October beans, like many of the beans I just listed, can come in a range of shapes, colors, and textures. It is more like a bean “genre” than a variety. The main unifying characteristic amongst October beans, or as some people call them, Fall Beans, is the fact that they set their beans late in the season. The first time I planted October beans, I was just about to give up on the flowerless giant sprawling vines, but then late in the season it started setting beans like crazy--I was inundated with them. Turns out, many types of October beans only set pods in the fall of the year, after days have begun to shorten. It’s not that they take a long time to put out pods, as much as they need to be “triggered’ by the days getting shorter. I planted October beans at different dates, but they all came in about the same time.
- Another story told to me by Lee, Veida and Aunt Nora was, It seemed the above mentioned folk had purchased a bushel of Julius best Shelly Beans. After the purchase was made Julius said, “I’m going to tell you folk about something good. Just make yourself some dumplings when you cook your beans. Wait till your beans are almost done, and just put your dumplings right in with your beans and let them cook until they are done. Now they are really good!” Veida said; “well Granny and I were crazy enough to try making bean dumplings just like Julius said and we ate a large bait of them.” A little later Julius learned of our dumpling feast and he went around about Bakersville telling folks “they may have me arrested; I told Nora and Veida how to make bean dumpling and they ate so much it almost killed them.” pg 41
Tenderhull beans on the other hand, tend to have more rounded seeds, and can be eaten at any stage: (1) Early and thin--some folks don’t give beans a chance to grow, (2) fat and bulging with seeds, flavor, and protein, (3) as shellies for soup beans and the like, (4) as dry beans, and (5) “unzipped,” strung together still in the hull, and dehydrated as “Leatherbritches,” a.k.a. “Shuckie Beans” or “Shuck Beans.*”
- "[It’s] a bean dish that my grandmother used to fix from beans that had spent the fall drying out on newspapers in the attic. When she boiled them, they fattened up and acquired that wonderful flavor that drove me into a feeding frenzy. Cream corn, hot buttered cornbread and leather britches! Just thinking about it reduced me to a salivating fool. "
- Bill Bests' Farm up in Berea, KY does great work preserving and sharing mountain seeds
- Alan West has a beautiful selection of old timey cornfield beans (and great rare and stunning field corn to grow it on.)