Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

October 6, 2008

I've got Leather Britches!

Yeah, and their green and kinda slowly getting wrinkly and...oh wait, you didn't think I meant like actual "leather britches" did you? No no no no no... that's just not something that anyone would want to see!

What I'm talking about is green bean leather britches. Strings of green snap beans that are dried to preserve them for later use. It's one of the oldest ways of preserving food, and one I'm excited to see how it works out. Here's what they look like in my cold storage downstairs.
When A~ was out in West Virginia she spent some time talking with her mom about the kind of things we are doing out here; growing, harvesting and preserving food for instance. As they talked, T~ (that's her mom...) reminded her of stringing leather britches when she was little. A~ said it was like a little door to her past opened up and she could totally remember it and couldn't believe she had never remembered it on her own. I was intrigued, having never heard of it, so of course with the glut of beans we've had this year I had to at least give it a try.

Here's a detail of how the beans have been strung up to dry. I started one with a darning needle and a strong but thin string (I used crochet string.) through a thick bean, tied the string around it and then proceeded to string the beans through the center onto the string.
It's a lot like stringing cranberries or popcorn for garland. After stringing about three feet of beans, I doubled the strings over and tied them together. These I hung over the old curtain rod downstairs to dry.

After I did a little research, I found out that this kind of preservation of beans is a very common and very traditional method of preserving the harvest in Appalachia. If you have a few minutes, this is a very interesting read about some of the ways leather britches are cooked and some of the history of the Appalachian cooking and methods. These are the kind of gems of knowledge that are out there in the world around us, but are hidden in plain sight for the most part. But, if we take the time to ask questions and share about the things that we're working on, and then actually listen to their answers, I think we'd be surprised how much useful and traditional information is out there for us.

I'm so thankful for the great Appalachian heritage that A~ brings to our home. We'll certainly think of it fondly while we're warmed by a hot bowl of vegetable soup with leather britches on a cold night this winter. Just one more way to preserve, extend and make the most of the harvest.

Till tomorrow.


MeadowLark said...

I was going to load green beans into the dehydrator just this evening. Think I'll try this instead and save the dehydrator for... let's see, I still have pineapple and potatoes and green peppers... Sigh. It never ends ;)

Mist said...

Hmmm... Hadn't heard of this preservation method before. Thanks so much for sharing!

I know what A~ means when she says "it was like a door opening up." I've been amazed at how much of my own childhood I've forgotten, especially when it comes to things like how we lived our daily lives.

Anonymous said...

That is absolutely intriguing! I'd never heard of that before! Thanks for sharing.

Sonya Cardiff said...

Well, I'll be doggone. I've never heard of leather britches before. My mom, though not originally from the US, has really taken to a lot of older food traditions and has learned a lot from her peers out in the Rockies. Still, I bet that's one she's never heard of!

P~ said...

Glad I could bring a little something differnt to the table. Good luck with your efforts.

queenie said...

Thanks! I'd never heard of this, either. I LOVE growing beans, and at some point towards the end of summer am overrun with them. This is a fabulous option to add to my repertoire and to keep homegrown beans available to us well into the winter.