Scarlet Runner beans?

Kay_OntApril 4, 2002

New to the edibles, and not a great deal knowledgeable about the others for that matter. Got an awful lot to learn. I must say that I'd be lost without the wonderful people here on all of the forums.

Looking for something to conceal an ugly fence, I discovered the Scarlet Runner. Further study has revealed that the beans are a wonderful source of nutrition. And so I thought, an added bonus. But, I haven't a clue what to do with the beans. How do I cook them, can they be used in a tossed salad uncooked, and if dryed, is there anything that I can do with them and how would I cook them-how would I dry them?

Thanks, Kay

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gardencat(z7 SW OR)

I cook them just like green beans. My DH can never tell the difference. ;)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2002 at 12:14PM
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cccatcrazy(Z4 NY Catskills)

Now you are allowing me to toot my favorite horn.

Almost 20 years ago, a good friend, now passed, introduced me to what has become my absolute favorite bean -- scarlet runner beans. The beans can be eaten at any stage: at 4-5" as tender baby green beans; at 7-8", (but before the beans really develop) they can be cut on the diagonal and eaten as italian green beans or frenched and steamed until tender. When the beans are still light pink, they can be eaten like limas (shelled away from the pods which start to get to fibrous to eat).

As far as using them uncooked, why not! I don't care for them raw (they have a rough skin) but my grandchildren have no compunctions about pinching out the tender young beans and munching them right there in the garden!

You have to keep the vines well picked if you want them to continue to flower and produce. At the end of the summer, the beans will feverishly push to ripen some of the pods. Let it happen, in order to have enough seed for next year. You can pick large swelled pods and dry them indoors if you like, or allow them to dry on the vines, if they are protected from the first frosts. Either way, let them dry IN THE PODS until they rattle.

The dried beans are perfectly edible, tasting much like butter beans, but they are not particularly attractive - their interesting color pales to gray, the flesh of the bean is also gray.

They freeze well, whole, frenched or sliced, and maintain their nutty garden-fresh flavor, which is very nice in the middle of February! Enjoy!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2002 at 8:56AM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

I'm with cccatcrazy. Absolutely my favorite bean. I like them raw, but they do have to be small-I don't like the fuzz as they get older. They're great for stirfry, braised in chicken both. Wonderful!!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2002 at 11:41AM
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rumplefrogskin(z3/4A Wisc.)

Mine rarely get to the pod stage...I'm eating the blossoms off the vines in the garden as a snack. Very bean-y in flavour. The flowers are also attractive on green salads.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2002 at 5:33AM
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Mine aren't producing any beans! They are blooming beautifully, then the blossoms fade and fall off leaving nothing. What could be wrong?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2002 at 10:50AM
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not enough bees around to polinate? or has the weather been too hot there in FL? or maybe they are not in enough sunshine? are you watering sufficiently?? all those things could effect the bean production. it has happened to me. if you aren't getting any beans, at least eat the flowers!
Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 12:01PM
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About three days ago, beans suddenly started to appear. I have no idea why!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 2:25PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Scarlett Runner Beans I had last Summer bloomed all summer long, great flowers, so pretty. But no pods appeared until the weather started to get alittle cooler near autumn.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2003 at 3:29PM
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They don't set many pods in hot weather. I always get a lot of beans if we have a cool summer, and in the fall. Does anyone know if they're perennial in places with mild winters, or are mine just re-seeding themselves?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2003 at 9:54PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Runner beans are perennial in the wild and in places with very mild Winters. Last year I found some of the roots when turning over the soil in the Spring which had survived the Winter. They looked a bit like skinny dahlia tubers. As an experiment I replanted them and got a few beans but not as many as from my seed sown plants. They like our Summers. Plenty of rain and not too hot. 2 dozen plants planted in three batches of four at three week intervals feed a family of four as many beans as we want. But we only eat them green. If you want dried beans to store I suppose you would need to grow more. My favourite variety is Painted Lady which has a bicoloured red and pink flower. But the pods are a bit bent so if you want perfect giant straight pods choose something else.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2003 at 5:24PM
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Another great thing about the Scarlet Runner Bean....hummingbirds love them, too!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 11:57PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Both Hummingbirds and Bumble bees flock to them.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2003 at 3:23PM
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I pick my scarlet runner beans when they are 5 - 6 inches long. I use a cutter to cut them French style (long slender cuts). A half teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of baking soda (to keep them bright green), and boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes. Drain and mix with two strips of well cooked bacon pieces. Or try with almond slices. DELICIOUS!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2003 at 12:40PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

dickdurkin - I think you'll find that although the soda keeps your beans green it also destroys vitamins. And I know it's a matter of taste, but I don't think they need salt - or at least not that much. They steam easily.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2003 at 2:11PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

These are still my favorite bean to grow for the lovely flowers.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2005 at 12:25PM
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new2gardenfl(Z9 CentralFL)

I saw that there is a apricot runner bean also. Has anyone tried these?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2005 at 5:03AM
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These are the only pole beans I grow. The flowers are not only edible & delightful in salads, but attractive to bees & hummingbirds. The beans are WONDERFUL - pick them young, slice & cook like you would any other Italian Romano-type bean. They are delicious, with a wonderful "beany" flavor.

Although I've never allowed enough to mature, I also understand that you can use them as cooked fresh shell beans. Frankly, I love them so much as snap beans, I've never been able to experiment with them this way.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2005 at 7:03PM
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My boyfriend observed me eating 3 or 4 raw scarlet runner beans the other day and said my chest and face turned bright red. I didn't feel bad, but I did search the internet and found out that the beans- (and almost all green beans, but especially red kidney beans) - contain a toxin called phytohemagglutinin which can screw up your red blood cells and make you nauseous. The toxin is broken down by cooking.

Here is a link that might be useful: bean toxin info - wikipedia

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 1:22PM
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I'll second the last post. My daughter and I spent last Saturday night in the emergency ward of our local hospital after eating raw scarlet runner beans. The symptoms were exactly as described in the web link (luckily without the diarrhea) with the onset of vomiting quite dramatic and painful. My poor son suffered alone at home while we were providing entertainment at the ER and my wife driving around until 3 AM. I, and the doctor, initially thought at first we had eaten raw fava beans, which with some people, are very poisonous. The raw green beans were very tasty by the way but I would definitely cook them well next time (I seriously doubt the rest of the family will up for another dose).

    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 12:39PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

For the previous two posters, were the immature bean _pods_ eaten raw, or the enlarged seeds? I have observed no ill effects from eating the young pods, which are nearly identical to snap beans. They are, in fact, exceedingly sweet & delicious when very small, before the pods begin to roughen. Mature bean seeds, whether snaps, limas, or runners, should not be eaten raw... they are all toxic to some degree, the only difference being the toxins & degree of toxicity.

I can't say that I have enjoyed the mature seeds, although I have eaten them as green-shelled beans... I much prefer limas & large-seeded P. vulgaris for that purpose. The skins were too tough for my liking, and they had a "gamey" flavor... but served with venison & a strong-flavored green, they would be a perfect companion.

Since there has been only a passing reference to non-scarlet flowered runner beans, I thought that I would post a few varieties. There are many white-flowered (and white-seeded) varieties, including "Emergo", "Pole Cannellini", and "Jack & the Beanstalk". "Tucomares Chocolate" has salmon pink flowers, and brown seeds. "Apricot" (pink) & "Painted Lady" (red & white) were mentioned above.

In the warmer climates, or where summers are hot (such as the Midwest) it can be difficult to get pods. In my Wisconsin location, blossoms will drop - regardless of pollination - until day temps drop into the 70's. As previously mentioned, they prefer cooler temps, such as are commonly found in Britain - temps where P. vulgaris snaps languish. In the Maritime climates (particularly the Pacific Northwest) they would prosper, and be worth growing as green beans.

A GW member from Washington recently sent me seeds for an heirloom variety he had originally obtained through the local Korean community. It was grown last summer by myself & several others, and seems able to set pods under warmer conditions than most runner beans... it may soon be commercialized by Sand Hill Preservation as "Insuk's Wang Kong". I have posted some photos (of both the flowers & dry beans) in the following thread.

Here is a link that might be useful: Insuk's Wang Kong

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 5:10PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I've eaten pounds of the raw pods (with very immature beans inside) with no ill effects what so ever, uncooked whole beans are another matter, best to stick with peas for that sort of thing.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2007 at 4:50PM
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does anyone have any Scarlet Runner Bean plants to exchange. My attempt to grow a pack kind of failed! I have one plant growing!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 5:48PM
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darn. I found this topic because my scarlet runner beans have loads of pretty flowers but no beans. Guess it is too hot in NJ, conisdering its been in the 90's not the 70s! Wish I had known this before I grew them.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2008 at 2:45PM
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Aubade, some have reported that they finally get a crop after the weather cools in the fall. Runner beans seem to love it here in the Seattle area.

Here is an interesting study about the toxins in dried beans:

The effect of temperature in destroying the hemagglutinin (lectin) activity in red kidney beans has been determined. Heating presoaked beans at 100°C for 15 min or at 80°C for 2 hr, or pressure cooking (15 psi) for 45 min without presoaking, decreased the hemagglutinin activity to below detectable levels. At 65°C, no significant decrease was observed even after 12 hr heat treatment. Commercially canned beans have lectin levels similar to beans pressure cooked for 30 min.

Other studies suggest that a slow cooker may not destroy the toxins.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 11:07AM
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Well, sure enough they started producing beans in August (which was quite cool this year). Now in Sept. I've got a handful to cook.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2008 at 10:06AM
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I grew a mess of scarlet runner beans this year in part to save the seeds for craft use - but my beans aren't drying with that pretty purple color more of a faded pink with more "black center and speckle than any I've seen - I gave some of the same original seed to a friend and his are drying purple.

I am guessing this has to do with the PH of the soil - anyone have any ideas of what I might had to get "prettier" beans?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2008 at 10:22AM
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I received very large (10") pods from a friend of a friend in Western Upstate NY (Rochester area). I let the pods dry, and planted the seeds in patio containers mainly for the decorative purposes. The vines grow over small trellises and hedges, in partial shade. It has been two years now (in other words, my current seeds are three times removed from the originals). Each year, I let the pods mature and save the seeds, but each year the pods and seeds are smaller. What is happening here? (Incidentally, I cooked up quite a number of the original beans, shelled, in soup, and really liked them).

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 9:50AM
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drasaid(zone 8)

However, this particular English Bull Terrier ate a tennis ball that had to be surgically removed, so perhaps he is no judge of edibility.
If you live in a hot climate, try yard long beans (aka asparagus beans.) They love heat.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 3:46PM
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This is my first year growing Scarlet Runner beans. I planted 10 of them in 16oz cups, watered them well, then placed them (intermittently) on a heating pad. All of them were up and growing in six days. I was amazed to see that the cotyledons did drop off the vine as I was told to expect as the vine emerged (most right at the surface of the soil--some half way out of the ground). No other bean that I've ever grown before emerged without its cotyledons attached. This is all normal stuff, I'm sure, and not why I'm writing. What is really interesting to me is that one cup now has three (3) vines growing in it. The first one is the largest and has two true leaves and a vining tip. The other two have emerged bearing only a single true leaf (as opposed to the normal double). As anyone who has grown this bean before would know, it would be impossible to plant three seeds and think you only planted one. Some of the seeds are as big as a small thumb! I promise I only planted one seed in each cup, but the one cup has three seedlings in it (all emerging from between the left-behind cotyledons). I plan to take some digital pictures later today and would be glad to forward them to anyone who is interested. Has anyone had a similar experience? Is this normal? Common?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 2:20PM
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If you think these things germinate viciously, wait until you see them grow. I grew them up strings from my garden to my gutters 20 FEET in the air one summer -- be sure to get strong string. Their only disadvange is that they seem to need more heat than regular pole beans to set beans. You get pretty flowers early enough, but you'll have to wait until later in the summer for beans, but then there will be plenty of them.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 8:06AM
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After reading so much about Scarlet Runner Beans, I am tempted to try them in my backyard. I have just started my backyard a week ago . i live in Phoenix arizona and the temperature is above 100 f. Does anyone know if I can start the plant now or do I have to wait for the temperatures to cool to start the plants. I have from 6 hours to 12 hours Sun area in my backyard. How much sun is good for the scarlet runner?


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 5:56PM
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I've never grown runner beans in 100 degree temperatures, but mine have thrived well into the 90's. I think these things love the heat and sun, though I've had them perform in the shade, in poor soil, etc. They'll climb 15'-20' if you give them a chance! Give it a try, you've got nothing to lose but a packet of seeds.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 6:49PM
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Hi Rob_Thompson,

I am definitely going to start the beans this week and I think I will plant it near my west wall as then it will have afternoon shade and 6 hours of sun. Do u know what temperature it needs to set pods and flower? Coz if it is 80-90f temperature then maybe I will wait till it is August. We have 90's towards the end of september. Any particular nursery barnd for scarlet runner bean? Like Burpee or Ferry moose? Coz I really want this plant to be able to make it. I am hooked on it after reading so much about its beauty.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 12:22PM
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Padma - Wait until September and they'll grow until frost kills the tops AND then come back in the spring from the roots. They reportedly live 5-7 years.

Slow down with the gardening, go buy yourself the SUNSET Western Garden Book and start reading. Also try to find Mary Irish's book, "Gardening in the Desert Southwest". Those books will save you tons of money, work and disappointment.

Keep what you have already planted alive this summer and plan what you need to do this fall - you can grow lots of vegetables over the winter that can't live here in the summer.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 1:59PM
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Hi Lazygarden,

You know what... I think I will take ur advice and take it slow.

I just started my backyard with veggies and fruits. I am not sure if the tomatoes, eggplants, okra and hot chillis will survive the summer. So I wanted to plant something that would surely survive our climate.

Any suggestions about what to plant and when to plant would be greatly appreciated..please.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 5:10PM
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I like to hedge my bets and plant both scarlet runners and kentucky wonders. That way, during the hot spell, the kentucky wonders go wild with production, while the scarlet runners don't like the weather, and by the time it cools down, the scarlets are taking off just as the kentuckies stop producing. and if we have a really hot summer, I get armloads of kentucky wonders to make up for the paltry harvest of runners; if we have a cool rainy summer, kentucky wonders don't produce, but the scarlet runners go crazy.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 9:25PM
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Padma said, "I am not sure if the tomatoes, eggplants, okra and hot chillis will survive the summer"

The tomatoes will be stressed, but the rest of them just need water. Mulch them heavily to keep the soil evenly moist, and when the humid weather hits in July you will be up past your armpits in chilis, okra and eggplant

Look at the garden pics below: That's North Phoenix, planted in 100% unimproved desert dirt, them covered with a thick layer of shredded branches and compost. I have a drip system watering 3 times a day, and have increased the watering times as the temperature rises.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Gardening photos

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 8:53PM
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Hi Lazygardens,

Wow!!! Ur garden pics are just awesome.
My tomatoes are growing fast. they r nearly 10" in height, with flowers just starting to bloom.
My eggplant are the light green, round 3" diameter and 6" length variety (Indian), it is 6" high with flowers just starting to bloom.
My okra are having 2 true set of leaves... :)

My drip system for the veggies is not set as yet, so I hose water them twice a day for 10 minutes by hand. So is the watering enough? Please do let me know coz I really want my plants to grow healthy. This weekend we will be installing the soaker hose for the veggie plants. Is 10 minutes on the timer, set twice daily too much or too little? Any advice would be of great help.

I live in Ocotillo/Gilbert, Chandler.


    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 6:05PM
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Looks like this thread has been dormant for a while.. I just planted a packet of these seeds and they are growing like crazy... I have a 4 ft chain link fence that I was thinking about using these to give color and beautiful flowers... The sun is very prominent over the fence area of my back yard. I was wondering how to best harden them from the house to outdoors. Do they transfer easily?

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 10:51PM
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I have some seven year beans growing on the fence.
They have a lot of flowers but no beans.
I live in Australia, (Vic)
One person told me it might be to hot for them, someone else said, I need to use potash to promote fruit set.
I would be happy to hear from anyone who grows them.
The two or three I had last year where very nice.
My purple beans always do well, but would love to have some Scarlet Runners

    Bookmark   December 20, 2011 at 5:07AM
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I was wondering how much sun these guys need? I have an ugly front fence off my porch, but it faces east. So I get fabulous morning sun then that's about it after 11, it's off the side of the house. Is that enough sun for those beans to survive? I would love to have them planted there...thanks in advance for your help

    Bookmark   June 7, 2013 at 4:25PM
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