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Bluejay77

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In my experience, the qualities that make a good snap bean are fickle. Even a cross between two good snap beans can produce an F1 of inferior quality. When I first began saving bean seed, I planted all of my beans together. I had a cross occur between Fortex and Kentucky Wonder #191, that was flat-podded, and fibrous to the point where it was inedible. A cross between a stringed but tender heirloom, and a stringless but hulled snap bean probably would not turn out well.

To those on this forum who grow bean crosses (segregations) do you sample the results as snaps? If so, what results have you experienced?

I guess I got lucky with my Blue Jay. When I found the beans outcrossed seeds for the first time in 1977 in Comtesse De Chambord. CDC was surrounded for several seasons with modern commercial varieties. Blue Jay wound up stringless and according to Canadians who grow the bean a lot, of good flavor and very productive for a bush bean. One thing I found out about Blue Jay I hadn't known for years is that there was a Canadian company selling Blue Jay to it's customers that were all using it as a dry bean. They didn't realize it had snap bean use. I tried Blue Jay as a dry bean and sure enough it does make a decent dry bean too.

Last summer I cooked up and ate the heirloom snap bean Buckskin Girl. I found it to be a nice stringless bean. I also tried a number of Robert Lobitz's snap beans. They too were all stringless. I grow my stringless snap beans in a plot only with other stringless snap beans. I will continue testing more of them each season.
 
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flowerbug

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Well now....I don’t think you’ve lived a full life lessen you’ve sat in front of the TV with a dishpan full of snaps to string. Hahahaaa. Which by the way is completely different from .....

A few years back I took a big pan full and strung them with needle & thread to make leather britches. I was extremely impressed with the results.

the versions of those were mentioned to me to be greasy type beans where the full pods are still edible. i've grown several greasy beans over the years and they were ok when they did produce but i had such variable results with them that i've passed them along to others.

i really needed to get back to what i was after and to improve my base stock of material that i'm working from for improvements.

this season is already getting off to an "odd" start, it being both cooler and also very dry so my plans of starting to plant this next week may be delayed by further frost warnings. i wanted to try to get some of the previous beans where they might like a longer cool season to see if that makes any improvement in results.
 

flowerbug

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I guess I got lucky with my Blue Jay. When I found the beans outcrossed seeds for the first time in 1977 in Comtesse De Chambord. CDC was surrounded for several seasons with modern commercial varieties. Blue Jay wound up stringless and according to Canadians who grow the bean a lot, of good flavor and very productive for a bush bean. One thing I found out about Blue Jay I hadn't known for years is that there was a Canadian company selling Blue Jay to it's customers that were all using it as a dry bean. They didn't realize it had snap bean use. I tried Blue Jay as a dry bean and sure enough it does make a decent dry bean too.

Last summer I cooked up and ate the heirloom snap bean Buckskin Girl. I found it to be a nice stringless bean. I also tried a number of Robert Lobitz's snap beans. They too were all stringless. I grow my stringless snap beans in a plot only with other stringless snap beans. I will continue testing more of them each season.

almost every bean i've grown works at least ok as a dry bean - but i am not super picky about them compared to other people.

once i get done harvesting and sorting out the rejects i'll often cook up batches of beans from the rejects and even try to make very small batches of single types if i have enough and then eat them to see if they work. almost always they're either good or ok.

last year i tried to increase my edible shelly skills and figured out that many beans i didn't think were that great as shellies, if i cooked them longer, were just fine and edible enough.

i guess my question would be to the bean people would be which beans have you found to be unacceptable as a dry bean (and why)? :)
 

Ridgerunner

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To those on this forum who grow bean crosses (segregations) do you sample the results as snaps? If so, what results have you experienced?
I used to but now I don't bother until they stabilize. It's not one of my selection criteria. I just want some of these darn things to stabilize.

My limited experience. One of the many segregations of the Will Bonsall #27's I got from Russ made a good snap bean. It was stringless which is nice but that doesn't make it a snap bean. When cooked it was not woody at all, very tender. I liked the flavor but as far as I'm concerned the flavor depends on the person eating it. When I was cooking a pot of regular snap beans I'd include a pod that was not snapped. The long pod was the one I was testing.

That bean kept segregating. I tested a couple of the segregations, not snap bean material at all. I call it woody, I don't know what the right term is. Instead of being tender it's more like chewing straw, very fibrous, not something I'd want to swallow.

i guess my question would be to the bean people would be which beans have you found to be unacceptable as a dry bean (and why)
I've never identified one but I don't experiment a lot. At the end of the season I usually mix all the rejects and use them mixed, sometimes in soup, sometimes in chili. I've never seen anybody spitting a bean out.

I think there are at least two things to consider in this. We all have different preferences and tastes. For some people texture may be really important, for some it's more flavor. Some people's tastes are more delicate than others. Mine are pretty rough and coarse. If somebody askes me about a certain sauce at a restaurant I might say it is good or it is OK. My sister-in-law can tell you what herbs and spices went into it and do a really good job of replicating it when she gets home.

Another thing is how you use it. Different recipes may call for a specific bean. A bean that is good for refried beans may not be as good for red beans and rice. Or chili. Or soup.

With a snap bean I can tell you if you can chew it up or not. I don't know if you will like the flavor.
 

flowerbug

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...
With a snap bean I can tell you if you can chew it up or not. I don't know if you will like the flavor.

i agree with all your points, but to me this last part is what i consider the main one for any bean used as a fresh eating bean. if it gets chewy and fibrous too quickly then it isn't a good snap bean. it has to be able to reach full size and hang time can't be too short (a week to ten days is acceptable to me).

of course the matter of personal tastes and requirements is very important, but to me plain old "edible" is often good enough.

the more tick marks on the check list of useful i can get the better.

we don't can beans here so we're ok with thin and more delicate beans instead of the thicker kinds that will hold up to being canned. i also means that i don't care how straight the beans are, but for some people they want them straight and uniform in size for canning.

for me i want them to be edible standing right there in the garden as i pick. i want them to steam up quickly when cooked (8-10 minutes), and for them to be good when cooked in soups (hardly ever use them this way as we normally eat them steamed with just a bit of butter on them).

once they get beyond fresh or snap bean eating or using in soups then if they can be used as shellies is important other use. normally this can be another week or two before they start drying down all the way.

then of course as a dry bean to be cooked up later.

other aspects we appreciate are things like growth habit and color of the flowers. we really like purples and pinks for the flowers.

and another big factor is how easy to shell out the dry beans or shellies - related to this is how many beans are dragging in the dirt or spoiled (pick more as shellies and you won't lose as many to rot is one tip i've learned).
 

flowerbug

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While diddle dallying around, I came across a couple new to me beans. Search these and tell me whatcha think.

Blue Shackamaxon pole bean
Worchester Indian Red Lima
Monachelle Di Trevio

if the Red Lima is heat and drought tolerant then that is a good thing for your location. a bit of shatter just means to pick it before it gets to that stage. so far all lima's i've had are good as shellies and as a dry bean.

no opinions on the other two, i can't be tempted by pole beans. i have enough challenges already. :) i have to be very selective for now until things change.
 

Zeedman

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For me, cowpeas (and yardlongs, which are a sub-species) are less prone to crosses than Phaseolus beans. In 15 years of seed saving, I have only seen one cross, between two yardlong beans. I expected to see more crossing, given the larger, more open flowers of cowpeas. It may be that in my Northern location, I lack the proper pollinators... all I ever see working the flowers are wasps, which are poor pollinators.
Some added info I forgot to mention re: cowpea crossing. About 10 years ago, I received a "bush" yardlong from a seed saver in Hawaii. When planted, that seed was heavily crossed - about 50% of the plants were off-type. So it may be that in Hawaii, there is a pollinator which frequents cowpea flowers.
 

Zeedman

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While diddle dallying around, I came across a couple new to me beans. Search these and tell me whatcha think.

Blue Shackamaxon pole bean
Worchester Indian Red Lima
Monachelle Di Trevio

Presumably you already know that Worchester Indian Red Lima is a pole variety? SSE has a detailed description:
Pole lima. Requires a long growing season. Climbs vigorously. Medium-sized pods reach 2.5-3” long by 0.6-0.8” wide. Pods commonly have 3 or 4 seeds. Green limas have a nutty, musty flavor while dry limas are slightly sweet but more bland. Texture is firm and meaty. Average productivity when grown in 2014 at Heritage Farm. Shattering dry pods. Small, solid dark maroon seeds. Dry limas are hard-seeded. Acquired by SSE from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange in 2006, who indicated this variety is reported to be of Indigenous/Native American origin prior to 1868. William Woys Weaver discusses this variety in his book “Heirloom Vegetable Gardening,” saying it is very similar to limas grown since colonial times in parts of North and South America that were acquired by Georg von Martens in Indonesia in 1868.
The things which jump out at me in that description are shattering (the tendency of dry pods to open & expel their seeds) and hard seeds (the tendency of dry seed to not expand when soaked). Shattering can be compensated for by frequent harvesting; but for me, hard seeds are a deal breaker, since they may remain hard - or at least unexpanded - when cooked.

Blue Shackamaxon is very popular within the seed saving community. It is described as a dry bean originally grown by the indigenous Lenape people of what is now Pennsylvania. Purple podded when mature, with deep blue beans in shelly stage, black or blue-black when dry. Desribed as high yielding... but oddly, no comments about flavor. There appear to be several alternative spellings; but the name "Shackamaxon" is derived from an English translation of the Lenape meeting place where they signed a peace treaty with William Penn.

I have no info on Monachelle Di Trevio, but I believe Russ grows it.
 
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Zeedman

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almost every bean i've grown works at least ok as a dry bean - but i am not super picky about them compared to other people.

once i get done harvesting and sorting out the rejects i'll often cook up batches of beans from the rejects and even try to make very small batches of single types if i have enough and then eat them to see if they work. almost always they're either good or ok.

last year i tried to increase my edible shelly skills and figured out that many beans i didn't think were that great as shellies, if i cooked them longer, were just fine and edible enough.

i guess my question would be to the bean people would be which beans have you found to be unacceptable as a dry bean (and why)? :)
I confess that while I test all beans as both snaps & shellies, I have to this point done very little testing of dry beans - because I am saving the majority of those for planting & exchanges. For shellies, my turn-offs are skins which are tough or crack during cooking, and "off" flavors. For dry beans, cracking can be less of an issue, if the result is to be used as refried beans, or if the beans dissolve as part of a broth. And the "off" flavors which make a bean unappealing as shellies can become "character" when added to a soup (Snowcap is one such bean).

The biggest issue for me in dry beans of any species is whether or not they will absorb water when soaked and/or cooked. Beans which fail to do so are called "hard" seeds. Nothing is worse than biting into a hard bean unexpectedly, then having to pick hard seeds out of a dish after the fact (or just tossing it). Old beans can become hard, but the only bean which I recall being hard when recently grown was Ma Willams (a.k.a. Goose). The "hard" trait may be most common in beans of the Phaseolus genus. I frequently cook old cowpeas, and recently tried cooking old soybeans, and all of them expanded when soaked overnight.
 

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