Country Lore: Dry-bean Leather Britches

Green beans are the key ingredient in this fragrant dish.
By Doris E. Stebbins
April/May 2004


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When I hear the word "britches," I picture men's trousers, but I learned from a neighbor there is another meaning. We were invited to supper and Mr. Thompson announced, "Maggie will stir up a batch of leather britches, and we'll have a feast."

We sat down to a fragrant, steaming bowl of long green beans topped with butter and bacon. "These are dried green beans," my neighbor said. "In Montana, we string them from wall to wall on heavy twine and let them dry; then we layer them into big jars or crocks. To eat, we soak a meal's-worth in water for a while, add a big chunk of ham, salt pork or bacon, and cook until tender. A meal fit for a king."

Now I plant plenty of 'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans to dry on strings and enjoy all winter, too.

Doris E. Stebbins
Danville, Vermont








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