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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cooking Leather Breeches Beans

Where we are from (the mountains of Virginia) a lot of folks used to enjoy eating leather breeches beans. These beans were considered a treat by many, and some people said they preferred these beans to canned beans. You don't hear a lot about these beans any more, but we were able to acquire an old recipe.

Leather Breeches Beans
To make your beans you would need get down a string of dried green beans, remove your string and drop the beans into a pot of scalding water. (This would probably have been a cast iron pot as in those days people usually used cast iron cookware.) Then you would add a "good hunka meat", which would usually be fat back, pork, or ham. You would cook your beans all morning until they were nice and tender for eating.

Drying Leather Breeches Beans
Now, you can't cook leather breeches beans if you don't know how to dry the green beans. Now it is easier to dry things as there are food dehydrators readily available. But the way my grandmother and her mother used to do it was to take a long string and needle and thread the green beans onto it. They would go through the middle of the bean and push the beans together at the end of the thread. Be sure to knot your string very well so the beans won't slide off. The beans would be hung up in warm air but not in direct sunlight. My grandmother would use her attic to dry her beans and other foods. The attic stayed very warm in the autumn months as heat would rise through the house up into the attic.

Another great benefit to this type of food storage? You save your canning jars for foods that you prefer to eat canned (such as jellies and jams).
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