With their meandering vines, verdant leaves and bright red blossoms, scarlet runner beans make a stunning floral display in the garden. To keep the vines blooming, pick and eat these versatile bean pods. Cook young bean pods as you would any green bean, or allow the pods to develop fully and dry. Then shell the bean seeds and cook them as dried beans.
Dried Runner Beans
Storing Dried Beans
- Allow the bean pods to mature on the vine, then pick the pods and shell the dried bean seeds. Discard the dry pods. The large dried beans are dark colored, often with lighter purple splotches, and they are shaped similar to lima beans.
- To ensure that the beans are completely dry for storage, spread them on a dehydrator tray and dry them on a low setting. You can also preheat the oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and place a shallow pan of the beans in the center of the oven, stirring them at least every hour.
- Remove the beans as soon as they are completely dry and brittle. Allow them to cool. then pack them into airtight containers for storage.
Cooking Dried Beans
- To cook dried scarlet runner beans, wash the dried beans, then soak them in water for several hours. Drain and replace the water every two hours. Soaking shortens the cooking time.
- After soaking, place the runner beans in a pot of fresh water. Heat the water to boiling. Simmer the beans about 45 to 60 minutes or until they are soft.
- Season the beans any way you wish and use them in chili or rice medleys, soups or Mexican dishes. Substitute them for any bean, especially red beans, kidney beans or black turtle beans.
- Many varieties of dried beans and legumes naturally contain varying concentrations of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin. Thorough cooking for at least 10 minutes at temperatures above 176 F will break down the compound so the beans are safe to eat.
- Slow cookers may not reach or sustain high enough temperatures to destroy the compound. You can remedy this easily by cooking the beans on the stovetop first, then adding them to slow cooker dishes.
You can freeze cooked dried runner beans. Package the cooked, cooled beans in 1-cup or 2-cup quantities and label them with the date and the quantity. Simply thaw the beans, and they are ready to use in your favorite dishes.
Fresh Runner Beans
Pick and wash the bean pods. Trim both ends of the pods, pulling the strings along each edge to remove them. Scarlet runner pods are fairly large, and mature pods become tough. Discard any that are not crisp but tender enough to snap easily when you bend them. Prepare the bean pods as you would other green beans. They hold their shape and retain their texture during cooking, so they are candidates for slow cooking with new potatoes, onion wedges and chunks of smoked ham.
French Cut Beans
Scarlet runner bean pods are flat, so you can run them through a French-cutter to make long strips that cook quickly. Steam the strips or simmer them in a small amount of water with a crushed garlic clove or finely shredded sweet onion.
Leave small bean pods whole for stir-frying, or cut longer, tender pods into bite-sized pieces. Drain the pods or use a salad spinner to remove as much water as possible to prevent hot oil splatters.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large skillet.
Add a crushed clove of garlic to the hot oil and stir for about one minute.
Place about 1 pound of prepared bean pods in the oil and garlic, stirring constantly to prevent scorching.
When the beans turn bright green and are hot throughout, add about 1 tablespoon of soy sauce to the wok. Stir quickly to coat the beans and serve immediately.
Green Beans Almondine
Steam 1 pound of young, tender pods for about 6 minutes, then plunge them into cold water.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large skillet and add 1/2 cup of blanched, slivered almonds and a medium diced onion. Cook and stir until the onion is translucent and the color of the almonds changes to golden brown.
Drain the beans and combine them with the onions and nuts in the skillet. Toss the mixture until the beans are heated through, then season to taste. Serve classic Green Beans Almondine to dress up everyday meals or to accompany a special dinner.