Jack and the Beanstalk “Butter” Beans

I look at the Butter Beans I’ve grown and imagine these are the ones Jack planted for his beanstalk.

The joy of September is that the shelling beans are finally ripening and we get to pick and eat them fresh alongside some of the final homegrown tomatoes, peppers and of course some fresh herbs. Butter Beans make truly simple and nutritional dishes. You can play around with the seasonings, add a chopped chilli, or a pepper and courgette, a few slices of red onion, or use lemon juice instead of red wine vinegar.

Whatever you choose they are beautiful to grow and delicious to eat!

Butter Beans with Tomatoes and Basil


Ingredients ~

  • Fresh Butter Beans (if you can get them, if not 1 can)
  • 4 small tomatoes
  • A handful of fresh Basil leaves
  • 1 tbls red wine vinegar
  • 1  – 1 1/2 tbls olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method ~

  • If using fresh beans or beans that have been frozen from fresh you don’t need to soak them. Put them in some fresh cold water, bring to the boil, DO NOT ADD SALT, it toughens them in the cooking process, and rapid boil for 10 minutes, then continue to cook for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • If using dried beans, soak them (overnight is best) and cook for approximately 1 hour, plus the 10 minutes rapid boil.
  • If using canned – open the can and drain and rinse in cold water 🙂
  • Chop the tomatoes roughly.
  • Mix the red wine vinegar and olive oil and seasonings in a bowl and add the drained Butter Beans, mix gently and check for seasoning and serve.
  • Serve either warm or chilled, I prefer slightly warm.

Notes for storing & cooking shelling beans ~

If you grow or can buy fresh shelling beans like Butter or Borlotti and don’t want to eat them all in one sitting, then simply pod them and pop them straight  into a plastic container with a close-fitting lid, and freeze them. There is no need to par-boil them before freezing. And when you want to eat some, simply take the amount you want out of the freezer, and cook them up as I described above. Very simple!

Gardening Notes ~

I’m saying Butter beans, but the beans originally given to me by a fellow seed swapper were Gigandes, an extra large type of climbing bean, which I grew, with some success last year, saved seeds for this one, and grew them again. But this years beans are smaller. So my only conclusion is that they have cross pollinated with Runner Beans grown nearby. So they are now back to standard Butter Beans. They are still tasty though!


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