Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rattlesnake Beans

I brought these green beans home from Alabama. Although I don't recall ever seeing these beans, my Mother tells me that her parents used to grow them. I suppose that puts them into the catagory of "heirloom" beans, although I'm not sure exactly what that means.

These beans are not the slender variety of green beans found in the produce department of your grocery store (although I like those very much). These beans are hefty. These beans are "string beans" and "snap beans" because that is exactly what is required of them. They have thick strings running down both sides of the beans which must be removed. Then they are snapped into manageable sized pieces.

If you have ever been served green beans which have not been stringed, you know how unpleasant that can be. So please take your time and be thorough when removing the strings from the beans. Also know that these beans take a little longer to cook than those aformentioned supermarket green beans.

Once the beans are cooked, the purple mottling disappears and they look like any other hot climate summer string bean. I prepared my beans very simply, with a bit of leftover ham, sweet Vidalia onion, and new potatoes.

Summer Green Beans with New Potatoes
2 lbs. green beans
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
1 cup diced ham
10 - 12 new potatoes
Salt and Pepper

Combine approximately 4 cups water, the ham, and the chopped onion in a large pan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, then simmer while preparing the beans and potatoes. Add stringed. snapped and rinsed green beans. Cook for about 30 minutes. Scrub potatoes with a vegetable brush and cut a strip around the middle with a vegetable peeler. Add to the pot along with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook until the potatoes and beans are tender, checking and adding more water if needed. Serve with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.


  1. Beautiful looking beans and how weird that the coloring disappears when they are cooked. They look delicious with the ham and the potatoes.

  2. Hi Rocquie......I googled rattlesnake beans to see if it was time to pick mine. I assume by the picture of yours that mine are ready and I am headed out to the garden. I hope my beans turn out as good as yours look. Thanks...

  3. I live in Brevard and was just browsing for recipes for rattlesnake beans that I just got from my CSA. I will have beans with onions, etc. tonight. Great site and I agree with your food philosophy. My kitchen overlooks a mountain lake and woods. Life is good. I'll be back MA

  4. I've grown rattlesnake beans for years. When the beans first come in, we pick the young beans before they fill out. The next flush of beans follows quickly. I plant two 50 foot rows and when I let that second wave fill out, I easily pick 2 bushels from those two rows. They are excellent fresh or canned. They are great wrapped in bacon and broiled til tender. My beans produced until the frost killed them. Old timers tell me that I can dig up the plants and bring them indoors and have fresh beans all winter. Maybe I'll try that this winter.

  5. I'm a lurker when it comes to blogs, rarely post comments, but have to tell you how much I love your blog and the "journey" you take me on. When I saw the recipe above for bean and potatoes, I smiled and remember this dish from many, many summers ago, when I was a girl growing up in the South. So many wonderful memories came flooding back, and while my babies are off to college, think it's time to cook "a mess of beans" tonight!

  6. I'm glad to see someone posting about rattlesnake beans. I have a friend who is almost 89 years old now and he has been growing these for decades. He told me they used to be called "creaseback beans" although I'm not sure why.

    In terms of plants, I believe that heirloom refers to plants that were not crossbred, genetically altered, or tampered with to cultivate a particular look/taste/etc. Many of the plants today are engineered to be higher efficiency, have specific color, be resistant to certain pests, etc.
    My friend's wife cooks these with bacon and they are delicious. I grew up absolutely loathing string beans and green beans (my mother used to make canned string beans that had not had strings removed so I would gag on them).

  7. Glad to see the recipe and comments I will cook some with bacon tonight since I do not have any ham. Thanks I didn't know what to do with my CSA beans!