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!