rattlesnake beans

Vegetable of the Day: Rattlesnake Beans

What they look like: Large, flat beans, yellow to green in color, with purple snake-like markings that fade when cooked.

How to prepare: Just like green beans. Trim the ends and eat the whole pods.

Why we love them: Who wouldn’t love beans that are named for a snake and change color when you cook them? They are more tender than your ordinary string beans, and a lot less, well, stringy.

On the subject of seeds...
riahawk said: Are the Rattlesnake Pole beans tasty? The heat we’ve been having murdered all of my plants. Also, where does one come across ground cherries?

(Sorry, don’t know how to answer questions left as comment thingies…)

Rattlesnake Pole beans are a dry bean–I only do dry beans, because I don’t have a lot of space or time and I’m likely to miss the window on green beans, whereas the dry beans keep until we’re ready. Rattlesnakes are great for hot, humid weather, and nearly unkillable. They are a great bean to add to stuff. They’re not super tasty on their own–Rattlesnakes over rice would be sort of bland, something like Mother Stallard is way better–but they rock in chili. I grow them in a chunk of garden that I largely neglect and they scramble up over the deck railing and produce scads of beans, which get dried and thrown into chili in the winter.

For heat and humidity–in North Carolina, a real problem!–Rattlesnake Pole, Mother Stallard, and so far, Trail of Tears (a Cherokee heirloom variety, and incidentally one of the “Ark of Taste” endangered foods, so everybody grow this sucker!) do really really well. (I’m experimenting with “Arkansas Traveler” tomatoes this year–my Brandywines choked and died in the heat. “Sungold” and “Super100″ are good, if you want cherry or grape tomatoes.)

Ground cherries you probably have to grow from seed, and start indoors. They’re a relative of tomatillos, they look identical but small and yellow, and they have an oddly nutty fruit taste that is nothing at all like cherries. They’re pretty easy to grow if you can handle the seed starting parts. They are a native US plant, although there’s a huge South African variety called a “Cape Gooseberry” that is identical but giant.

Hope that helps!