Thursday, October 29, 2009

Scarlet Runner Beans

My success in the garden this year amounts to watering while calming a fussy baby. I did manage to harvest a handful of tomatoes, and I am still enjoying handfuls of Bright Lights Swiss chard.

One crop I tried this year was Scarlet Runner beans. Once again, I was suckered in by the picture on the seed packet. Who ever creates the watercolor drawings for Renee's Seeds, their marketing is working on me! And yes, I'm one of those who buys wine solely on the pretty label!

The red-orange flowers featured on the seed packet would pop out against the purples and blues of the lavender and borage in my garden. I planted a few in my bright Mediterranean blue planter box as well, hoping the vines would cascade over the edge. Beyond admiring the flower color, I had no idea what to do with them.

Well, the vines didn't cascade over the boxes and didn't have much of a chance after 100+ degrees here at the end of July. But, I did plant a few next to my grape and they dutifully climbed the trellis and produced flowers and amazingly furry pods. Great! I have a crop, but now what? I'm sure these are not for eating straight from the vine; the hairs are quite coarse.

I didn't get around to investigating the beans inside the pods until today. The dried pods revealed black beans with bright pink specks. Unreal! The greener pods have reddish pink beans. So, which ones should I cook up? I went to Google for my answer.

This was the best thread I could find from the Edible Landscape Forum on Garden Web. It looks like I can eat these beans at any time in different ways. I'm glad I had a few pods dry to secure seed for next year. Some eat the entire thing raw when less than 5" long, others wait until they are 7-8" long and steam or stir fry the whole thing. The dried beans can also be cooked like butter beans, but one person says the grey color they turn into isn't appetizing.

Enjoy the photo of these beautiful beans! I'll let you know if I get the courage to eat them.