Fresh Shell Beans


It is less usual in the prairies to grow fresh shell beans, or to let them dry for storage.  We most often grow runner and snap beans for fresh eating.  Beans most commonly used for shelling are varieties that fill out nicely, and form a full and nutritious bean.  Common varieties are navy, cannelloni, barroloti, and kidney.

I grew a variety of Pole Bean this year called Rattlesnake.  They produce long green pods with purple streaks.  I grew them on tripods amongst my fingerling potatoes and they added interest to an otherwise dull planting bed.

I left these grow beyond what would be usual for snap beans.  They could have been picked earlier and eaten as a green bean, but I thought they might make nice shell beans because of their purple design.  I left them on their vine until the pod started to dry and the leaves were turning brown, and then picked them and tucked them away in a paper bag for a few days.


I had plans to do something more Mediterranean with them.  I would likely have simmered them in water and aromatics, and finished them them with a generous amount of olive oil and herbs to be eaten with crusty bread.

However, the day warranted a pot of chili and biscuits.  We were renting a cottage  in the woods and a cool rainy day led us to want fully flavoured hardy food.

I used ground chicken, fresh tomatoes, chilli powder, cumin and coriander, and good fresh corn.  After the meat was browned, I added an onion and garlic, and the spices.  Then the tomatoes were tossed in followed by the beans and corn.   The pot was simmered until the beans were tender (about 45 minutes).  The Chilli was finished with a squeeze of lime and roughly chopped cilantro.


We served this with a batch of biscuits filled with white cheddar and corn.   Had we had some handy I would have added cornmeal.  We use what is basically a scone recipe and modified it by adding fresh corn and cheese.  Cilantro and fresh chilli would have been a good addition.

A familiar dish recreated to highlight what is in our garden right now.


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