Friday, March 30, 2012

Shuck Beans: An Old Appalachian Tradition

Anybody else ever heard of or grew up eating "shuck" beans? The first time I tasted this unbelievably yummy delicacy was at my in-laws house, and my husband's stepmother (who is from Harlan, Kentucky) had been cooking them all day. She had purchased them at the local farmer's market (you cannot find these at the grocery store) but apparently folks used to make them from pole beans growing in the garden.

Oh. my. goodness. That's one good 'mess' of beans!

These shuck beans were out-of-this-world awesome. Especially delicious with cornbread. I decided I must learn more about where I could get these amazing beans. I quickly learned that shuck beans were an old southern tradition, a type of "greasy" or "half-runner" bean that had been dried in its shuck. Some people use plain old Kentucky Wonder beans too. To dry the beans, thread them with a needle and string them up to dry until they rattle in their shucks. They require a good soaking overnight and the next day they can be cooked down on the stove for at least 5-6 hours or longer with some type of salt pork or bacon. Some people will cook theirs with potatoes or various spices.

All I know is that I cannot wait for my pole beans and greasy beans to start producing so that by autumn I can cook my very first batch of shuck beans. Makes me hungry just thinking about it!





P.S. I will post pictures for you once I've made my first batch! 


18 comments:

  1. Yeah, that's definitely a southern thing. I've never even heard of them!

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  2. Grew up on dried beans and canned beans. During the winter and spring if you want beans it is either canned or dried. I remember sitting out under the cherry tree stringing beans for hours and that was after we had to pick the things. A thimble is a needed after 3-4 hours or accidents start to happen. We normally keep a good supply of both. We are a little short this year and we are planting extra for canning/stringing, not to mention all the other veggies that end up canned around here.

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    1. Sounds like you have a very productive canning/preserving season! I hope to can and preserve a lot more this summer. A will remember to use a thimble when I'm stringing up my beans :)

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  3. Sounds like it takes a lot of time and patience, but the best things in life are worth waiting for. Good luck, look forward to seeing how it turns out.

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  4. I have eatin them before! Very good!

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  5. I've never heard of those...maybe that's because I live in Minnesota though. Hope you have a nice Easter :)

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  6. I grew up on greasy beans! My grandmother still cans them every year. Good info!

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    1. Very cool! I hope to start my family on greasy beans this year! Hope all is well with you :)

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    2. They are called greasy back beans here in Western NC. My husband loves them. I have never been a big "green" bean eater but I think I will try them again, because the older I get the more things I find out I do like after all.

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  7. Just found your blog today and have been reading through. =D I had to comment on the "shuck" beans which we pronounce, shuckee. ;) My grandparents still dry beans for shuck beans. We always have them for Thanksgiving. :) They don't string them though. They lay them out on a concrete sidewalk/patio to dry in the sun. Much much easier!! :)I'm sure they key is to move them around to dry evenly and not let them mold.

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  8. I grew up in southern Indiana. My parents were from Perry County Ky. We also had Shuck Beans growing up.

    We would string the beans. then with a needle we would thread the beans on long string and them tie the string in a loop. We hung the beans over the clothes line each day until they were good and dry.

    Mom stored them in a cotton pillow case in the closet until time to eat.

    This was my favorite food.

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  9. My grandparents and mom were from hazard Kentucky and I sure miss shuck beans! My grandparents use to string them then cut them Abbott 1~2 inches then lady them on 2 clean bed shears on picnic table tho dry in the sun. I believe it took a couple days and they had to mix them around so they dried equally...then they froze them in freezer bags,we always had them for Thanksgiving.they bring back great memories :)

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  10. I love these beans! I'm from Harlan County, KY and mom and grandmother always made these. Add a few new potatoes and fat back. Eat with corn bread and raw onion! Sooo good.

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  11. My favorite food!! Im from Harlan County Kentucky and my aunt used to make the best shuck beans. I havent had them in years but plan on drying and cooking some myself.

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  12. My folks were from Gun Creek, Royalton, Ky. My first memory of "shuck" beans was circa 1950 when I was four. Mom was preparing the pot having done the re-hydrating the dried beans. Being curious four year old I picked up a nice red pepper, which I soon found out was a hot one. Well long story short, the experience set me up to enjoy spicy foods and especially shuck beans. My mother made them for my-to-be wife in the mid-70's, she was from Gloucester, Ma. and she feel in love with them! We have strung our own when we can get the beans from Gun Creek.

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  13. I would like to grow some of my own, to surprise my mother-in-law when I serve them. Can you tell me what sort of bean to grow? My M-I-L just said pole bean, but I grow those now and found that there are many sub-types. Can anyone help me with this? It would be greatly appreciated.

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    1. Tammy I have always heard the best variety to use is white half runners. What a cool idea to surprise your MIL! I am going to post again soon on the actual drying and cooking of shuck beans.

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