Dry bean ideas; and a good dual-purpose bean

plantinellen(5)February 14, 2009

Two questions:

With limited space for dry beans, and an adventurous spirit...what are some really tasty, unusal heirloom dry bean varieties I might try? I live in "bean country" in Michigan, so I'm not interested in navy, great northern or other more common varieties -- I can get those anywhere from local growers. What are some under-discovered legumous "garden gems" I might try?

Also: I know that some green beans like Black Valentine and Kentucky Wonder can also yield edible dry beans...and that some dry beans, like adzukis and black beans, can be used for snap beans when picked at a young stage. What are other gardeners' experiences with dual-use beans? Any recommendations? I'm growing a patch of "Dwarf Bees" bush-habit scarlet runner beans, which I understand can be left to mature to dry stage, but I'm more interested in their snap bean and decorative value.

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Turkey Craw - pole habie, quadruple use as snaps, dry, shelly, and leatherbritches

Goose - excellent pole shelly and decent dry bean

Blue Marbutt - an excellent pole snap bean.

Hutterite Soup - a good bush dry soup bean

Jacob's Cattle - a really good bush dry bean

There are literally tons of others that are worth growing so don't limit yourself to these. Check out:


lots of links

Baker Creek


    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 8:50PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I'll second Fusion's recommendation for "Goose"; I have often posted about the closely related "Ma Williams", which I obtained from SSE. Highly productive, outstanding quality as a shelly, but just OK as a snap.

I tried a few "Blue Marbut" raw, but never tried them cooked as snaps. It was very productive as a black-seeded dry bean, I made some good refried beans from them.

As a rule, I tend to use dual-purpose beans as shellies, rather than dry. Most shellies are usable for snaps as well, although varieties bred for snaps will generally outperform them. The best dual-purpose varieties I've tried (including the two above) are heirlooms:

- "Brita's Foot Long" (pole) closely resembles the white-seeded version of Kentucky Wonder, but with more flavorful seeds. They are roughly the size of Great Northern. The pods are tasty as snaps, but should be picked very young, before strings develop.

- "Bert Goodwin" (half-runner) has long, straight pods that have great flavor as a snap. If allowed to ripen, they will form large, deep red seeds that are tasty also. Probably the best multi-purpose bean I've tried.

- "PI 507984" (bush) is an otherwise unnamed bean from the USDA, collected in Hungary. The young pods are OK as snaps, but its best use is as a shelly. The beans are borne in great numbers on very vigorous bushes, and are easily shelled. They are deep red w/white spots, and extremely large in shell stage, close to 1" long. The flavor is very rich, and the shellies keep much of their color when cooked. The red turns to nearly black when dried.

To the best of my knowledge, the last three are unavailable commercially; Salt Spring Seeds (Canada) carries "Brita's", but will not ship to the U.S. If you are interested in trying any of them, I'd be happy to send you some seed, just contact me through my member page if interested.

Oh, and lest I forget... the best dry bean I have grown is "Soissons Vert", a pole "flageolet" variety with light green seeds roughly the size of Great Northern. It is not usable as a snap, but the shelly is gourmet quality, and it makes a great dry bean.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 6:41PM
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