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Calling time on Lima beans


With temperatures dropping into mid thirties at night now, I called time on the last of the Fordhook 242 Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) planted in the west front under the mesquite tree.

I picked this variety of Lima bean to plant this past season for its heat tolerance and bush habit, meaning I could sow in a bed without trellis. The plants did sprawl a bit and might have done better with some support.

We had a particularly hot and dry spring and summer, but I did harvest just over half a pound of dried beans from my 12 or so Fordhook 242 plants, before this final gleaning of all the pods.

This was my first time eating Lima beans as a shelling bean, rather than drying them. They shelled so easily and were absolutely delicious steamed then drizzled with herbed, garlic olive oil. Being soft enough to mash, made this bowl of beans a welcome break from the soup diet imposed by recent oral surgery.


I had no idea how delicious they are eaten this way, so focused was I on filling my pantry shelves with bottles of dried beans. Next year I am resolved to enjoy more green shelled Lima beans though I do need to do more research into toxicity due to PHA or phytohaemagglutinin.


Though I noticed no ill effects from this bowl, I was in recovery from oral surgery, taking a high schedule, prescribed medication, probably way more dangerous than a bowl of steamed lima beans, and not necessarily on top of my game in terms of awareness of physical responses. Steaming, however, might not be the best preparation method for green Phaseolus lunatus. Pity, as I really like steaming as a cooking technique for fresh vegetables.

I cultivated a pole variety of Phaseolus lunatus - the heirloom Christmas Lima bean - on support in two sections of the back garden this year.

This variety was selected because they are also have a reputation for heat tolerance.

The plants are at last gasp right now, but I’m holding on for a few more pods to dry and give me more of the beautiful maroon and white speckled dried beans.

There will probably be no toxicity problems with the dried version as my cooking technique: soaking overnight, tossing the soaking water, then boiling in fresh water in the slow cooker for five to eight hours, will probably be sufficient to reduce cyanide.



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