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Liz Wright’s smallholding diary - Anyone for runner beans?
12:00am Tuesday 14th August 2012 in News
I have four runner bean plants grown in a wigwam shape next to the donkeys’ field but out of their reach. I failed completely again this spring to grow my own beans and bought
four from the side of a road which had been left over from a commercial field planting. No idea what variety. One snapped on the way home so I used sellotape to repair it. Mick
said it would never grow but it did and you can’t see the difference now. They stood through freezing cold spring weather, wind, avoided the donkeys’ slavering jaws and
finally flowered in early June. Now I am inundated with runner beans. I don’t know what to do with them all. I must confess they are not my favourite vegetable but a combination of
having so many and being deeply hard up at the moment is making them more palatable but is there any other way to cook them than sliced and with butter and pepper?
Recently I took a market stall in aid of the Donkey Sancanctuary Sidmouth and one of the donated items didn’t sell as no one knew what it was. Eventually I rang its donor and she told me it was a runner bean slicer. It is excellent – I bought it. It dates back to the fifties and it can slice beans in seconds and gets rid of the stringiness. I bet when they were salting beans this machine revolutionised the time it took. I can’t find anything on the market today that is anywhere near as good and doesn’t require electricity and a lot of washing up.
So please, please if you have any runner bean recipes can you share them with me? Runner bean salad? Chutney? Curry? I really can’t think of anything else. I may have to resort to simply freezing for the winter. Email me on email@example.com or add your comments to this story. I really would be very pleased to have some ideas.
• I have just found this rather excellent website and the pasta sounds a really good idea http://everything-runnerbean.com/cooking-and-eating.html
I took this from my book, Self Sufficiency, published by Gaia and is a basic guide to salting
Throughout history, salting was the most important method of preserving food into the hungry seasons and for this reason salt was very valuable in everyone’s economy. Although salted meats and fish do remain as a small part of some people’s diet (such as salt beef), for other produce it has been overtaken by more modern methods such as canning, freeze drying and freezing. Some people still like to salt surplus runner beans especially if freezer space is at a premium and of course the famous Sauerkraut from eastern Europe, is, in essence, salted cabbage.
Points to remember are that the salt used has to be pure and so table salt which has extra chemicals added to make it pour well, is not suitable. Choose rock salt (not the sort you put on snow) or sea salt.
Vegetables preserved in this way will inevitably be salty and will require being soaked prior to use with changes of water to remove as much as possible.
Basic recipe for salting
About 2kg (4lbs) vegetables will need 450g (1lb) salt.
Take a clean glass container and layer the bottom with salt, then layer vegetables, then salt until you reach the top.
Press down with a weighted plate which will keep the vegetables enveloped in the salt which will eventually turn to brine as it draws out the moisture. Then fit a tight fitting lid and it should keep for up to a year.