Portions of this post were originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2009-when I made leather britches (dried green beans) for the first time. Drying the beans gives them a richer flavor somehow-sort of like drying apples seems to concentrate their flavor.
Ever heard of Leather Britches? They’re simply dried green beans. Back in the day before canning jars and pressure cookers were common place dried green beans “leather britches” were the most popular way of preserving green beans for use during the winter months. In some parts of Appalachia the dried beans are called shucky beans.
Although I had heard of leather britches my whole life, I had never eaten them until I made my own. The first time I made them I found varying directions on how to dry the beans.
Some suggested breaking the beans before threading them on a string while others said to only string the beans before threading. Miss Cindy said her Grandmother didn’t thread her leather britches at all, she simply placed the green beans on a screen and set it in the sunshine-taking it back inside at night-and repeating the process until they were dry.
Whether to put the stringed beans in the sun was another point with varying opinions. Some felt the beans should be in direct sunlight others felt indirect sunlight.
Even how to thread them on the string was up for debate. Certain folks said put the needle through the end of the bean pod but never through a bean. Others said put the needle directly through the middle of the bean pod making sure you went through a bean.
After the beans had dried some folks simply left them on the string taking them down as they needed them, others removed the beans once they were dry and stored them in sacks or bags.
So after digesting all of the info what did I do? I pulled the string from the green beans, threaded the needle through the end of the bean, and hung my string of leather britches in indirect sunlight where there was plenty of air flow.
In the years since I first made leather britches, I’ve discovered I was making the process way more complicated than it is, I’ve found you can use any of the directions above in any combination and the beans will turn out fine as long as you keep them away from moisture.
Have you ever made leather britches?