Borlotti beans and French beans can both be dried out on the stalk before being podded and stored, but we’d urge you to read this first to make sure they store well, without going mouldy. It’s not exactly rocket science, but there’s nothing more irritating than getting it wrong only to find that your beautiful beans are no longer beautiful when it comes to cooking them!
- Let them dry on the stalks for as long as possible. Harvest them during a dry spell and when the outer pod is dry and papery. You should be able to hear the beans rattling around inside them.
- Leave them to dry further in their pods for a week or so. If you have an aga, this is ideal as you can dry them on racks next to or on the aga and they’ll dry out beautifully. If you don’t have this luxury, then spread them out on trays and leave them in a warm, dry room. You may need to leave them a little longer.
- Once you’re sure the pods have fully dried you can open one or two up to check the beans inside. If you can dig a thumbnail into the bean, they’re not dry enough.
- To pod them, you may prefer not to do it one by one (it can be laborious!) A great alternative is to bundle them all into an old pillowcase and smash them against the floor a few times. When you then have a look in the pillowcase you’ll hopefully see that the pods have opened and the beans have fallen to the bottom. The beans are heavier than the pods so will sink to the bottom making it easy for you to then separate them.
- Once podded, pop the beans on a tray and, if you can see lots of “bits” then give them a blast with a hairdryer (do this outside) and all the little bits will blow away leaving you with a nice clean tray of beans that can be stored in a jar until you’re ready to cook with them.