Yesterday I went out into the garden for my usual check on things, and was astonished to find that my green beans were absolutely LOADED! I had no idea they were ready! So, obviously that determined what I would be doing for the rest of the day. Fortunately, it was early in the morning and the sun hadn’t come out in its full fury yet. It has been in the triple digits for the past few days, which means we haven’t been outdoors very much.
I elicited Jada’s help with the picking, since she helped me plant one of the rows. I figured it would be rewarding to her to see how her little seeds turned into productive plants. She actually really enjoyed filling her bag with beans, but after a while it just became too hot. With a sweaty, red cheeked face she finally said to me, “Mommy, I’m going to go inside now. It’s too hot.” I told her, “Okay baby, you just do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Go get some ice water. I’ll pick your side.” So she went inside to cool off. A little while later she came back out with a tall mug full of ice water and handed it to me, saying, “Here you go Mommy. You sure are working hard and you look so hot!” I thought that was awfully sweet of her to think of me.
I am SO PLEASED with this year’s harvest so far!! It is definitely the best I’ve ever had. Last year, the Mexican Bean Beetles just devoured everything, and although my plants produced a lot of beans, most of them were all spotted with holes from the bugs. This year, my beans are almost all perfect. Every here and there I’ve found a couple of small places where a bug has chewed, but honestly it has been very little damage, and most of my beans have no bites at all.
I’ve sprinkled my plants with wood ashes about three times this year, when I noticed any beetles on my the leaves. I really think that helped a ton. I also mulched with wood chips, which seems to have helped the plants to be healthier and able to withstand some abuse.
I did, however, discover several of these yellow critters on the undersides of my green bean leaves as I was picking. I plucked them off as I came across them, and dropped them into a bowl to feed to the chickens. They are the larvae of Mexican Bean Beetles, and they’re starting to do a lot of damage to the leaves of my bean bushes. Which means I probably need to sprinkle my plants with ashes again to see if that helps. I’m also gonna have to get out there and pick off as many of these as I can find as often as possible so they don’t ruin a second harvest.
As I gathered the beans, I lifted each individual plant to make sure there weren’t any big beans hiding under the leaves anywhere. When I was satisfied that I’d picked all of the ripe ones I could find, I carried my load in.
Here’s my first harvest from this year’s crop. There are still a lot more smaller beans waiting to fill out yet. I really need a kitchen scale, I’d love to know how many pounds this is! I’m guessing it’s about four or five gallons, maybe?
The kids wanted to help me break the beans, which I was happy to let them do! We snapped the ends off, broke the beans into bite sized pieces, and sorted them into proper bowls. At first I didn’t think Xia (my almost three year old) was old enough to understand the process, but she kept begging to help! Finally, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to see if she could do it, so I washed her hands and sat her at the table with us. Ty and I broke the tips off of the green beans for her, and kept her well stocked with a nice pile of beans to break. Since it didn’t really matter what size the pieces were, I didn’t care too much if she broke them a little big or a little too small. And she LOVED being able to help.
Since my closet is still well stocked with the green beans I canned last year, I wanted to do some experimenting this time around. So, I tried something new, a Curried Green Beans Canning Recipe.
I really fumbled through the preparations, though! At first I ran out of wine vinegar, and had to substitute white vinegar instead. Then I realized I was out of curry powder half way through the recipe, and had to make my own. And then I didn’t have the ground fennel to make the curry powder, and decided I’d go out and pick some fresh fennel and chop it up to use in place of the spice! What the heck is ground fennel made from anyways… the bulb, the leaves, or the seeds? On top of all that, I didn’t have cardamom either, so I subbed equal parts of cinnamon and nutmeg. Don’t you just hate realizing you’re out of something right in the middle of a recipe?! I don’t know how much of a difference my substitutions made, but the beans still tasted yummy!
My only concern with this recipe is that it doesn’t require canning, really. It seals as it cools. Which I know isn’t recommended, but I was afraid if I processed it in the canner it would end up being mushy or the taste would be off. What do you think? I decided to just put the sealed jars in the fridge, since these green beans are supposed to be eaten as a cold side anyways. If we like them well enough to make again, I’ll probably raw pack the green beans instead of cooking them, add the spices to each jar, and pressure can them. We’ll see.
*Update: We’ve decided we don’t really like the curried green beans after all. This one’s not a keeper in our home.
Next it’ll be Dilly Beans. I’ve never had them, but everyone says they’re delicious!
Do you have a favorite way of canning green beans, other than just salt and water? Do you add anything special for flavoring? Or maybe a favorite way to cook them fresh?
I’m so happy to finally have enough of my own beans for a few canning sessions!! Yay for progress!