Processing shelling beans from my gardenHome >> Tools & Ingredients
For the last couple years I have been growing a large number of heirloom shelling beans from different species but mostly phaseolus vulgaris. This is a fun and rewarding garden project that is easy even for novice gardeners.
Every year I set up my bean patch in a different part of the garden. Here you can see a U shape with bamboos and a steel slug barrier. Lots of hay on the ground to keep weeds from germinating. This is very fun to plan, setup and watch grow provided you manage to keep birds and slugs off the seedlings. My ground is heavy clay so some years I had germination problems but now I pregerminate in little pots and add compost to help the roots grow before they do the heaving clay digging.
But if you grow enough you'll end up with a glut at the end of the year. This is exactly what I want since by saving these extra beans I can extend their window of eatability for several years. And they look pretty in my glass jars and you can use them in many different ways.
If you harvest beans fresh during the growing year (say in August) you can shell them one by one. But for those beans saved for winter time, there is one way used by most gardeners who have done it more than once.
At the end of the growing season you cut bush beans (those that grow on the ground) at ground level so that no earth comes when you pull them. Climbing or pole beans you just remove as best you can and place in some netting. Then just hang them in some cool and dry place until sort of December. As soon as the shells ar hard enough to break when you squeeze them, place a bundle of beans (one sort only!) in a trash or fabric bag. Put the bag on some soft ground and trample it, turning the bag from time to time, until all beans are loose from their shells.
Then put the whole thing in a box or basket and shake until the beans fall mostly to the bottom.
Remove the larger bits of shells from the top...
...then let the beans fall down in as small a stream as you manage to, and winnow with the box lid or let the wind do it...
Do this a couple time to remove all the dust and small bits...
... and presto! you get 99% clean beans.
Growing my own beans is the first time I understood why all indian legumes recipe begin by "Start by picking your beans". For this process fails to eliminate small stones whose weight is similar to the dried beans. You get them when you wash the beans...
... and finally soak them to rehydrate and speed up the cooking.