Shellout Beans

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Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegetarian

Shellout BeansI always enjoy learning to use familiar foods in a new and different way. For years I’ve eaten green beans, but it had never occurred to me to remove the pods and have only the beans inside.

In the fall after most green beans have been harvested, there’s always some left on the vine whose pods have become large and tough. They’re really too tough to eat as usual by steaming them.

If you remove the tough outer pods, though, what’s left are tender fresh beans. They can be prepared much as you would cook dried beans, except:

  • You don’t need to soak them. They’re fresh, not dried.
  • They won’t swell as they cook. Use the amount you would for beans already cooked.
  • The cooking time is much shorter–20-30 minutes is usually plenty.

I started by creating the simple recipe below because I wanted the main taste to be the beans themselves. I was blown away by the rich flavor. Upon reflection, it makes sense to me. Fresh vegetables are nearly always better than dried, and that turned out to be true for beans as well. Who knew?

Besides the amazing flavor, I was delighted to find that shellout beans (also called October beans or shelly beans) naturally create their own light sauce when simmered in water. I plan to try them again before the bean season is over. Watch for another recipe soon!

You’ll have to go to a farm stand, u-pick farm, farmers market, or find a generous home gardener to get shellout beans, because tough “old” beans aren’t usually stocked in stores. It takes a bit of work to remove the beans from the pods, but if you make the effort I think you’ll find they are a special harvest treat!

  • Prep Time:
    30 min
  • Cook Time:
    20-30 min
  • Ready In:
    50-60 min
Servings: 2-3 servings
  • 1 Tbsp butter (Breckinridge Farm, Everson)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped (Hopewell Farm, Everson)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (Rabbit Fields Farm, Everson)
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, pods removed (friend’s garden, Lummi Island)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped (home garden)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (see Exceptions)
  • 1 tsp basil, dried and crushed (The Growing Garden, Bellingham)


Put butter in skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.

In saucepan, put beans and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add carrots, sauteed onions and garlic, salt and basil. Continue on slow boil for another 10-20 minutes, until beans are soft.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve with Colorful Cauliflower for a hearty and delicious vegetarian meal.

Food Sources:

Community Food Co-operative, Westerly and Cordata, Bellingham
Terra Organica, Flora and Cornwall, Bellingham

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Comments (2)


There is an easy way to get those beans out. I cut the old tough bean pods in half and steam them for about 8 minutes or so. Then I rinse in cold water and just push the beans out. I made some the other day that came from a friend’s garden – yumm.


Great idea, Elizabeth! I think I could have cut and squeezed some of the beans from this last batch even without cooking. I’ll definitely try that next time. Thanks!

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