A while ago I wrote about how I am trying out some new varieties of vegetables in our garden this year. One of the new ones is a bean that goes by the name of Asparagus beans, or yard long beans. They aren’t really a yard long; more like eighteen inches. Still they are pretty impressive compared to the usual pole bean. I posted a photo of the vines before they started producing here.
The first dilemma I found with these beans was how to tell when to pick them. They grow long in a matter of days! The first ones I picked were a little too new, they felt sort of flabby and didn’t have any seeds developed inside of them. They were okay, but I found that the beans are much tastier when they are a little more developed.
There seems to be a window of a day or two when the pods are just right. Sort of a Goldilocks thing, I guess. Too young and they are insipid and flabby (not to mention skinny!), too old and the pods are fibrous and the seeds too developed. Asparagus beans are a variety of cowpea and when the seeds are past the perfect stage they look like this fresh out of the pod (the pod was too tough to use – a day late, I guess…):
The single seed at the top of the bowl is from a “just right” pod.
The beans, as I have discovered are quite prolific! Despite the ants and their aphid herds, my vines are doing quite well! I am actually able to not only have plenty for our dinners but enough to blanch and freeze for later. I just dunk them in boiling water for three minutes, cool them off with cool water,put them in freezer bags and freeze them.
Here is a photo of what I picked today. I had already started to break some of them up to blanch and freeze when it occurred to me to write about them.
By the way, I put a US quarter next to them to show just how long the pods are. The light green pod near the top of the bunch is the “past its prime” bean. All of the beans in the bowl above came from it. Wish I had some hens to eat the part that is too tough for us!