So, before clearing away the vines and wigwams, I asked UK Veg Gardeners for advice and Elaine (truly a Woman of the Soil if ever there was) recommended cutting off the plant at ground level and, preferably, hanging the whole plant upside down in a garage until dry. As this method was impractical for me (small flat, no garage, dampish shed), I left the plants and pods in-situ which seemed to work quite well. (Probably due to mild weather.) As the vines died back, the pods turned yellow and dry-ish which is what's needed. I picked them before the drizzling weather started a few days ago and have had them finishing off indoors in my nice warm kitchen, laid out flat across those wire trays usually used for cooling cakes.
When the pods become dry and crispy, that's the time to shell the beans. They reminded me of something mummified, perhaps to be found in the Ancient Egyptian section of the British Museum!
But I digress. A twist of the pod will snap it open and inside the almost dry beans are waiting to be pushed out with a finger or thumb.
(I think perhaps mine wouldn't have had that orange "belly button" if they'd been dried more swiftly indoors.)
The outer pods can be chucked onto the compost and the beautiful beans must be spread out on trays to further dry for a few days. A warm airing cupboard is ideal but anywhere indoors will do. Once that's done, and you're sure the beans are thoroughly dry, put them in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place until needed. The beans will need soaking overnight before using, then drained, rinsed, topped up again with water and boiled vigorously for 10 minutes before simmering until tender - or keep a few back to sow back into the veg patch or garden next year. (If this whole thing doesn't work, the beans can be strung onto a long string and used as decoration; it might look rather jolly strung around a christmas tree instead of loathsome plastic tinsel. Apologies to anyone who likes tinsel. )
|Hmm, just like pebbles on a beach...|