"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Leather Britches

Leather Britches - sounds like something out of a western movie, but unlike a robust John Wayne they are just dry shriveled beans. Any beans that we do not eat fresh or allow to mature as dried beans for food

or seed as these Scarlet Emperor and Painted Lady runner beans,

are made into leather britches also called shuckey beans. I take tender young green, yellow, and my favorite purple beans and hang them on the porch to dry. This is done by threading them onto string or fishing line. That is where they stay until we need them for soup dishes. They are also good eaten out of hand as I do upon occasion. Often times I will put a handful in my pocket and snack on them during the day and they are especially good on long hikes as they take a while to chew. Are they any good? Well let's just say that they are not too bad and if you were really hungry they would be pretty darn good.

This is the way some beans were stored before all the modern conveniences of today. I am trying to keep in touch with the old ways in case our modern appliance based system fails. That will surely never happen though, will it?


Matron said...

They are so beautiful aren't they? And just so tactile, I love to handle beans.

el said...

I know there are some beans that are meant to be leather breeches beans in that you're supposed to boil up the whole pod to reconstitute it. I've tried with usual green-ish beans as it seemed like a fun thing to do with our four year old but yeck they didn't taste so fantastic despite all the extra bits of wonder I threw in there too. SO I shelled out (hah!) $14 for 2 pkgs of seed of some old-timey variety. Seems extreme but hey that's a lifetime supply, you know? Your beans are beautiful. I love having bags of harvested beans around: gives us something to do in these cold winter days.

Mr. H said...


Yes, both beans and grain are that way.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mr. H said...


No, they are not that great as far as taste goes, but it really is a lost art unless you are from Appalchia.

I would love to hear how your "old time" beans turn out. I usually use Kentucky Wonder pole beans and some purple bush beans. We are a bit limited as to what beans will do well for us. You must be also, I was just looking at your greenhouse pictures...that is a lot of snow.

Here is a good article on leather britches or shuckey (shucky?) beans.


Annnightflyer said...

Leather breeches are mentioned in the Foxfire series as an old time method of drying beans,just a note here lol.

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