Drying Green Beans –
The “Leather Britches” Way
Early American settlers used this drying method with green beans. Before refrigeration, food was preserved by either drying, or storing food in a root cellar. By drying whole green beans into “leather britches”, people could enjoy an exceptionally good quality green bean all season long.
The whole process begins by sitting on the front porch swing, sipping a cold glass of iced tea while shucking the green beans.
After you have gathered and snapped the beans ends, the drying process begins. Traditional methods of drying greens beans entailed stringing them up by using a needle and heavy thread, although conventional methods prefer to dry the beans on a screen for several days. The use of old screen windows are used for the drying process which allows enough air to circulate all around the beans evenly. Be sure to place some fine netting or cheese cloth over the beans to keep the insects away. After several days they are ready for storage.
For the “sewing” method, you do not have to rise or dry your beans first. If you sew your beans on thread to dry and they are damp, they could possible rot. Take a thick needle and sturdy thread and thread the needle through the pod, not the bean or you will never get the thread out afterward. Then hang them to dry. I have dried green beans in the shade and full sun and both methods work fine as long as the been remains dry and no moisture gets to them. You want to dry them with the least amount of humidity as possible.
Once the beans are dry as leather, which usually takes several days up to a week, depending upon the humidity, they are then ready to be stored in the freezer. Afterward, “Leather Britches” will need to soaked before cooking, they are best soaked over night and then the liquid drained off, followed by two more fresh-water soaks in the morning. After soaking the beans, they are then ready to be cooked as if they were fresh beans. Everthing depends upon the “moisture removal” process during the initial drying period in order to obtain the “freshness” quality or “raw” quality of the original “green bean”
When you’re ready to cook, you rinse them really well and set them in water to soak overnight, then simmer slow on the back of the stove with a piece of white bacon for seasoning for a few hours. Add salt when the beans are tender, not before and serve with cornbread.
Instructions for drying Shucky Beans
String very full beans as you would for cooking, but do not break them. Thread beans on twine, using just enough beans on each string for one or two meals. Then drop them into a brine of ½ cup coarse salt and one gallon of water for 15 minutes. Drain on newspaper. The brine will keep bugs away from your beans. Hang the strings of beans on wire or rope in a dry place for at least three weeks. Make sure they are completely dry or they will mold.
Kali S Winters