It’s autumn here in the UK. I am lucky enough to have an allotment, and I love it at this time of year, its decked in autumn colour, bathed in hazy sunshine or shrouded in fine mist (or is that rain…?), and still abounding in fruitfulness. A few days ago, I stripped all the bean pods from the vines. The pods are slightly damp and bedraggled, and coloured musty shades of brown and yellow. I brought home a huge bin bag full of them, three different kinds: moonlight runner, scarlet emperor runner and borlotti. They look distinctly unpromising, which is why I am always struck by what I find inside. The pods split open easily, and inside, nestling in a smooth, silky, papery, white sheath, are lines of immaculate, shining, pristine beans.
The task of the next few days is to shuck them into bowls, then leave them in a warmish dry room (but not too near the heat otherwise they will split). Every time anyone passes, they perform a little ritual, which basically involves shuffling the beans around in the bowls. It’s quite musical and very therapeutic actually! To begin with, they sound dull and muffled. As the days go by, the rattle of the beans starts to change, until eventually it sounds like marbles rattling in a glass bowl. The sound, after a few weeks, becomes absolutely clear and bell-like.
They really are like magic. It’s no wonder that they’re the stuff of fairytales and runes. Continue reading A Celebration of The Humble Bean.