The Best Way to Dry Peas and Beans
There are many different methods of drying peas and legumes, but some are more effective than others. In fact, there is a great way of drying both to great effect.
Got your attention? I have discovered the best way to dry beans and peas for your pantry.
String ’em up
Now, pod beans have got their name due to the fibrous “string” that runs along the seam of the bean pod. That said, it is very funny that the best way to dry these beauties is, in fact, on a string.
I learned this technique a few decades ago when I first discovered the Foxfire book series. Until then, I would just collect the cooked beans and let them dry in the basket until they were quite ready.
Nuh. Much better way.
By tying the beans on a cord and hanging them to dry, air is circulated around them. This prevents any of them from poking under the basket or hanging lattice.
That one mold bean can contaminate the whole batch! Anyone who has eaten and then lost a bunch of them to rot knows how devastating it can be.
So, let us hang these beans.
what you’ll need:
- Cotton wool
- Dear needle
- Fully ripe beans, still in their pods
- Do this once hanging in a warm, dry place
- Hammer and nail or hook to hang them
Set hanging space
If you haven’t pierced your drying area yet, do it now. Grab that hammer, and put some nails or hooks wherever you plan to hang these beans.
It will require a warm, dry place away from direct sunlight, but still gets some decent ventilation and airflow.
I hang the mine inside a large, barn-type shed that I own on the property, but a dry attic space or spare room would be fine. Do not hang them in the kitchen, because cooking with steam and such will slow down the drying process.
If you live in a fairly dry climate, you can also hang them outside. Just make sure you hang them somewhere like the north direction of the house. Otherwise, they will cook or shrink in the afternoon sun.
Go back to the nails or hook: Aim to separate them by one leg (12 so) or more. It will accommodate the most regular sized beans, with plenty of space for air to flow around it. If you have been growing bean varieties for a long time, then definitely add a little more space.
Choose bean and pea pods that are elastic and juicy in the pod, as they are getting a bit closer to drying on the vine. You can repeat this task throughout the season, so grab as many ripe pods as you are going now.
Measure a thread or string about four feet strong, because you are going to double it. Thread your favorite needle, and tie the string loops with a double or triple knot.
Stabbed one of the needles through the middle section of one of the pods. Motivate yourself to thread it between the bean “seeds”, because you don’t want to split any of them. The needle should slide easily through the skin of the pod, but if it is being stubborn, you can push it slightly as you push it.
Repeat this process with the next bean or pea; Only this time, you will first thread it on that string at an opposite angle. Basically, you are making a cross or plus sign with a pod.
Keep changing directions along the pod until they are all threaded. This photo is a great example of the effect you should aim for.
Close the trade end of the string or thread you are using, and cut the needle free. Then tie a loop with a double knot, and hang your threaded pod masterpiece! Repeat this process until all your legumes and peas are hanging and swinging fast.
Let them dry like this for at least a month. You will find that they have dried enough when the pods are brown, and if you break one of the two, you have a satisfying crunch on your hands.
A note about split peas
Do you know that people who use “split peas” in soups are the same species as regular peas? This is true! The difference is in how they dry and are processed.
If you want to store a lot of split peas for winter soup, your drying method will be slightly different. You can still string those pea pods and hang them to dry. The difference is that you will dry them for two to three weeks instead of only four to six.
When the pea pods start to dry properly, take them down. Pop the inner pea seeds from the pod, and transfer them to the mesh hanging dryer net. Make sure that the zip is closed so that no critters can go near them. Then, you will want to hang them in a nice, warm, dry place with good ventilation.
As these peas dry up, they will split their natural seam down, in the middle. Allow them to dry well for a few weeks and then store as needed.
Best storage methods
Depending on your personal preferences, there are a few different storage methods that you can use.
The old-time Southern method is to store these dried pods in paper bags or burlap sacks, until you are ready to use them. This method is great because the outer dry pod remains dry and crunchy, which in turn also keeps the inner seed dry.
Others hang them where they belong until they want to use them. Provided that they are out of the way and whenever they walk through the room, do not hit anyone in the face, this method is fine.
The downside to both of these is that paper bags, burlap and free-hanging can all be accessed by mice. Unless you have good nets or some excellent cats around, you can very well lose mice during the winter.
My favorite storage method is to get all the dry peas and beans out of their shells and transfer them to a glass mason jar. To avoid the above fuzz they need to dry completely when this happens.
Since rodents cannot bite through glass, there is no chance of munching them on my purple podded beans or heirloom peas when I am not looking.
I would recommend you try a couple of different ways that you like the best. If you decide to hang them, though, I would recommend putting those squirrel-proof cones on top: the way you hang on bird feeders, so the squirrel doesn’t eat all the seeds.
They want to hang on to the ground, but want to keep the rats out.
How to use dried peas and beans
When you are ready to cook something with the beans, open the dried pods and press the dried seeds into a clean bowl or pot, which has a tight-fitting lid.
Remember that they will swell up to at least twice their size if not more. As a result, use only what you think you will need, so nothing goes waste.
Pour boiling water over them, cover the pot with a lid, and soak overnight (or at least 12 hours). Then, dry the ingredients, rinse them thoroughly, and use them in your recipe.
For split peas, however, the method is also slightly different. Since they are split in half, their cooking time is reduced dramatically.
You do not have to soak them in advance: just use a traditional split pea soup or stew that has been made according to the recipe you mentioned. Typically, they will prepare the tenderness for cooking within two hours.
Remember to do something to plant later
As a final note, if you discover a bean or pea variety that you really like, remember to plant some of them next season. It would be really disappointing to cook them all and then realize that there is no time left to sow!
I try to set aside about 10% of my crop for sowing next season. This allows sufficient excess for failure or predation of germination, while ensuring that a lot of plants survive to produce another bumper crop.
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