There’s an excitement and a lovely crunch as you run your finger down the side of a dried bean pod and split it open to collect the seed. If you haven’t done so already, now’s the time to collect your bean seeds to ensure a crop for next summer and potentially also meals over this winter. Some dried beans, like Scarlet Runner beans, are delicious cooked up in soups, dips, stews and a range of other recipes. My favourite recipe is Creamy Creole Beans (recipe below).
The great thing about Scarlet Runner beans is that they come back each year, supposedly for up to seven years, which means you don’t need to save a lot of seed for replanting and you can actually use some of the seeds for cooking.
This week we picked this whopper! Our longest Scarlet Runner bean pod this season was 35cm long and had 7 beans in it.
The other climbing beans we’ve been growing at Blackheath Community Farm are Purple Kings and Blue Lakes.
From left: Scarlet Runner Beans, Purple King and Blue Lake
Beans are a fabulous vegetarian protein source and you can grow as many different varieties as you like because they don’t cross-pollinate. Over summer they just keep on giving!
Harumi picking Scarlet Runner Beans at the Farm over summer
We’ve got a great crop of locally acclimatised Scarlet Runner bean seeds again so we’ll be making them available for the community before spring. If you’d like to know more about seedsaving we also have two seedsaving books available and are happy to deliver them for free in Blackheath. You can buy them here
Creamy Creole Red Beans
500g red kidney or scarlet runner beans
2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 tbsp vinegar
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsps powdered thyme and chilli
1/8 tsps powdered allspice, cloves and cayenne pepper
¼ tsp black pepper
salt to taste
Place 3 litres of cold water into a pot and set on low heat.
Clean the beans, rinsing well and add to the pot. Chop the onions, bell peppers, celery and garlic and add to the pot. Add the tomato paste and seasonings.
Allow the mixture to simmer, gently stirring periodically. The secret is in long slow cooking. As the beans begin to soften, mash some of them against the side of the pot. A creamy thick sauce will be the result. When the beans are cooked serve over a bed of rice, or with polenta.