Dealing with the runner bean gluts as summer ends
Runner beans are synonymous with gluts and this is the time of year to get them. Once large pods set, the flowering ‘mechanism’ will stop – it’s done its job and set seed, so you have to keep picking.
Unfortunately, they’re easy to get sick of. Here are some ideas to keep the family happy.
Parmesan roast runner beans
Allow approximately 6oz (150g) of trimmed beans per person
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt or garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Good sprinkling paprika
4-6oz (100-150g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 220 degrees C, or Gas Mark 7. Line a baking tray with foil. Top and tail the beans, and then put them in a freezer bag.
Pour the oil into the bag, then add the salt, pepper and paprika. Shake the bag to make sure everything is mixed and covered with oil.
Leave the mixture to marinate for 15-20 minutes.
Pour evenly onto the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Shake the tray again to turn them, then give them another five minutes.
Remove from oven, grate cheese over the top and serve.
Drying runner beans
In a dry climate, you can let the bean pods mature and dry on the plants, but that’s rarely possible in the UK.
The full-grown pods should turn yellow and dry, but if the weather is damp mould becomes a problem.
Dig up the whole plant and hang it upside down in a warm place to dry.
I use the paired beans to hang over staging in the conservatory to dry.
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; under-cooked beans may be more toxic than raw ones.
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 – but DO NOT add any 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 and test once again.
Dried beans will keep in an airtight jar for at least a year and you can germinate a new crop from two-year-old beans.
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