct plant them. Beans don't like to be transplanted, so where you plant them it where they shall stay. Sow the seeds this week and in about 75 days you will have bean plants with pods beginning to appear in plenty. Let pods dry on the plant -- they should feel papery and come off the branch easily. Shell them and lay the beans on a tray in the sun to dry out. Once dry, after a day in the sun, jar them.
It's time to grow some beans!
Click here for more information about beans
Click here for more information about how to plant them.
How to Cook Your Own Beans
The night before you are planning to eat your beans, put 1 part beans to 5 parts cold water in a large container. One cup of dried beans yields about 3 cups cooked. NEVER add salt at this time; Salt does something funny to beans and stops them from absorbing water ( it's an osmosis thing). Leave your beans overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse your beans. Add beans to a pot with water (same ratio of as before). Once the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Ok, *now* you can add your flavours ( bay leaf, salt, peppercorns, carrots, celery, or whatever you feel like). Continue simmering for about another 40 minutes. When the beans are tender, they are ready. Drain but don't rinse. Even if you are making a cold bean dish, add the dressing when the beans are still warm. They will soak up the dressing and be super delicious. If you need them to cook down fast, lay them on a cling film-lined baking tray.
Other Benefits of Growing Your Own Beans:
- Canned beans are cheap, but not as cheap as dried beans!
- Canned beans have tons of salt
- Canned beans require cans, therby creating more waste
- Canned beans are heavy, and so transporting them uses a large amount of pollution
...and most importantly:
- You get to be close to your food: See it grow and appreciate it that much more
Photo of Trionfo Violetto beans by S. Irene Virbila