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Monday, October 3, 2022

How to Harvest and Process Dried beans

Jim and Cindy with Kidney beans.
It's possible to grow enough beans to dry and store for one's winter use. It helps to grow food in the Sharing Gardens model though, so you have plenty of help with the processing. We've been able to grow enough Scarlet Runner beans and Kidney beans over the last several years (since 2019) to supply all the beans that the two of us need for a year (Llyn and Chris) and have enough to share with the people who help with the gardens.

Here's the process we use for processing Scarlet Runner Beans:

To grow beans for winter storage or to save seed for future plantings they should be left on the vines to ripen as long as possible. Don't pick the pods until they are evenly tan and dry. If picked too green, beans won't be viable as seeds and they won't store well.  They won't ripen more after  you pick them and so pick only the ripest, fullest bean-pods. Bean pods should be brown and mostly dry to the touch.  
Once the frost hits, beans won't ripen any more. If there are any ripe pods left, we pull them off the vines and continue to dry them in baskets above our wood-stove till the shells are crisply dry. This prevents them from molding while in storage and, the drier the pod, the easier it is to shell. If there are any beans that you're not sure if they are fully ripe, use them first as they won't store as well as fully cured beans. Discard any beans that are obviously unripe.
Here, Adri and Grandpa Jim shell scarlet runner beans. If you are saving dry beans (for winter storage or seed) leave them on the vine till their shells turn tan and dry. This assures the beans are fully ripe and will make shelling easier.