Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another kind of harvest - saving seeds

I have been drying some seeds on a plate, tomatillo seeds and beans.  The beans are Aunt Ida's Italian Pole Beans, and they are my favorite bean ever!  When I see ads that talk about the "beany" flavor of beans, I think to myself, "Well, what are they supposed to taste like?  Beans are beans!"  While there are differences between Italian flat beans, French mini filets and the ubiquitous Blue Lake beans, they are all good and they all taste like beans.

And then there is Aunt Ida's Italian pole beans.  Oh, yes, now that is beany!  I just can't get enough of them.  Frozen beans - ugh!  Canned beans, tolerable but a whole different animal, in my humble opinion.  So the joy of those few weeks in the summer when I can gorge on Aunt Ida's is appreciated, remembered and anticipated as the wheel of the year rolls around.

I save my seeds.  Beans are so easy to save - just let the pods dry on the plant, bring them inside, shell and store.  A few years ago I discovered instructions for making seed packets, a sort of origami type envelope that you can make out of scraps of paper.  I usually find myself rooting through the waste basket in my office when I need another envelope.  The instructions were quite clear, I realized, once I had finally succeeded in making one envelope.  Talk about trial and error!!  This pic shows the left hand side finished, the right hand side still open so that I can insert the beans.

Then once the beans are safely inside, the right hand side is secured and the beans are tucked in until next June, when they will travel back down to my garden.  Here is a pic of the beans going into the envelope.

You can see the tiny tomatillo seeds on the top of the plate, kind of behind the envelope.  Aunt Ida's seeds are the big fat tan ones on the plate.  And that reminds me - most beans don't taste all that great boiled or steamed once the seeds start to expand - if you can see the outline of the seed in the bean, then they are past their prime.  Not so with Aunt Ida's.  The seeds lend their own spectacular flavor to the beans.  They are still good to steam when they are fat with seeds!

And here is the picture of the finished envelope of bean seeds, along with my Thanksgiving Day greeting to you.  There will be no time for blogging tomorrow.  I'm cooking up a storm already, and it will be frantic tomorrow.  I hope everyone has a wonderful day, filled with family, laughter, minimal family tension, and pumpkin pie!

Happy Thanksgiving from the chickens, three dogs, one cat, eight milk cows, one happy bull, three heifers, three calves, and me, the Accidental Farmer.

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