Runner beans - so many different types?

cabrita(9b SoCal)June 23, 2010

By runner beans I mean the Phaseolus coccineus species. I first learned about them in this forum, and I greatly appreciate the information you have all been sharing. I would like to also share the little bit that I learned from eating them and growing them.

It started with the red scarlet runners, and as many of you I am growing the Insuk Wang Kong type (we call them king beans at home).

Earlier this year I made a purchase from Purcell farms, where they sell (expensive) gourmet beans. They are however, not expensive if you think of them as seed ;-). One disadvantage is that they will sell you the same bean under different names, and sometimes the names can be misleading.

I grew the ones named 'sweet white runners' because they cooked to a large, creamy, 'chestnuty' wonderful flavor and consistency. The flavor to me was reminiscent of the Christmas limas, which I love (but have a hard time growing). I also grew the ones named 'runner cannelini' since they were good too (different than the sweet white runners). I thought they were P vulgaris, but from the sprouts I could tell right away they were P coccineus. The cotyledons stayed inside the ground and they look just like the scarlet runners but with white flowers.

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The picture shows the Red scarlet runners on the bottom, the sweet white runners on the left, and the runner canelinnis on the right. The sweet white runner are on the average a little broader than the cannelinis (which might not be cannelinis?). Inside the square dish are "Bianco di spagna" that I got in a trade and also planted. They have sprouted but not producing yet.

This spring I have already been enjoying three out of the four in the picture. As green beans I can hardly tell them apart though. What is your experience with the runners as snaps? any distinctive flavor or texture differences?

Is there any information or experiences that you can share on these beans? Have you encountered yet other types of runner beans? Are there favorite ways that you cook them? I love the green snaps in pickles and also grilled. I harvest the red scarlet runners also as shellies and dried beans, they make an awesome addition to my 3 bean chili (I mix them with pinto beans and black beans from the store to 'stretch them out'). I am really looking forward to harvesting the sweet white runners as shellies.

We recently re-built a trellis for some of the runner beans, they are looking nice with their red and white flowers. I am using the same trellis for some manzano peppers, once they get their purple flowers it is going to be quite a sight. I have also been watching the hummingbirds. They definitely favor the scarlet flowers! I will try to post a picture of the trellis this coming weekend.

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denninmi(8a)

Thompson and Morgan has a good selection of runner beans. They are more popular in England than here, I believe, probably due to the fact they set pods better in cooler weather.

I enjoy the apricot colored varieties. I am also growing one this year (bunnies permitting, of course) with yellow foliage and red flowers called Sunbright or Sunbrite.

Hestia is a dwarf, bush form runner that is really pretty enough on its own to be used as a bedding plant, provided you are good at keeping it picked so it continues to bloom and doesn't peter out and go to seed.

Alas, I don't think they allow you to order directly from the UK site for US customers. The US site has some but not as many of the runners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thompson and Morgan's selection of runner beans

    Bookmark   June 25, 2010 at 10:27AM
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vtguitargirl(Z4b VT)

Thank you cabrita & denninmi for your info on runner beans

About Purcell Mt Farms: I saw the site but wasn't sure if their beans were for eating or planting. I bought some Maine Yellow Eyes from the grocery store but they did not germinate for me. I figured they were dried for packaging in an oven. (I read that somewhere...) So I wondered if that was typical of most grocery store beans. Anyhoo, now that I know where to get runner beans for cooking & planting, I know what my next gardening project will be!

T & M has quite a variety of runner beans. Most of the descriptions refer to the beans's taste in the snap bean stage. Do any of those make good soup beans as well?

I love this forum!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 2:36PM
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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

I've grown pinto and navy "store" beans. They were packed in 2 pound bags and were from a farm within 50 miles or my home. The company advertizes that all their beans are harvested within the last two years....makes it sound like that is a big deal and makes me wonder how old some of the other store beans are! Both the pinto and navy beans germinated and grew well. I did prespout a sample of each inside ahead of time since I wasn't sure if they would grow.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2010 at 10:17PM
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MrClint

I'd have to say that scarlet runner beans are marginal at best as snaps. There are too many good snap bean choices that blow it away. Your other selections sound like better choices as food crops. SRB are highly ornamental and great for fast fill-in of vertical spaces, and for attracting hummers. The beans look great in a glass jar as well. IMO, eating SRB is really a secondary use.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 12:21PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Denninmi thanks for the link! interesting to find out that some runner beans are dwarfs, some have white and red flowers and some are hybrids. From this catalog I take it that in GB they use them exclusively as snap beans. Impressive variety!

mrclint, we like to eat the red scarlet runners both as snaps and dried beans. We grow the Insuk Wang Kong type. Food is my primary objective and hummingbird attracting is just a bonus! In any case, taste is very subjective, but I believe some other folks in the forum grow the IWK beans to eat as well.

naturegirl, besides Purcell, sometimes I grow grocery store beans (pantry beans) from Camelia. They post the date of harvest on the bags and I have had good luck with them (growing some of them that is, as far as cooking them, they are always delicious).

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 12:48PM
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MrClint

Hi Cabrita, just to clarify a bit:
I was referring to the common scarlet runner beans that are widely available and typically categorized by seed companies as flower seeds. The varieties you have listed are runner beans, but even the Insuk Wang Kong's are not listed anywhere (that I could find) as SRB. I think vendors are wise not to list IWK as SRB to eliminate confusion -- but eliminating confusion is less of a goal on the various web forums. :)

Sandhill lists IWK as a runner bean with red flowers and with a mix of seed colors. That doesn't make it a good idea to refer to them as the same thing as the runner bean commonly known as Scarlet Runner.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scarlet Runner Bean Seed

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 5:10PM
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denninmi(8a)

The only way I've ever used any of my runner beans is as green beans ("snap" beans I guess). Never cooked the mature beans. I love the taste of them, equal or better than the best P. vulgaris beans IMHO.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 3:43PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I'd have to agree with Denninmi, runner beans are pretty good as snaps. It took me awhile to get used to their raw texture (I eat a lot of snaps raw) but the flavor is uniformly sweet, none of the "beany" flavor of some P. vulgaris snaps.

To me, the richest flavor has been from the black or brown seeded runners; but it seems to be mostly a question of degree of sweetness. Judging by the varieties I've tried (6 to date) there doesn't seem to be much variation in flavor, far less diversity than I have come to expect from common beans. Drloyd has tried more runners than I have, but I'm not sure he tested them as snaps... hope he weighs in on this.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 1:53AM
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drloyd

Zeedman, In 2008 when I grew so many runners, I did not try them as snaps. And I did not save seed as they wers so crossed. Starting in 2009, I have grown only one runner bean per year starting with all new seed from the original sources. This year it is "Bond's Orcas Lima." I will plan to try them as snaps.

I am reminded of your comment about "Striped Cornfield." You wrote that they were "OK as snaps, but it would be a waste to use them that way".

My family prefers beans that look like "proper green beans" such as "Fortex" or "Emerite." I am hoping to increase their fondness for snap-shelly combinations like "Tennessee Cutshort." - Dick

    Bookmark   July 3, 2010 at 2:44PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

"I'd have to say that scarlet runner beans are marginal at best as snaps..." ooohhh, I can't let that go! The reason T & M talks about the flavour as green beans is that they are almost exclusively used that way in the UK. I can't say I have ever met anyone who uses them as shellies (a term I learned on this site) or as dried beans and gardening guides and catalogues don't even mention those possibilities. But you HAVE to pick them young. If you can see the beans bulging it's too late. I get mine from Kings Seeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Runner beans

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 1:12PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Flora, when I was young scarlet runners were the only fresh green bean I ever ate, Gran used to french them before cooking. I can remember asking her every day, are the beans ready yet, I always asked for a second helping. Both sets of grandparents (English) had huge vegetable gardens but scarlet runners were the only beans they grew and these were always eaten as green beans. I haven't grown runners in a long time but have some Insuk Wang Kong's in this year, haven't planted the other variety I bought as I don't want them to cross. I'm growing the few Insuk Wang Kong given to me mainly for seed but hope to sneak a taste too.

I find it strange so many only grow them for the flowers, granted texture of runner beans is a little different to the green beans most are used to but then the first time I cooked green beans that weren't runners I thought I had over cooked them, I hadn't.

Now, everyone is talking about how good shellies are, until I joined in on this forum I'd never heard of them, now I want to try them :). The term greasy beans, reconstituted beans cooked with their jackets on (having a senior moment, can't think what they're called) were all new to me before I joined this forum. Hello out there it seems I've been living under a rock all these years. So much to learn, so much to try :).

Annette

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 2:01PM
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MrClint

Hi folks, always good to have differing points of view. It is when compared to other outstanding beans such as Contender or Royal Burgundy that SRB is marginalized.

Comparatively speaking, SRB lack the "beany" flavor of other snap beans because you have to pick them so early that all you are eating is a premature pod case. It isn't even a bean yet, so it isn't even a fair comparison. Just curious, can all you folks grow other types of beans so that you can do your own comparisons?

That said, I don't think there's one bean that excels in all facets of bean usage (ornamental, snaps, shellies & dried). It's perfectly fine to grow a number of beans for the above stated uses to get the very best of bean-dom. :)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2010 at 7:13PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"I'd have to say that scarlet runner beans are marginal at best as snaps."

Had a feeling that Flora might chime in on that one. ;-)

I don't think that runner beans, picked as snaps, are any less developed than P. vulgaris snaps such as "Fortex" or "Emerite". Relatively few beans (other than wax beans) are used as snaps after the seeds have developed. IMO, the sweetness of runner beans is a characteristic of the species... although there are P. vulgaris snaps that taste similar, such as "Garafal Oro". The texture is definitely meatier than most common snaps.

Flora, I'd be really interested in your opinion on this, since there are many more varieties of runner beans available in the U.K. than there are here. How much difference in flavor do you find between different varieties of runner beans in the U.K.? How would you compare that to the range of differences between varieties of French beans?

The biggest advantage of runner beans as snaps is that they will flourish where the weather is cool for much of the growing season. Common beans can be difficult under those conditions. Cabrita, Drloyd, and Flora all live in coastal maritime climates, and runners do well there. In some long-season areas with prolonged cool periods, runners can be a Spring or Fall crop.

By contrast, in the (relatively) hot summers of my Midwest location, runners drop blossoms during hot weather (which is most of the summer) and the pods I do get are much shorter than those grown in cool climates. The last two years were exceptionally cool, so I was able to enjoy some fairly good snaps from the runners I grew; but most years, the pods are stubby, with only 2-3 seeds developing. I can grow them for seed crops, but they would never perform to their full potential here as snaps.

Personally, I haven't been fond of eating the shellies from runner beans... but then, I really love butterbean limas, and quite a few people don't. It's a matter of taste, I suppose. For those that live in the previously mentioned cool climates, limas are impossible - so runners (and favas) can offer large-seeded alternatives for those who like green-shelled beans.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 2:28AM
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farmerdilla

There are somme 100 listed cultivars of P. coccineus compared to 2000 + listed cultivars of P. vulgaris. Big disadvantage of P. coccineus is thier climate sensitivity. They like a North western Europe type climate. Much of the USA gets too hot in the summer for them. Vermont bean use to carry a broad selection but have cut back to 4 cultivars. Lack of demand for the seeds.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 8:02AM
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MrClint

Seed packages are typically pretty clear on what to expect from a particular bean:
Bean Bush Contender Organic Seed
Harvesting: Snap beans are ready to pick when the pod "snaps" or breaks in half CLEANLY. This is when seeds have just begun to form, and the pods are 4"-8" long.

The small bean that's beginning to form will impart a lesser or greater amount of bean flavor. In the case of SRB, I think it's the former. At the end of the day it boils down to taste preferences.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 11:42AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

My IWK's are starting to flower, the last few days have been around 90 but it's cooling off now so hopefully I have some beans forming shortly. I'm not the authority that others are but the runners I've eaten have a nice beany flavor, it's also their texture that I like, I like them kind of crispy. I guess it comes down to what you've been used to.

Annette

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 11:45AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"Vermont bean use to carry a broad selection but have cut back to 4 cultivars. Lack of demand for the seeds."

Agreed. I've lamented several times about the transformation of Vermont Bean, and all the varieties they dropped after joining Jungs. It's really a pity, they had the largest selection of runners on this side of the Atlantic. I am preserving one of those dropped varieties, "Goliath"; but my seed stock is overdue for replenishment. A combination of work & weather kept me from getting some my beans in this year... including both of the runners I had planned. :-(

Farmerdilla, you have several times quoted the number of cultivars of a species that are available. The references I turn to for that are the current version of Garden Seed Inventory (from SSE), the SSE Yearbook, the Cornell database, and USDA/GRIN. Is your information from a personal database, or from a publication of some type? I - and no doubt others - would be indebted to you if you could cite a reference.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 4:04PM
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farmerdilla

It is from plantfiles, which I am not allowed to mention on GW

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 5:15PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

zeedman, you hit the nail on the head, a lot depends on where you live. I grew the VARIETY 'Scarlet Runner' a few years ago and like mrclint did not find it that good, but I was interested to read here of the runner bean's greater adaptation to cool summers, which I have, and tried IWK last year. I liked them much better than 'Scarlet Runner', but had to keep them picked or they got tough. They were rather short with not many beans per pod. I did find that they produced earlier, more abundantly, and later than the regular pole beans, so worthwhile where I live. So this year I am trialing a couple of T&M ones, Polestar and Wisley's Magic, that are supposed to be very long and stay tender, in addition to IWK. I regret the cross-pollination I will probably have but can hopefully buy more pure seed if I find a winner, or can just grow a diverse gene pool of plants.

I am discouraged by finding that Gurney's has bought out T&M. I don't know what changes will occur, or if their selections will diminish.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 4:10PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"I am discouraged by finding that Gurney's has bought out T&M. I don't know what changes will occur, or if their selections will diminish."

I hadn't heard that... was it only the U.S. branch that was sold off? It may result in the loss of many of their current offerings. I'll have to check into that, and give them a closer look; it might be a good idea to order anything of interest now, and save seed.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 1:48AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Zeedman - sorry I can't be of much help to you re various flavours in Runner Beans. I only grow for my family and stick to Painted Lady which I have grown and saved my own seed from for years. So I haven't done a compare and contrast. Certainly over the years I think newer cultivars have got more tender. They no longer require stringing which used to be a given. Regarding French beans (P vulgaris) I'm not much help there either since in my garden they usually fail through a combination of cold, wet and snails and so I just appreciate any that actually grow, let alone do taste comparisons. I do recall that I was not impressed by the yellow wax I grew one year.

But to judge runner beans on something called 'scarlet runner' is like buying and growing seed labelled 'cabbage' or 'tomato' and then wondering why it's not good quality.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 9:26AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

We got the first heat wave (100+) of the season, so no more runner beans for us. Last year I got a small fall crop, I will give them another chance this fall.

I got enough to keep us in 'fresh snaps' from the peas to the first P vulgaris, which were bush black valentines for us this year. They got the grill treatment in 3-4 cook outs and they made it to the pickle jars along the black valentines. They also made it in the mixed veggie steam pots we make, along our carrots and potatoes.

The seed that I have will be let mature and harvested as shellies. I will use the IWK in a nice pot of chile, with some of our own smoked hot peppers. Not sure if I will get enough shellies out of the white runners. Maybe just to replace seed.

I love their versatility. I think it is very interesting that they taster similar as snaps, while being so different from one another as shellies or dried beans.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:47PM
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MrClint

The heat has sure zapped my mixed planting of SRB and purple hyacinth beans. They haven't given up the ghost yet, but they are looking a bit ragged. When they're done for -- I'll prune them down to the ground and see if they'll restart when the weather is more to their liking. Has anyone tried this approach? Any tricks or tips on extending the growing season would be appreciated, as SRB and hyacinth beans make for a stunning display.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 12:14PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Just to give you an idea of the different climate here, in which runner beans thrive, I picked the first ones last week (maybe a couple of weeks late this year). They will now crop until the first frost.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 7:07AM
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catherine_nm

I'm in a cool, dry mountain climate. Mine are just blooming now. Scarlet Emperor (5 feet tall now) and Jack and the Beanstalk (7 feet tall on a 6 foot trellis, very rampant grower, white seed, from Peace Seeds).

I've grown SE and Painted Lady in the past, but just for flowers and to save seeds to plant again. (Yes, they were planted in different years). Now I'm looking at them again in my search for a lima bean substitute. My climate is too cool to grow real limas, so I have moved on to runner beans (this year) and favas (next year) to produce big shellies and dry beans.

Catherine

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 12:42PM
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happyday(WI4a)

reconstituted beans cooked with their jackets on

Do you mean leather britches? I haven't tried them, has anyone else done that? Dried the whole pod then boiled the whole dried pod? Do the beans have to be not fully formed for it to work?

Last year I did not try to eat the IWK runner pods, they looked too strange, like strips of green retread rubber. Tried a few this year and was surprised how sweet they are. Never had sweet beans before. I might try growing other runners.

Annette, the Italians and the Mr.Tungs are growing very well, they are over the tops of the trellis already. Zeedman I got 3 of the last Birds Egg #3 to germinate and they are all over the trellis, I hope to get seed! Also growing two other Birds Egg from USDA and two Horticultural, London and King. All are pole beans.

Also growing several from Purcell Mtn, some are pole, am waiting to be sure on the others before posting what they are. One odd result, I paid $16 a pound for the Purcell Mtn Tarbais that is supposed to be imported from France. Have replanted several times and am now trying to sprout them indoors, but of maybe 70 beans, only two have germinated, and they are very slow growing. I wonder if they were treated to stop customers from growing them? Or if they were very old seed?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:11AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Happy, that's it 'Leather Britches' :). Good to hear the beans are growing well for you, we had such a slow start this year but everything seems to be on track now.

Annette

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 2:16AM
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farmerdilla

Leather Britches, Leather Breeches in the eastern Appalachians, Shuck beans in Kentucky and other parts of the western Appalachians. Typically regular pole beans , strung, snapped and threaded onto a string and dried, You can still see examples at the demonstration farms along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Each snapped piece was threaded through the middle, each at right angle to the others and hung in the eaves to dry. In the winter, they were cooked with salt pork seasoning in the traditional southern mountain style. ( simmered on the back of a wood burning cook stove for hours). When I was a kid Clark's #8 sewing thread was the thread of choice.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 8:44AM
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happyday(WI4a)

Farmerdilla, as they were snapped the beans had to be immature, not yet shelly stage, right? How did they taste? Does the pod reconstitute and get crisp again, or are they chewy, or ? Is Leather Britches a good dish?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 3:26PM
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farmerdilla

As my old pappy used to say "Beats eating snowballs"' but no they don't come any closer to fresh snap beans than a dried apple pie to an apple pie. I would recommend only for nostalgia. This was a good method before canning and freezing was invented. Yes they were regular snap beans, not too beany.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 4:56PM
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drloyd

I grow one runner bean each year and this year it was Bond's Orcas Lima. It is a white seeded runner bean in spite of its name.

I do not normally use runners for snaps but I tried this variety that way and they were very good. We also like the seeds of Bond's as shellies. - Dick

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 1:07AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Don't you just love gardening? After all that extolling of runner beans I find that this year, the first time ever in my entire gardening experience, the P vulgaris produced prodigously and the P coccineus were far fewer than in past years. We had the coldest winter in many years followed by the hottest early summer in many years. It seems that the runners missed our usual deluges and gloom while the French beans enjoyed the sun. Things have now settled back to normal with a cool, wet end of August and things are reverting to normal. Both beans now producing quite nicely.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 5:44AM
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happyday(WI4a)

This year I'm growing Purcells Cannellini bean, Runner Cannellini, and Giant White bean. The two cannellinis are different. One is a smooth common bean and the runner is a true runner with the rough pods. Both are pole beans.

I'm wondering if the Sweet White Runner is the same bean as the Cannellini Runner? Has anyone compared them?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:04PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Happy, I ate them (the seeds) and they were not the same. I saved enough seeds of course, and ate 3/4 of the lb of each variety I bought from Purcell. They are pictured on the first post here. You cannot see this too well in the picture, but the average length/width aspect ratio was a little different. Cannelinis are more elongated. The ones I planted (runner cannelinis) are not P vulgaris for sure. The cotyledons stayed in the ground, and they look like the red scarlet runners. They do not like the heat.

Flora, nice to hear your P vulgaris did well this year!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 6:57PM
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happyday(WI4a)

Correct, Cabrita, the runner cannellini and cannellini are different beans, and the runner is not p. vulgaris. I have both growing now and can see the difference.

The Purcell website says that the Sweet White Runner and the Corona are the same, though.

I also have the Purcell Giant White growing and it looks to be a half-runner, it is 63 days old today and has no flowers or beans yet, I'll have to spray it with 10-54-10 soon. My early notes say that it did put up cotyledons, not true leaves, so maybe it is a common bean or lima?

Flora, what variety of French bean did you grow? Can you order beans from France easily? There are some interesting sources in the Mongetes del Ganxet thread.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 9:21PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Sorry to confuse you, happyday, we use the term 'French bean' for any P vulgaris. It doesn't mean they come from France. These were a dwarf(bush) variety called 'Annabel' from Kings Seeds.

Here is a link that might be useful: Annabel

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 1:19PM
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happyday(WI4a)

Don't worry, Flora, you didn't confuse me. I used your term of French bean rather than common bean as a courtesy to you. Even if you hadn't used both terms in your post, I know that Brits say French bean instead of common bean, and that the word "common" has other connotations in the UK. Kind of like we Americans temporarily hearing terms like "victory cabbage" instead of sauerkraut and "Freedom fries" instead of french fries, lol, but those rebranded terms never caught on. They were just some copywriter's idea to support wars, anyway.

I just wondered if you could simply order from interesting French, Spanish and Italian seed companies with maybe just a check drawn on your bank in euros, without having to pay currency conversion fees, and if your custom agents would let you import them.

Even if we had a way to simply pay in euros, our nanny state would probably stop it at the border.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 2:57PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Well I'm afraid I can't answer your question as I have never tried ordering seeds from abroad. But if I did I could not use my cheques as we do not use the Euro in the UK. When I order things from mainland Europe I use my credit card and pay an exchange fee, same as you would have to.

Within the EU we can import seeds and small amounts of plant material but often varieties suited to one country are no use in another.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 1:11PM
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happyday(WI4a)

How many white flowered runners are there? There is the White Lady runner bean offered by several sites, but the Runner Cannnellini from Purcell Mountain also has white flowers. Could they be the same bean?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 4:57AM
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happyday(WI4a)

Also, the Wiki says that "This species originated from the mountains of Central America." Is that true, did all runner beans come from the New World? Were there no tropical runners in Asia or Africa?

What did Europe have for beans before the New World? Favas from the MidEast, or were there other beans cultivated? Does anyone have a recommendation maybe as to a book with a good history of the origin and distribution of edible beans over the world?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2010 at 5:29PM
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macky77(2a)

Reviving an old thread here (it came up on my search for runner threads). :) Wanted to add a book suggestion for happyday, if I might (see link). I can't imagine any tidbit of information about beans that isn't in this book!

Here is a link that might be useful: Beans: A History

    Bookmark   August 22, 2011 at 6:38PM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

macky77, the book looks interesting, thanks!

Since this thread is up I thought I should give an update on the beans shown in the OP picture.

While I still think that the flavor of snaps is similar, I have changed my opinion on other aspects. Comparing all 4 beans shown above (sweet white runners, runner canellinis, Bianco di Spagna and IWK).

In my climate, the runner canellini forms pods for a longer season, forms much longer pods before stringiness, and is is just much better as a snap bean as the others. It is delicious pickled, grilled, and stewed in tomato sauces.

The sweet white runners and Bianco di Spagna form very similar pods, curved, short, and they get stringy fast. You can still eat them if you catch them quickly. The IWK fall somewhere in between, at least for me. In the right climate, they will form gigantic and fat (straight) pods) that can be 18 inches before getting stringy. Unfortunately I have had no luck at all with them lately.

The runner canellini seeds taste like canellini beans. The sweet white runner seeds taste chestnuty and go very well with many Mediterranean dishes. It is not very productive here, but it does OK by the side of a chayote plant. The chayote takes over in the fall, the sweet white runners peak in the spring. Each one shades the other in between seasons.

This year my white runner beans did much better then my red ones (IWK). I miss the IWK shellies in chillies, and I also miss the hummingbirds!

I had the chance to multiply the seed for the Bianco di Spagna. From the name, it seems to have a z9 origin (just like the runner canellini?) so no surprise they did so well here. I only have one surviving plant, but have saved enough seed from it to multiply it next year. We were also able to taste it. Hard to describe, but very good, and also very different from the other two white seeds. One thing I really like is its productivity, It beats all other 3 (seeds pictured) in that regard. I will still grow the others since the seed flavors are so different.

Believe it or not, I have been harvesting a few pods from the runner canellini (yesterday). It has been close to 100 here (finally).

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:40PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

Cabrita- have you tried growing out the beans in the 8 bean mix from Purcell Mtn. Farms? Do you know what the white beans in that are and what the solid brown beans are like as snaps? They look interesting. To get 8 different kinds of beans from the photo, there would have to be 5 kinds of white beans?

Here is a link that might be useful: 8 bean mix

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 8:21AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I have not tried the 8 bean mix, but it looks like it might be worth a try! Maybe someone else will chime in. 8 bean seeds for the price of one, why not?

The way I found out their cannellini was a P. coccineus was to plant it, the cotyledons stayed in the ground, then it came back next spring with a vengeance.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 11:11AM
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drloyd

We did try "Bond's Orcas Lima" as snaps this summer and everyone liked them. They are among the the earliest of the runner beans but they are struggling to make dry seed this summer. Only a few pods have started to turn yellow.

So many beans, so little time!

Dick

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 11:20AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Samos Greek Limas, planted late are just about ready to pick in the green stage, I'm not worried about saving seed this year. I don't know if I'll get to try them as a shelly though, depends on the weather.

Annette

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 12:16PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

After reading this thread and being frustrated over where to get seeds, I just bought some of the white runner beans from Purcell Mountain Farms- Corona, Sweet White Runner, and Runner Cannellini. I'm trying to sprout 5 of each, but so far they are not sprouting very well, some are starting to mold a little, then suddenly one sprouted, and others are starting. Perhaps they take longer being big? I also got a bean described as having a nutty taste like Tarbais, a beautiful brown mottled bean called Spanish Tolosna. All of them sprouted fast. I decided to try them in my aquaponics system and see how they do. Next spring I will try all the beans in the garden, I'm going to grow them instead of IWK for a year, the hummingbirds may be disappointed, though they may visit them anyway.

Here is a link that might be useful: Purcell Mtn Farms

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 4:32AM
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drloyd

Hi Nancy,

If you do cook any of the large white runner seeds, please let us know how you like them. Zeedman liked Gigandes as a shelly. I like Bond's Orcas Lima runner as a shelly. Bond's is a much better producer here in our PNW climate than Bianco di Spagna, Cannellini Gigante or Delucci Cannellini.

So far I have not seen any reports of eating quality of any of the dried beans. - Dick

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 8:58AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Drloyd, I liked the "Bianco di Spagna" as shellies also... but they were harvested much more immature than the "Gigandes", so I couldn't compare them on a level playing field.

It may well be that I will like runner bean shellies in the green shelly stage better than those in the ripe shelly stage. I've been meaning to experiment with picking the pods when plump but still green, then steaming the pods like edamame, and shelling them. Unlike edamame, they would still require additional cooking... but they might be easier to shell that way. Unfortunately, I've been unable to experiment with that method, because I haven't had a good year for runner beans since I first thought of the idea. :-(

It may also turn out that I prefer ripe runner bean shellies canned - as in pressure canned - as opposed to fresh. I plan to test "Gigandes" that way when I grow it again, hopefully next year (crossing fingers). The thought of canning them in a sauce really makes my mouth water.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 2:55AM
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sweetquietplace(6 WNC Mtn.)

Zeedman..."canning them in a sauce..." looks interesting. Kindly elucidate.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:27AM
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drloyd

Zeedman, making a difference between an immature shelly and a shelly where the pod is starting to dry has occurred to me also. I did shell some plump green hull Bianco di Spagna this summer and enjoyed them. Then I tried some when the hulls were yellow and almost felt like the bean should have been pealed. Or perhaps they needed a good boiling rather than a brief steaming.

This brings up the question of how they will be as a dry bean.

I do not recall having this issue with Bond's. They were treated like ordinary shellies and were often used when the hulls were yellowing. I do not recall any sense of them becoming chewy. And Bonds produces many times more here in our milder summers.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 11:34AM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I just experimented on sprouting my seeds from Purcell Mtn. Farms for a few days-
Corona (AKA Bianco di Spagna)- 3/5 sprouted in 5 days
Runner Cannellini- 0/5 sprouted in 5 days, smell bad
Sweet Runner Cannellini- molded in 3 days, 2/5 sprouted in 5 days
Spanish Tolosna (regular brown mottled bean described as tasting like Tarbais)- 6/6 sprouted in 3 days

I decided to try the sprouted beans in my aquaponics system so will report on how they grow there. I've grown beans there before but tend to get more vines than beans, probably because there is too much nitrogen and not enough phosphorus.

Nancy

Here is a link that might be useful: blog photo of beans

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 6:02PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"... Then I tried some when the hulls were yellow and almost felt like the bean should have been pealed."

That has been my observation also, for most of the runner beans I've tried as shellies. That, and the "off" flavor of many of them, had me questioning whether runner bean seeds were really suited for use as shellies.

Now I suspect that those issues can largely be overcome, whether by choice of variety, level of maturity at harvest, or means of preparation. This is, IMO, mostly uncharted territory, so there is still a lot of research & experimentation yet to be done. The beans are so large & visually appealing, it would be wonderful if their flavor could be made to match their appearance.

My hope is that canning will prove to soften the skins of the mature beans. I've never been very fond of canning vegetables, since I prefer the fresh flavor of frozen produce... but in the case of runner bean shellies, canning might improve their palatability. Who knows, the pressure cooking itself might yield favorable results. I'm looking forward to experimenting, provided that I have enough beans next year to do so.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2012 at 9:18PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I've been using runners as shellies occasionally since I discovered the concept on this forum. I use the ones which are still green pods but too tough to use as snaps. Previously I would have put them on the compost heap as inedible! If the pod is brown or yellow the beans are far too tough. I steam or lightly boil the beans then saute with garlic.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 5:28AM
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drloyd

Dry Bond's Orcas Lima runner bean seeds were soaked overnight. Early the next morning they were brought to a boil and the heat was turned off. After a couple hours the soaking water was poured off and discarded. Small pieces of bacon were fried and then onion and celery was added and sauteed. This was mixed with the beans and they were boiled until lunchtime.

This made a good soup. The beans held their shape but were tender and the skins were thin and soft. DW said she liked the texture better than Limas. The soup was still good at lunchtime the next day. The soaking method did not really take care of the issues.

I still like Lima bean soup better. - Dick

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 10:39AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Nomenclature check. AFAIK Runner Beans are Phaseolus coccineus. Limas are Phaseolus lunatus. I am not clear what a Lima runner would be. Is it a Lima which climbs?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 12:20PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Flora I've never figured out why the two that I know of "Bond's Orca's Lima" and the one I have "Samos Greek Lima", both Phaseolus coccineus are called Limas.
Perhaps in recipes calling for Limas these are a good substitute if you don't have any Limas on hand :).

Annette

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 1:15PM
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drloyd

I agree with you both. Both beans are genuine P. coccineus and both have confusing names. It would be nice to be able to grow Limas. - Dick

    Bookmark   December 8, 2012 at 2:52PM
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