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Finding harmony with green beans the slow southern way

September 25, 2013

Our wall of pole beans is still bearing

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… and I’m not really complaining, especially since the tall wall helps get my husband out there.

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And his brother (below).

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Of course, I pick plenty down lower too.

And here is how you string beans if you are a man.

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Sit on the front porch with a radio, ready to take notes from a Saturday morning bargain show where people call in what they have for sale.

So far we have harvested more than 5 bushels and given four of those away. We also grow bush beans and canned those earlier in the summer, so I have all I need for the next year.

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But not everyone knows how to cook pole beans. I sure didn’t. But some kids who have turned up their noses at plain jane basic green beans, seem to like beans at our house, or other beans cooked the slow southern way as I’ve learned to do. One mother of two sons said they loved my beans, but won’t eat them at home when she tried serving the grocery store variety (I’m not sure whether she purchased canned green beans or frozen). The pole beans are not very soft the first time you cook them (unless you use a pressure cooker—which I don’t use), but upon reheating for several days, they take on more and more flavor. I should note that I do use a pressure canner for canning the beans, and once canned, that does of course “cook” and soften them.

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This is a large pressure canner; people generally use much smaller pressure cookers to cook a big mess of beans without canning etc.

No one will tell you the beans are very nutritious this way (and my husband just told me that the Hottingers, his mother’s family) was known for serving green beans with every meal. A staple like bread. No wonder I’ve heard tell of some who “put up” 100 to 150 quart each summer. So if you think of the beans as a side dish, and look to a salad or other veggie for a more nutritious dish at the meal, that works. Many times my Virginia family boils their potatoes right along with the beans, for yet another flavor.

I’ve read that in areas of the world where refrigeration is not available because of spotty electricity, people cook and reheat the same pot of food for several days until it is used up, because reheating (to the boiling point) kills any germs and makes it safe to eat again.

Let me hasten to add that I personally love green beans that have only been lightly cooked or sautéed with a little olive oil, seasoning salt and minced garlic. My mother’s favorite way was to lightly boil fresh garden beans to the point they turn bright green, then brown them in a cast iron skilled in which she’s sautéed a few pieces of bacon. We didn’t even mind the beans a bit burned from the cast iron skillet. Now that was flavorful.

Here’s a little tutorial on pole beans (or others) cooked the slow southern way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqNLyNWniTY

And here’s a real chef’s takes on slow cooked southern green beans over at Chef John’s Food Wishes blog.

Like Chef John at this blog says, there was a time when people cooked peas and asparagus and broccoli way too long, too. I do not like any of this trio cooked long and limp and will forgive any school child who grew up having to eat cafeteria-cooked peas or broccoli and think that it has to taste that bad. It doesn’t! It isn’t!

The way I cook most green beans though doesn’t involve onions or chicken broth or any additional ingredients than beans, sautéed or microwaved bacon pieces (I save the ends of fatty bacon for this purpose), or a piece of country ham or ham hock. (If you don’t know what country ham is, never mind, just use the bacon) and salt and pepper to taste.

Here’s my current pot of beans, warmed over now three times I think. I do refrigerate them since I don’t live in Africa or the 1800s.

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You’ll take bright lightly cooked green beans? That’s ok. Beans can be fixed great so many different ways.  When the wall of beans is done bearing, I’ll be saving some seeds for next year so I don’t know of much cheaper eating.

How do you like your green beans?

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From → Family Life, Food, Recipes

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