Stringing & Drying Green Beans/Cranberries Tutorial

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)

USE THE CRANBERRIES 'FROZEN'...DO NOT THAW THEM
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 the green beans 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!

3 comments:

  1. Hi Karen! Thanks for the wonderful tutorial on stringing beans and cranberries...I will definitely try this one! I also enjoyed your vacation pictures, especially those from New England, as I was bon and raised in Westwood MA.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Martha - you are so welcome....this is the best time to buy green beans as they are almost finished and are selling for cheap - at least they are near us. Especially the farm markets and flea markets. Like $2.00 for 3 lbs.
      Would love to see a picture when you are finished.
      Karen

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  2. I bought some dried string beans garlands wholesale for my shop . They came from a lady in Kentucky. I love things like that especially the gourds strung. I also purchased a garland of dried black walnuts. People here in Maine aren`t so much into that kind of craft but hopefully it will take off. I also carry dried garlic hung on a string. Thanks for the info on making string bean garlands. It was most helpful and knowledgeable.

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So glad you came to visit - feel free to leave a comment.
I will try and answer as many as I can - maybe not immediately but I will get to you!

Karen