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Runner bean gluts

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Make the most of your runner beans
Make the most of your runner beans

Enjoying a bean feast

Runner beans are synonymous with gluts, especially in a decent summer. You’re forced into picking them, as once large pods set, the flowering ‘mechanism’ will stop – it’s done its job and set seed.

Unfortunately, they’re easy to get sick of. Here are some ideas to keep the family happy.

Runner beans
Parmesan roast runner beans

Parmesan roast runner beans

  • Allow approximately 6oz (150g) of trimmed beans per person.
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • North Shields smoked garlic sea salt* (or ordinary will do)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Good sprinkling paprika
  • 4-6oz (100-150g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese (Pecorino Romano or Grana Padano will work)

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C, or Gas Mark 7. Line a baking tray with foil. Top and tail the beans, and then put them in a freezer bag.

Pour the oil into the bag, then add the salt, pepper and paprika. Shake the bag to make sure everything is mixed and covered with oil.

Leave the mixture to marinate for 15-20 minutes (or while your oven heats up).

Pour the mixture evenly on to the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Shake the tray again to turn them, then give them another five minutes.

Remove from oven, grate cheese over the top and serve.

*For stockists and more information, log on to www.boulevardcuisine.co.uk.


Runner beans
A glut of runner beans

Roasted runner beans

  • 2lb (1kg) runner beans
  • Enough extra-virgin olive oil to coat beans
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C, Gas Mark 6.

Wash, dry and top and tail beans, removing any strings.

Put beans on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Make sure the beans are evenly coated and spread out into one layer.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans have brown spots – this may sound odd, but they taste great.


Cold roasted runner beans go well in an antipasto
Cold roasted runner beans go well in an antipasto

Antipasto runner beans

It’s a bit of a cheat this one, but one I found by accident. I roasted a massive tin full of runner beans, far too many for us to eat, so I let them cool and put them in the fridge.

Turns out they’re brilliant cold, the flavours really develop, especially on the beans that have been cooked long enough to get brown patches (the sugars inside are caramelising).

They make a lovely antipasto ingredient – serve them with sunblush tomatoes, salami, olives and ciabatta for lunch or a sharing first course.


Runner beans
Drying runner beans

Drying runner beans

If you live in a dry climate, you can let the bean pods mature and dry on the plants, but that’s rarely possible in the UK.

The full-grown pods should turn yellow and dry, but if the weather is damp in October and mould becomes a problem, dig up the whole plant and hang it upside down in a warm place to dry.

I use the paired beans to hang over staging in the conservatory to dry. A word of caution – dried beans have a concentration of the toxin lectin phytohaemagglutinin that must be removed by cooking.

A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least 10 minutes; under-cooked beans may be more toxic than raw ones.

Flatulence caused by beans can be eased by cooking them with summer savory, anise, coriander or cumin.

To reconstitute, remove discoloured and shrivelled beans or debris.


Runner beans
Dried runner beans

The finished product

Put them into a bowl approximately three times the size of the quantity you have to allow for expansion.

Cover with water and leave overnight. Add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda if you live in a hard water area – DO NOT add salt.

When the beans have reconstituted, rinse them thoroughly a couple of times with clean water then cover with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer until they’re soft-ish – start trying them after about an hour.

If they are still hard or gritty, give them another 30 minutes.

Dried beans will keep in an airtight jar for at least a year and you can safely germinate a new crop from two-year-old saved beans.

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Mandy Watson is a freelance journalist and an incurable plantaholic. MandyCanUDigIt grew from the tiny seed of a Twitter account into the rainforest of information you see before you. Gardening columnist for the Sunderland Echo, Shields Gazette and Hartlepool Mail and editor of the Teesdale Mercury Magazine. Attracted by anything rebellious, exotic and nerdy, even after all these years. Passionate about northern England and gardens everywhere. Falls over a lot.