preparing runner beans

fusion_powerJune 6, 2009

I've read that runner beans have a poisonous chemical that must be cooked out of them. I'm curious if they are used as snaps, shellies, and dried, how do you prepare them?

Why do I ask?

Well, I have a huge crop set of Insuk's Wang Kong runner beans and I am curious how to fix them. I am growing them mostly for seed which I hope to send to Sandhill Preservation. But while I have them growing, I would love to try eating them.


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jwr6404(8B Wa)

I eat them as I would any other Green Bean,when they are small. Not being a meat eater I prefer them boiled with potatoes,a couple Jalepeno's,an onion and Lawrys seasoned salt. When they are ripe and shelled I prefer them soaked overnight and cooked in the rice cooker along with the Rice.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 4:44PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

So far I have harvested just small amounts, but there are many more on the vines and looking good! It seems like I will be getting quite a few of them (out of 10 plants). I will post what I end up making with them. Just like Jim, I don't 'do' meat either, but perhaps others will post how they prepare them too.

The last dish I made was a type of 'slaw', it included grated carrots, grated baby summer squash, and the runner beans (picked as green snaps as large as they get before getting 'seedy'). I did not have a large amount of runner beans, so I used them with other veggies to 'stretch them out' so to speak. I like creating salads with whatever the garden is producing, and this is what we have now. It was good. I steamed the runner beans and cut in slivers the size of the carrots slivers after I ran the carrots on the grater (or a little bigger). I also added chopped scallions. The dressing I used had some minced shiso leaves, juice of meyers lemons, sweet Chinese mustard, and maple syrup. The last two were the only purchased ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste (OK, I also buy my salt and pepper...)

I am sure these would be great using any dressing that you like for carrot slaw as well.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 3:30PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I had the opportunity to prepare the scarlet runner beans on a couple more meals. Well, three, but steaming them with carrots and fresh potatoes, add salt and pepper and drizzle some good olive oil, this should not count as a recipe. I love them this very simple way though.

I had some leftover tomato sauce that I had used on tortellini. Tomato paste, garlic, onions, fresh herbs (oregano, marjoram, basil and rosemary). After washing and trimming I cooked the runner beans (cut in 1 inch pieces) in that sauce, simmer about 20 minutes (might need to add a bit of water). They were very good, either with dark bread or rice.

My favorite so far: make aluminum foil pouches. Place garden potatoes, a whole bunch or runner beans (trimmed but left whole), 1 tbsp olive oil, fresh herbs of choice (I have used marjoram, sage, oregano, rosemary, whatever you have and like), add salt and pepper, a lemon rind and close pouch. Grill on hot ambers until done.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 12:47PM
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Do runner beans cause gas the way that other beans do?

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 1:41PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Happyday, I do not get gas from any green beans (or any dried bean as long as I prepare them myself).

Here is another way to prepare them that gets really high marks (uses up a lot of runner beans, it is easy and tasty).

Cream of green bean soup

Runner beans in the green snap stage (I used about 2 lbs)
1-2 cups chopped scallions or green onions, green and white
1 handful chopped basil leaves
olive oil, butter or a mix of the two
milk (optional)
freshly ground pepper

Steam runner beans after washing and trimming (large cuts OK)
Sautee cut scallions in olive oil or butter. Add steamed green beans. Puree with immersion blender. Add green beans steaming water. Might need to add more water or broth, some milk is really good too. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Note: you can reserve some of the steamed green beans, cut them smaller and add them to the soup for looks and texture.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 1:02PM
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Cabrita, that looks like a good recipe!

I meant prepared dried mature runner beans though.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2009 at 1:26PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I have not allowed any of them to get to the mature stage yet, but I will when the other beans (P. vulgaris) start producing more. I had never seen a bean like that, much less tasted it. I will reserve a bunch for seeds and eat the rest (will report). Maybe someone has recipes for cooking mature runner beans?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 3:16PM
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The main way we use purple or pink dry runner bean seed is in chili. Runners like Insuk's work fine for that.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 11:13AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I harvested a basket today of scarlet runners (IWK) in the green snap stage, but I noticed some of the pods were empty, like dried up a little with no seeds at all and much smaller size. I could say they had a 'leathery' feel. Since we got some heat I wonder if this is what people mean by them not setting pods? This might mean my runner bean harvest will halt until it cools again.

I still have a bunch of normal ones growing, but I really want enough seed (for eating and sending to folks) so I am going to quit picking them and let them go to seed. I hope this is how it is done. Then I will eat the excess seed. The chili idea sounds yummy drloyd!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 4:51PM
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ppod(6 SE NY)

I wished that Jim's wife, Insuk, would post a great many recipes for the runner bean that is named for her.

The IWK seeds are huge, and I guess many folks, who this summer grow Insuk's Wang Kong for the first time, have little experience preparing meals with this type of bean.

For Insuk's Wang Kong to become a great hit with gardeners, and remain a viable variety, it's imperative that people look forward to growing it for food.

To that end, we who now grow IWK would love to see recipes from hands experienced with cooking snacks and meals with the IWK pods, shellies, and dry seeds.

Please, Insuk, won't you kindly write down your family recipes, including the ones from the old country (so they are not lost), plus recipes that you created yourself while living here and abroad. Your contribution and efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you both Jim and Insuk for sharing this beautiful bean with a great many folks on this forum.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 10:09PM
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The pink/purple seeded runner bean seeds such as "Insuk's" and "Scarlet Emperor" are not the favorite dry beans or shellies for many people.

We make chili with the dried beans or shellies and it is a hit with all who try it. Two gallon batches vanish quickly and one of my sons has suggested entering it in a contest.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2009 at 10:49AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I agree with ppod, it would be great if Jim (and Insuk) posted some recipes for the IWK runner beans. I am curious myself to try them cooked in different 'Asian' styles.

drloyd I appreciate you posting about the chili. Normally I make chili with either black beans, pinto beans or a mix of pinto, black and red. This time I would just use the runner beans, so we can taste them better. I normally boil the beans with epazote and bay leaves, then add sauteed onions, garlic, cumin, smoked hot peppers and tomatoes (and salt). Maybe a little fresh oregano too. Does this sound like it would work with the runner beans? They are still maturing on the pods right now.

I wanted to add that the last dish I made with the snap runner beans was a soup like I described above but made from the grilled runner beans (we grilled a whole bunch and had extra). This gave the soup a very interesting smoky taste, it was delicious.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2009 at 7:25PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Over here runners are eaten pretty exclusively as green beans. You need to keep picking and they will keep coming. If you leave some to mature the plants will stop producing. Cook them any way you would cook other green beans. Some varieties get strings so need to be picked young or stringed. You can use a little gadget called a bean slicer which takes off the side strings and slices the bean all at once. I'm sure you have those. Otherwise just prepare them with a knife as slices, diagonal sections or however you fancy.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 5:49AM
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romanejo(6-7 Rochester, NY)

Funny you should ask about that as I was just sharing this info with a friend. Here is the text (bits culled from various sources), more like a mini-article:

A few beans (phaseolus vulgaris) can make you very sick. Surprised? Well, you would be since youÂve probably eaten plenty of hot bean meals with no ill effects  apart from maybe a bit of wind. But donÂt be fooled  those innocent looking red beans harbour the potential for hours of torture. The evil force within them are lectins, also called phytohaemagglutinins, a type of protein found in many types of beans, of which kidney beans have the highest concentration.

Why are lectins so terrible? First, they bind to intestinal cells preventing nutrient absorption and, second, when they enter the blood stream, they also bind to red blood cells. This causes "agglutination," a process whereby the red blood cells to clump together, rendering them useless. Symptoms of "red kidney bean poisoning" occur 1-3 hours after consumption, entailing extreme nausea, severe vomiting, followed by diarrhea and abdominal pain. Recovery is usually rapid, and sets in after 3-4 hours.

You may still wonder why this has not happened to you. Simple. Lectins are inactivated during cooking. Tinned kidney beans are always cooked, and when buying them dried, they are soaked and boiled before eating. It takes only four to five raw shelled-out kidney beans to trigger symptoms  and, paradoxically, undercooked beans are worse than raw shelled-out beans. You should, for example, never cook dried or raw beans in a slow cooker, which cooks foods at low temperatures over extended time periods. Heating kidney beans to only 80°C/176ºF (i.e. below boiling point, which is 100ºC/212ºF) makes them five times more toxic. To be safe, soak dried kidney beans in water for at least 5 hours, pour away the water (now you know why), and then boil them for at least one hour in fresh water. Raw shelled-out beans need to be boiled for a minimum of ten minutes. Even green beans, such as French or runner beans, contain a small amount of lectins and should not be eaten raw, so if you are a raw food fan, this is useful information.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 12:34PM
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We cooked scarlet emperor runner beans (similar to Jim's IWK beans, but perhaps not as big I think) by cutting the tender pods (strings removed) into thin threads similar to what Flora described, and stir-frying these with scallions and whatever else you might put in a stir-fry (meat included).

It might sound a bit tedious, but if you are used to chopping up vegetables into thin slices with a chef's knife or Chinese kitchen cleaver it should be pretty easy, since even at the snap-bean stage the pods are really big. Also, we did not poison ourselves in case anyone was wondering. :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 8:47PM
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As a heads up, I have harvested about 3 gallons of Insuk's Wang Kong beans and will be sending them to Sandhill Preservation. Here are some thoughts.

These beans are a population composed of some beans that are pure black, some that are pure white, and some that are 'painted' with purple and black like the painted lady beans. All are in the very large range except the white beans which are somewhat flattened which reduces their weight. A "population" means that this is not a single pure strain, rather, it is a group of strains saved as a seed line.

These beans make gorgeous scarlet flowers which persist over the summer. Several plants are still blooming in my garden. The pure white seed produce plants that mostly make white flowers. These make a good contrast with the red flowers.

These beans are much more tolerant of hot weather than most runner beans. Still, they will not make a crop here in the deep south unless special precautions are taken. Plant them just as early as possible, a week before last frost is just about right. Water if they get dry, these beans do NOT like hot and dry conditions. These beans benefit from having a shade producing crop on the south side. My rows are roughly east/west so I planted corn on the south side of the beans. The corn is tall enough to give just a bit of shade late in the evening.

They make vigorous runners and need a strong trellis at least 6 feet tall. I use a trellis made from 8 ft T-posts with a wire at top and bottom and zigzagging hay twine for the plants to grow up. Use well anchored supports to hold things up, a wind storm can lay them down because of the huge mass of foliage.

Beans are produced from the ground up. I picked the earliest pods right at ground level and have had successive pickings going up the plants. Once beans are picked at ground level, they do not tend to re-bloom down low, rather new blooms are formed higher in the plant. If the trellis is high enough, they will keep climbing and blooming.

Flower pollination is best at cooler temps in the range of 70 degrees. Once summer temps hit 90+, expect almost all of the flowers to bloom and then drop unpollinated. Bumblebees and/or mason bees seem to work the blooms to some extent early in the season, but when the heat is on, they are ignored.

Overall, I am very pleased with the growth and performance of these beans. These are the ONLY runner beans I have ever had success growing.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 1:09AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I am VERY pleased with the IWK runner beans. It was so hard to get them going that I am glad I did not give up. I am now at the stage of seed harvesting. A couple of weeks ago I harvested about 12 oz of shellies and made a small batch of chili. I had pretty low expectations, as I have been reading how these beans are not very much liked as shellies or dried beans. I think I understand why, as they might not go so well with European style cooking. They were very 'meaty' beans that had brilliant pink and purple colors as shellies. As they cooked down, they turned grayer and finally a light brown, like a light colored pinto bean. Their flavor is similar to pinto beans as well, but better texture. I would say they are more of a 'gourmet' pinto bean in taste. They just beg for flavorings like cumin, smoked peppers, garlic, onion, and I used some fresh oregano and a few tomatoes too. The chili was really top notch, so much so that I have just planted another row of them, as I like them for green snaps but I also really love them as shellies so I need more beans! (I have only ten of them planted in the original trellis). Not only are they tasty to me, but their size makes picking much more efficient, making growing your own dried beans feasible without too much work.

I have to mention that my seed did not get nearly as big as the original seed Jim sent. As weather is unpredictable, it did get warm so the developing beans did not get very large. They are still larger than P vulgaris, maybe like a large lima in size. I do not think zone 9 is ideal for them, but they have enough benefits that I'll take the slightly smaller beans and still consider myself lucky to have them. If you are in southern California, I can tell you they are ideal beans for our "June gloom" (which sometimes spills into July, but this year it didn't)

I should mention that we also pickled them as green snaps (dilly beans). I posted the recipe on another thread in this forum. They were superb pickled.

I now have about 1 1/2 lbs of dried beans after selecting the best out to save for seed. I just harvested the dried pods and I do wonder if I will get more green snaps when it cools down in the fall. That would be quite a few meals out of just 10 plants!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 9:11PM
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