Monday, September 03, 2012

Green Beans

Green beans, yellow beans, purple beans...

We went to the farm this weekend and I was surprised to find that there were green beans that were at the peak of harvest time. 

They were not ready in August when the kids visited.  In a normal year they would have been ready for harvest the second week of August.

With the extreme drought conditions, there weren't many ready then. 

But although the plants are quite stunted, there were a lot of green beans.

I spent the whole day today on green beans.  My dad's comment last year was "why spend so much time on a low value crop?"

Last night when we arrived at the farm I picked two rows.  This morning I picked one more row plus found some I had missed last night. 

These were VERY LONG rows.  I had a lot of time to think while picking.

Stoop down.  Pick 3 beans.  Stand up.  Move to the left.  Stoop down.  Repeat. 

After I while I realized that maybe if I didn't have so much up and down movement I would go faster.  So I tried hands and knees for a while. 

Suddenly I realized that I do not have as much upper body strength as I had when I was a toddler.  After 100 yards, I decided to stand, stoop, and pick again.

Picking beans, you have a lot of time to think about many things.  I thought about inventing a bean picker.  My husband later told me it's already been done.  We just don't raise enough beans to make owning one a wise investment. 

I thought about my job.  I thought about my family.  I thought about people who pick beans for a living.  We all want to eat beans, but in order for us to do that, someone has to pick the beans.  Planting the beans with an old planter takes an hour, but picking the beans takes a lot of time. 

If you leave the bean plant in the ground, it will flower again and produce more beans.  If you pick the whole plant and take it to the barn, you can sit down while you pull off the beans, but the harvest is finished.

I left an entire row unpicked.  I knew I needed to process the beans today.  You have to snap the ends off the beans before you can freeze or can them.  I did not have a pressure canner at the farm, so I chose to freeze them (It's easier and faster anyway).

First I sorted the beans by color. 

The yellow beans were a little more mature, in general, than the green and purple beans. 

The purple beans were not as prolific as they have been in previous years.

I was really impressed by the performance of the green beans.  The pods were full and the beans were long.  Even though we have been in extreme drought, when I found a plant with beans, there were 3-5 beans on each plant.  I will re-order the same variety next year.  I hope we do not have another drought year next year. 

Next I blanched the beans.  The green ones were blanched for one minute because they seemed very tender.  The purple beans were blanched for 3 minutes because they were not quite so good.  The yellow ones were blanched for four minutes because they seemed very tough. 

I packed them into zip-lock bags, labeled them, and threw them into the freezer.  About 15 quarts in all.  Not so good for as many as we planted, but considering the weather conditions, not so bad after all.

Our freind William visited while I was snapping the beans.  It evidently reminded him of down-home cooking.  He had quite a few stories about cooking coons and chicken feet.  I am not interested in these recipes. 

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