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Spilling the Beans

Richard Bell’s Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Sunday, 19th October 2008


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IT AMAZES ME that, even in mid-October, we can wander down the garden and harvest produce. The greenhouse is something of a mildewed mess by now but, with the days of sun we’ve had this last week, tomatoes are still ripening. Even when we end up with green ones, they’ll come in for chutney and, perhaps, a green tomato soup recipe that Barbara came across. Two or three cucumbers are still hanging on to their straggly vines.

Borlotti beans are a wonderful crop; we’ve been eating them since July, initially like a runner bean (but they never go stringy), then, as the pods go redder and fill out, we open them and use the fresh, plump beans. Finally, when the pods go brown and dry, you can store them for the winter. Gather the pods when they’re nearly dry but before they split, spilling the beans. Bring them into the house and put them in a basket. You’ll occasionally hear them splitting as they dry out and twist, releasing the beans.


The beans are fairly dry by then and Barbara put them in the storage jar (what would we do without Ikea?! I can’t resist those storage jars), although she initially left the rubber-sealed lid off to let them dry out a little more.


Borlotti’s are now Barbara’s favourite bean and she’s suggesting not bothering with runners next year and growing two wigwams of them. We can use all we grow.


“They’re decorative,” she says, “like little birds eggs, speckled with red.”


They went well with pork is yesterday’s casserole.