Thursday, September 12, 2013

Drying Green Beans otherwise known as…

LEATHER BRITCHES…have you ever!!!

Did you ever wonder where it got its name?
Leather Britches Beans or 'Shucky Beans' refers to an antique technique of preserving beans that was closely associated with the American South and particularly the Appalachian region.  Prior to the widespread use of freezing or canning beans were preserved by stringing them on a length of thin twine and then air-drying them over several weeks.  Beans were picked at a stage when the seeds were well developed but the outer hull remained green.  Leather Britches beans were re-hydrated and cooked very slowly in an excess of water containing a wedge of bacon or ham.

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Here is my tutorial for making them for display in your home.
I notice they are being talked about on forums and blogs with Fall approaching.

I made a small garland of them last year and have them hanging on the back of a pie safe.
This was my first attempt at making them so the garland is rather small…being I never made them I didn’t know how to judge how long to make the string to start with.  I also used Cranberries on mine.
gourds for header

Today I started a new one so here’s the steps that I do.

I bought 3 lbs of Green Beans at the farmer’s market
(I have enough left to make 2 more
clusters of beans on the next one I make
Frozen Cranberries – fresh ones are not in season yet.
(Look in the vegetable section of the frozen foods isle)
they will turn mushy and squish if you do.
If you do this when 'fresh' Cranberries are available
they are perfect to use that way as they are 'hard'.

First make sure the stems are off but the
pointed tip is perfect to leave on.
Take a large darning needle and thread it with white
store string - Kite string will do fine.
(I started out this new one with a 60” length of string)

Make a couple of knots right on top of each other –
hope you can see it in this picture.
Then with the string that’s left make a loop and knot it so you have something to hang the garland with – when you are finished you will just make a temporary loop until they are totally dried, then you will knot and loop same as the beginning loop.

knot on string
Thread your beans on the string, sticking the needle through the middle of each bean – not straight down the center of the bean,  just through the center, so both ends of the bean are loose – try not to put the needle through a bean…they tend to be wet and will seep liquid and take longer to dry.
GB needle
(Hopefully you can see the size of the needle)

Green Beans 1

Pierce the Green Bean and slide it all the way to the end
where you have the knots/loop…repeat.
I used 10 Green Beans then 10 Cranberries…
repeated until I got the string filled.

Green Beans 2 

Be careful what you lay your Cranberries on to work with…
they tend to bleed when thawing and pierced.
Green Beans 3 

Green Beans 4 

Green Beans 5 

Find a place to hang them to dry.
(our basement was the best) – they like it dry.
Remember at the beginning the Cranberries may drip a bit.
Green Beans 7

I’m showing you this picture because this is how the
Cranberries got smaller by loosing moisture,
See the space already and this was only about 1/2 hour later.
Green Beans 8 shrinkage 1

And this was about an hour after stringing.
Look at how far down I moved the clusters.
As they dry move the clusters of beans and cranberries closer together.
When totally dry then make the loop at the end.

Green Beans 8 shrinkage 2 

I hope I made this clear…it’s really easy to do
but sometimes being shown makes it clearer.
Enjoy…let me see your creations when you make them…please!

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This morning we went to a rummage sale…AGAIN!
I think I see a pattern happening here!!
I saw something on one of the tables and thought it was
a twin bedspread – but upon opening it up I found
it was a shower curtain and window curtains.
Now I didn’t need a new one for our upper bath
but what we had in there was all white and these had the
Yellow/Blue/Reds in it like the small accents in our guest bath.
Now this bathroom is different than the rest of the house –
it’s rather ‘fun’ but I won’t ever change it because
I need something different in at least one room of the house –
I don’t care for dark bathrooms.
So this one is a beach theme and I like it even more now
because the new items spark it up a lot.

Here’s the older shower curtain/window – nice but a lot of white.
Guest Bath 2

And now….a bit of color
guest bath 1

bathroom rug

bathroom cabinet 2

towels guest bath

Guest Bath 6

Is it a keeper

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I forgot I bought this a couple weeks ago
It is an old Green etched jar – now I know there
was a top to it at one time but I’ve been looking at
different places and can’t seem to find one for it.
I tried to get a good picture so you can see the etching.
Not sure what I’m going to use it for but liked the green.
AND…if you know anything about this type of jar let me know!



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Last week I made two candle mats for Fall
They are for sale if anyone wants one.
….These will be the last items I make….

Pumpkin Tab Candle Mat
12 inches round
Tabs are 3-1/2 inches across
2 different style Pumpkins
Made from all Wool on Army Blanket Wool
(includes shipping)
Pumpkin Candle Mat

Pennies Tab Candle Mat
12 inches round
Tabs are 3-1/2 inches across
Made from all Wool on Army Blanket Wool
(includes shipping)
Pennies Candle Mat

Thanks for visiting with me today…hope to see you again!



  1. Thanks for the tutorial, fascinating. Love your new shower curtain - it really does brighten up that room.

  2. Karen that is a depression glass cracker jar I have my Mothers and grandmothers(have given them to grands now) in pink. Every home had one. I will later get my depression glass book out and see what pattern you have.

  3. Karen ~
    Betty beat me to the answer. I, too, have a similar one missing its lid.
    Thanks for the tutorial. I thought that's how it would be done, but it's always good to know I had the right idea. Now if I find the time ...
    Hugs :)

  4. I have ate many of a "shuck" bean as we call them. We would put them on a sheet in a sunny bright place and let them dry...put them in a jar with lid tight....Love them with cornbread. I love the idea of drying them with the cranberries..It will look beautiful. Your bath looks great! Have a great week. Blessings!

  5. Karen,

    That is depression glass.. I forget the name of that pattern... In my early days of collectind I loved depression glass.. Now I have been selling it off.. Oops... Betty said what it is.. Hugs! OLM

  6. Love the 'leather britches' swag...nice color combo with cranberries. Also love the new, colorful curtains/shower curtain in the bathroom...Not sure about the pretty jar (w/missing lid) but may be a piece of Depression Glass..maybe was a 'biscuit' jar? Oh, Karen, I always love anything you that candle mat too...very unusual shape! Blessings...

  7. Love the 'leather britches' swag...nice color combo with cranberries. Also love the new, colorful curtains/shower curtain in the bathroom...Not sure about the pretty jar (w/missing lid) but may be a piece of Depression Glass..maybe was a 'biscuit' jar? Oh, Karen, I always love anything you that candle mat too...very unusual shape! Blessings...

  8. Hi Karen, About your green jar ... I have one just like it in pink. This is what m grandma told me many years ago. It's a Depression ware Cookie jar. Mine has a lid. Depression ware was very inexpensive and most households in the 30's had some kine of this tableware. I also have a complete set of her luncheon dishes in the green. Hope this helps! Anita
    PS Love the beans, going to make some myself!!

  9. I love your new shower curtain too. Your posts are always so full of goodies. Yes, I have heard of leather breeches. I used to live in Western NC and the folks there dried them every year to eat in the winter. I can't say I ever tasted any after they had been dried and cooked, but I will bet they are yummy. Your garland is beautiful.

  10. Your green jar is a depression glass cookie jar. I cannot tell from the picture if it is one from the 1920's or the 1970's. If it looks more yellowish green and looks like it could glow in the dark, then it is truly from the depression era, otherwise it is a repro from the 70's. It is missing the lid. Thanks for the tutorial on the garland. I was planning on making some leather britches garland and so glad I won't make the mistake of putting the needle through the beans. Janice

  11. I love my beans. So easy to string! I'll have to try rose hips or cranberries in with them next time. What a difference in your bath! You're right - sometimes boring becomes boring!

  12. Evening Karen, love those beans, I want to string some now, thanks for showing us .....the shower curtain is so pretty, looks great.......nice jar, seem to have a thing for them :)and your Fall candle mats are beautiful. Blessings Francine.

  13. Karen, one of my sisters loves shucky beans. I use to help my Momma string them. We used heavy black cotton sewing thread doubled, because it was sturdier, and cheaper! We'd sit and string pan after pan of them, making strings about 30" to 36" long. We hung them on the back porch inside the screen, so they could dry and not mold. The air circulated and helped. I remembered just now, in the winter the strings were hung up on the wall behind the cook stove water jack she cooked on. Out of all us kids reach, but it kept them nice & dry & crisp. Then she'd get them down, cut the string and the beans went into a pot of water to soak, after that they cooked on the far back burner for hours until they were tender. My Momma loved them too. Thanks for the memory jog!

    I love the changes to your bathroom, just love the colors, it looks like an old quilt.

    Your mats look great too!
    Love seeing your posts.

  14. Being from the South, I actually have heard of leather britches. 'Love the Depression glass. Mother has a lot of it in ruby red and emerald green and sapphire blue. The new bathroon make-over looks so bright and airy :)

  15. Hello dear I love those beans..looking so swert...
    the shower curtain is so pretty, looks great.......sweet and your Fall candle mats are beautiful..I love them from my heart.
    Huge hugs x

  16. Hi Karen~ You always amaze me with all of your new creations and decorating, knowing all that you go through with your pain issues.
    I have never heard of the leather britches, my grandmother always canned her beans.(She was from the north)
    I think I may give the garland a try, I like the look of it and it seems to be quite easy.
    As for you new shower curtain, I love it. I actually have had the same one for years.I have my own private bath now and I even have pink towels and rugs. I know girly! But we have always only had one bathroom with all of the children so a girly bathroom is a treat.

  17. Hi Karen...thanks for the tutorial...may have to give this a try. Love your beach cheery and colorful!
    Hope you are feeling well these days. Have a great weekend.

  18. Can't wait to try the garland many thanks for the tutorial x

  19. Very nice & fun tutorial. The shower curtain and window curtains are perfect with the rug and prints. Not Primitive but pretty country style that still keeps the room bright and cheery.

  20. Hi Karen, I love your header with the gourds. Love the tutorial on the
    leather britches swag! Love the green edged jar. And your new shower curtain and curtain is lovely. I really have a weakness with curtains and shower curtains. Love your beautiful candle mats, you are just so talented. hugs, Lecia

  21. Thank you so much for sharing the green bean/cranberry garland directions. I am going to try this. I love your bathroom. Your home is so beautiful. Show more fall decoration pics that you have. Beautiful, just beautiful.

  22. I may have some old beans in the garden I can dry great idea. Love the shower curtain.
    pretty candle mats.

  23. I've got some leather britches. I love the added cranberries. I love the pumpkin candle rugs! Now I'm gonna have to try making some leather britches garlands. Thanks!

  24. I hate green beans, dried or otherwise. My mother foundered us on green beans. Every meal seemed to have them and us four kids had to eat them. When I got older I vowed to never eat one again and sorry but cannot even think of drying them for a garland either. Can't stand the smell. lol!
    Great find on the shower curtain. Looks nice.
    I have one bedroom in my house which is different from the rest. It is where I actually have pink dishes which my mother gave to me. I have even started a rose and brown quilt to go in the room with them!

  25. What a wonderful posting, Karen.. Loved your garland with the cranberries. I must do this..
    I have the same depression glass container as yours.. I wonder if it is a biscuit jar.. Not sure..
    Love love the new curtains...
    Take care, my friend..xo

  26. Thanks so much for the tutorial Karen! Your new shower curtain looks nice! :)

  27. Hi Karen, Your tutorial was great, I think I can do this with my garden string beans.
    I love your new candle mats, they are darling.

    Your depression glass jar is known by a few different names, Cameo, Ballerina or Dancing Girl. I checked my depression glass collectors encyclopedia.

    Hope you're feeling better after your two surgeries.

  28. Love the new bathroom decor, it turned out really well.
    Thanks for the tutorial, I have been wanting to try making some leather britches and this is a bit more inspiration.


  29. Ohhh! LUV, LUV, LUV the Leather Britches--can't wait to make one! And the curtains in the bath are Fab! I like the green Depression Glass Cannister, too. Linda

  30. I would like to string just cranberries for my christmas tree but I guess it would take bunches and bunches if they shrink

    Love your new bathroom look.


  31. Upper Deck in Cape Cod sells the repro depression glass biscuit jars and other forms. Don't know if yours is truly an antique, but it looks like ones I've seen from Upper Deck. You might try contacting them and seeing if they have any spare tops floating around the warehouse.


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