I can’t imagine a garden without beans. It’s unthinkable. My favourite vegetable – green beans when they’re still thinner than a pencil – so yummy. This year, and in previous years, we’ve grown three colours of snap bean: purple, green, and yellow. We like to mix the colours. The purple ones turn green when cooked, but it’s a darker shade of green than the green beans, so there’s still this variegated sort of look to the pile of beans on the dinner plate.
The purple beans also serve a useful function when freezing beans. Blanching them first is a required step; usually they’re boiled for a minute or two to halt the enzymatic processes within the beans so they last longer in the freezer. If you have a few purple beans in the pot, you will know when they’ve been blanched long enough because the purple ones turn green. Handy dandy.
Because I like my green beans skinny, it’s easy to miss the perfect picking stage. But the beans don’t go to waste. If they get too big, I let them keep going until they are big and bulgy – and from there they will dry out and become the dry bean seeds that you see in the photo at the top. My girls helped me shell these from their dry flaky pods, and the cat decided the old dry pods make great pounce toys. It was a family event, saving these seeds. And next year it will most likely be a family event planting them again in the garden.
We planted all three bean colours, which means that the seeds from them will not necessarily produce according to their parent types due to cross-pollination. In previous years after planting the mix, I’ve gotten green beans with purple flecks! Fun. We call them ‘surprise me beans’ because you never know what you’re going to get. Normally I could tell you that the black and brown mottled seeds will produce green beans, and the pale violet-coloured seeds will produce purple beans. However, since they’re not true seeds, they could be any one of purple, green, or yellow – or maybe something else. Like violet. We had those one year too!