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Runner Beans (Phaseolus coccineus)
When available to pick: July - August.
The quintessential summer vegetable. Runner beans are always best when picked fresh. Store bought versions tend to be tough and stringy.
Runner beans are robust and energetic climbing plants. On the farm, they are grown outdoor and trained to grow up canes to support their stems.
Runner beans should be picked when the pods are 15cm – 20cm long and before the beans inside start to swell. The bean will pull away quite easily from the plant when ready to pick.
Despite being a British favourite, runner beans actually originate from the tropical uplands of central America. They are believed to have been bought to England by John Tradescant who was gardner to Charlies 1st.
Runner beans are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B and fibre. The runner bean world record is held by an American, Han Hurley who grew a bean that was 1m30cm in length!
Before cooking, Runner beans have to be trimmed. Top and tail the ends and remove the fibrous strings on each side that can be tough and hard to eat.