An Old-Time Southern Method of Preserving Beans

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PHOTO: FOTOLIA/BLUESTOCK
Pick your green or wax beans when they're tender and snappy. Wash them and snip off the stem end. The other little sharp pointed tip won't matter, so leave it on. Let the beans drain until fairly dry, or at least till the water has dripped off.

If you’d like to try preserving beans (“leather britches”) in an old-time,
way-down-south way, here’s how to do it:

Pick your green or wax beans when they’re tender and
“snappy.” Wash them and snip off the stem end. The other
little sharp pointed tip won’t matter, so leave it on. Let
the beans drain until fairly dry, or at least till the
water has dripped off.

Take a large darning needle and thread it with white store
string. Kite string will do fine. Then thread your beans on
the cord, sticking the needle through the middle of each
bean. I don’t mean down the center of the bean, just
through the center, so both ends of the bean are
loose.

Fasten the first bean by wrapping the string around it and
making a knot so it won’t pull through. Then go on
stringing till your string’s full. Fasten the last bean the
same as the first one.

Dry the beans by hanging on a wire in a clean, dry place.
An attic or unused room would be okay. Or hang them in your
kitchen. They’ll be gab grabbers, for sure! In the
most high fallutin’ magazines you’ll see how decorators
festoon rooms with the most unusual items. All
right–go ahead with your leather britches!

The beans will become dry and wrinkled and you’ll wonder
what in the world you’ll ever do with them, besides just
letting them swing there.

In winter, take your dried beans down–several strings
for a large kettle–and remove the strings. Rinse
well, then put on to cook. When they boil up once, pour off
the first water so you know they’re clean and to remove any
bitter taste. Then pour in fresh water, toss in a ham bone
and an onion to keep the beans company and salt and pepper
to taste. Cook till tender.

You’ll come up with a mighty fine cold weather dish that’ll
stick to your ribs. These beans will remind you of long-ago
years when folks had to preserve much of their
food by drying.

Happy eating!