Written by Siena Kaplan
Virginia, Allie and I have been spending a lot of our time lately shucking beans. The
garden’s put to bed, the wood is stacked, the berry bushes are pruned and mulched, and
the goats are settled into the barn for winter. We take the goats on a daily walk through
the woods to a field where they can forage on the edges, run around, and generally cause
chaos. I find excuses to cook more often, to salvage the last vegetables in the garden and
take advantage of all the lamb, pork and veal that’s delivered itself into our freezers. But
there are a lot of spare moments, especially on “wintry mix” days, and in those moments
we sit in the kitchen and shuck beans.
In October, we pulled the bean plants out of the garden, to save them from the rain. For a month they decorated the inside of the Quonset hut we use to store our hay, where Allie artfully hung them to dry along the metal beans. I’d take a pod down every once in a while when I was in there, open it up and push my thumbnail into a bean. If you can see any kind of mark, it’s not dry enough yet.
Finally, with a rainy period coming and most of the beans dry, Virginia spent some afternoons in the hut filling bushel baskets with pods, and brought them into the kitchen.
They sit in the corner until there’s a morning or afternoon when there’s little to do. Then we pull chairs around a basket and shuck. The pods are so dry that they just about pop open when you squeeze them. We have kidney beans, little black beans, and calypso beans. Allie and I still haven’t gotten over how pretty the calypso beans are. They’re an heirloom bean also known as Ying Yang or Orca beans, for obvious reasons. I cooked some in some lamb broth with some vegetables, and they still look very pretty, although they faded a lot.