Dried Beans from the Vegetable Garden
Various kinds of beans form an important source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Yet many of the dried beans available at grocery stores are of uncertain origin, often not organically grown and could be contaminated with GMO crops.
So the way to be really sure that your beans are truly organic and GMO-free is to grow them in your own vegetable garden. That way you and your family will be eating the best possible sources of protein for vegetarians you can find.
Growing Beans for a Dry Harvest
Choose a warm sunny part of the vegetable garden. Beans don’t need compost or fertilizer, but the method of using fresh garden waste described in our recent article on growing peas can be used.
Sow the seeds 3 inches apart in rows as soon as the date of the last average frost has passed for your area. Two staggered rows of vegetable seeds will increase the yield a little. The space between the rows depends on the height of the particular varieties you are growing. Allow two-thirds of that height between the rows. Taller varieties may need poles or strings to keep the beans off the ground.
Keep your beans weeded, watered and mulched. Depending on the variety and where you live, you will have a harvest in 90 to 150 days. The dry beans are ready when the pods are dry and the beans barely show a mark when you bite into them.
You can shell the pods individually, but a good way to deal with a larger harvest is to use an old pillowcase. Put the pods in the case and walk all over it (your children will love to help with this one!). Once the pods are well crushed you can remove the chaff (pieces of pod) by pouring the contents of the bag back and forth between two buckets while standing in the garden on a breezy day. The chaff will quickly blow away.
If you have seen any mold on the pods it is a good idea to rinse the beans in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide which you have heated to 1400. Let the beans dry thoroughly in the sun or indoors before storing. To avoid weevils, once the beans are thoroughly dry, freeze them overnight before storing.
Choosing Vegetable Seeds for Dried Beans
Navy beans are a standard and versatile bean used for many dishes. ‘White Emergo’ is a classic variety of runner bean that can also be eaten green. It will need poles, but grown at the back of the garden it will yield a heavy crop for the space it occupies.
Lima beans, like the heirloom ‘Fordhook 242’, can be eaten as a fresh, podded beans or left to dry and store.
If you don’t want to have to support your bean plants, choose ‘Dwart Horticulture Taylor’ vegetable seeds for a crop of delicious red-splashed dry beans.
Protein for Vegetarians – Eat Your Beans!
This classic Italian method of cooking beans can be varied by adding other vegetables from your vegetable garden.
Soak ½ lb of dry beans overnight in the fridge. Rinse and cook in salted water until tender. Fry onions and plenty of garlic in some olive oil. Add the drained beans, some sliced potatoes from the garden, half a cup of white wine and enough vegetable stock to just cover. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked and the sauce is creamy. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese for the highest utilization of the beans’ protein.