Which varieties of pole beans would make the best "Leather Britches", I just read an article on how to string and dry them so thought I would give it a go.
Kentucky Wonder was the bean of choice in Applachian for many years for leather britches/leather breeches/ shuck beans.Any large meaty bean pod is suitable.
I've used Kentucky Wonder and Lazy Housewife for britches, I used some Romano beans, and I didn't like the flavor as much as the other ones.
Turkey Craw is the standard of excellence for leather britches.
Thanks guys, I have Kentucky Wonder and Lazy housewife but I don't have Turkey Craw, I'll have to do something about that :).
Annette, I have Turkey Craw seeds if you're interested.
I have never been clear if that term applies to totally dry, or late green shell-stage?
pn, the article I read said to pick the beans when they are tender and "snappy". I though it would be fun to try this old time way of perserving beans. I won't do a whole lot just enough for a meal or two. Maybe someone else can chime with how they have done it.
Nick, sending you an email :).
Here is a link that might be useful: Leather Britches
Annette, that article seems absurd to me. Drying snap green beans in hot humid weather (cause thats when one has lots of green beans)? Maybe I am way off but I don't think that author knew what leather britches are.
The Firefox series I remember talks about them, and I remember certainly they are a late fall thing, just not sure if they are strung up dead dry or with the pods and beans still just slightly green. I guess it must be a little soft otherwise one couldn't get a needle through them, right?
Well, maybe I am wrong, here is another piece implying that it is fresh snaps, though the author admits personal ignorance:
here is another article, more plausible, as it says when the beans in the pods are mature, which is past "snap" stage:
Unfortunately I am old enough to have personal experience. They are dried snap beans. Dried before the shelly stage. In bygone days they were snapped into approximately approximately two inch pieces. Using a needle and thread ( Clarks #8 was the choice in my area) they were strung through the center with each consecutive piece at right angles ( crosswise) and hung in a smoke house or attic to dry. Lost color and were not that good but as my father liked to say, " beats snowballs in winter". For those of you with dehydrators, you can make a much better finished product. We ate dehydrated green beans when I was in the Navy back when. lot better than than the homemade leather britches.
Well, I'm not that old, but I remember making dried beans when I was a kid. You picked fresh snap beans just like the beans you would can. We always strung them up using a roll of cotton cord. My mother told of picking the strings out of fertilizer bags and washing them to use for stringing beans to dry. We made dry beans in the middle of the summer, the hotter, the faster they would dry.
Well, I'll be darned. So I never knew what leather britches really were.
Here is my question: why? If you have an excess of beans, and it's not a great way to preserve, and it's a lot of effort, why not just let them mature and dry for shell beans? Easier, better nutrition.
Well for me, curiosity is the reason I want to try them. I want to see for myself how these turn out, cooking with a ham hock and onions sounds kind of good.
I don't expect them to taste as good as fresh but I still want to try them. I have a dehydrator and may do a few in it for comparison but I also want to see how they turn out without using any of the modern conveniences.
I ate shellies for the first time last year, liked them a lot but snaps are still my favorite way of eating beans, as far as dried beans(seed) go I don't have the room to grow enough to be of any use. Besides's it's always good to know different ways of doing things, you never know when you might need the 'know how'.
Actually your point about room doesn't make sense, from the point of view strictly as the easiest and most nutritious way to preserve; if you can spare the fresh snaps for months until winter then you can spare them until they are dry - just leave them on the plant. Not for nothing leaving the plant in the ground not only puts the maximum nutrition in the bean seed it also fixes the maximum amount of nitrogen into the roots for a following crop.
Dry beans are hard to beat.
I don't just eat dry beans, I also eat snap beans and shelly beans and dilly beans and even once in a while leather britches just because there is more than one way to eat a bean. Key to this discussion is that a bean plant will produce just so many beans and then it will quit growing and focus on maturing the beans it has set. If you pick the early beans for leather britches, you don't reduce the total crop, you increase it because the plant keeps setting new beans as long as you keep removing them.
I'm thinking maybe pnbrown should be left to dry on the plant, after all, "dry beans are hard to beat".
Well.... if I left them for dry beans I wouldn't have my snaps would I :).
In the last couple of years I have become more interested in the preservation of heirloom varieties then eating them, in fact some we only get a taste, leaving the rest for seed which I share with others. I grow up to 16 varieties each year in my small garden, I have to bag flowers or cover with remay in some cases which is a pain but...
The leather britches might be a one time thing, I'm only going to do enough for a meal or two, it doesn't hurt to know how even if you don't do it on a regular basis.
On the other hand if I was growing beans just to eat it would be growing only varieties that are known to be good as snaps and shellies and buy the dry beans which are inexpensive.
True, the plant will be stimulated to produce more flowers when the early pods are removed. Whether a given plant produces more total calories and/or nutrition that way is less clear.