Beans are vegetables that are high in protein, and are one of the least allergenic foods. They also contain niacin, thiamine, vitamin B6, folic acid, calcium, iron, phosphorous and potassium. So beans make a really healthy substantial meal. They can be eaten at the green stage as a meal in themselves, or as an addition to a meat meal. They can also be tossed into stir fries, cooked and eaten cold in vinaigrette or mayonnaise, or used in soups or casseroles. The possibilities are endless.
When you can’t keep up with the harvest, the bean seeds start to swell in their pods. Then you can eat these as fresh shelled out beans. Simmer them for a short while in water, strain, toss in butter or oil, and serve hot or cold added to salads, or in soup or pureed.
Again, when you can’t keep up with the picking, leave some whole plants to go to dry seed. Harvest these at the end of your frost-free season. Nothing is wasted ! These dry seeds will be your winter soup/casserole beans. These will need soaking overnight, or at least for a few hours, to rehydrate them. Drain off the water and put them in a pan with fresh water to cover. Boil hard for 10 minutes and then drain them. Give fresh water, bring them to the boil and simmer until soft. Then use them in all your imaginative ways. Eaten in their first winter after harvest, these beans are digestible. It is when they have been bought in shops and may be several years old that dry beans oxidise and then become poorly digestible. If you find them so, we recommend the herb Winter Savory (a perennial herb). Add a few chopped sprigs towards the end of the cooking time. The herb Summer Savory (an annual herb for summer use) also aids the digestion of beans.