Drying excess runner beans for winter

Hung up: The pods drying in the conservatory.
Hung up: The pods drying in the conservatory.

AFTER an ironic bad attack of wind, I’ve decided to let the runner bean pods mature and dry to keep over winter, for stews, casseroles and soups.

The full-grown pods turn yellowy-brown and dry, then you can remove and store the beans.

It’s been very damp this month and mould was starting to become a problem, so I’ve hung the pods up in the conservatory.

A word of caution – dried beans have a concentration of the toxin lectin phytohaemagglutinin that must be removed by cooking.

A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least 10 minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw ones.

And so strong wind doesn’t wreak havoc with you, flatulence caused by beans can be eased by cooking them with summer savory, anise, coriander or cumin!

To reconstitute, remove discoloured and shrivelled beans or debris.

Put them into a bowl approximately three times the size of the quantity you have to allow for expansion.

Cover with water and leave overnight. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda if you live in a hard water area like us – DO NOT add salt. When the beans have reconstituted, rinse them thoroughly a couple of times with clean water then cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer until they’re soft-ish – try them after about an hour. If they are still hard or gritty, give them another 30 minutes.

Dried beans will keep in an airtight jar for at least a year, and they will still germinate after a couple of years.