Wayne Fugate shares an ingenious method to give your hands a break and let your feet do the tedious work of shelling beans for you.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/IGOR YARUTA
Last summer my sore hands and I decided it was time to find an easier way to shell dried beans. I'd heard that letting the beans soak for a couple of hours in a bucket of water would soften the pods and make for more carefree "husking". But summertime on our homestead keeps my family on the move so much that I considered even that method to be too time-consuming. Then I hit upon a solution: Why not take advantage of all that running about and let our feet do the chores?
Now, I simply lay a burlap bag on a flat surface, fill it two inches thick with the dried beans, tie the open end securely, and place the sack on the back porch or on a protected, well-traveled walkway. After just a few days of being trampled underfoot by my family's many comings and goings, the beans are shelled! (I do turn the bag over daily and make sure it stays dry.)
Once all the hulls are beanless, I give the poke a couple of vigorous shakes . . . which causes the beans to shift down to the bottom and leaves the shell pieces to be easily scooped off the top. Next, the pod free legumes are given a good washing and placed in a 135° oven for a couple of hours until they're thoroughly dry. (This also will kill any weevils in the seeds.)
My foot-shelled beans are then ready to be stored in airtight containers. What's more, my hands aren't a bit sore, and I've managed to conserve two of any gardener's most important assets: time and energy!