Harvesting Beans: When Do You Pick Beans

This Morning's Bean Harvest
Image by Baron Chandler

By Heather Rhoades

Growing beans is easy. But many gardeners wonder when do you pick beans. The answer to this question depends on the kind of bean that you are growing and how you would like to eat them.

Harvesting Snap Beans

Green, wax, bush and pole beans all belong to this group. The best time when to pick beans in this group is while they are still young and tender and before the seeds inside are visibly evident when looking at the pod.

If you wait too long to pick snap beans, even by a day or two, the beans will be tough, coarse, woody and stringy. This will make them unfit for your dinner table.

Harvesting Shell Beans for Pods

Shell beans, such as kidney, black and fava beans, can be harvested like snap beans and eaten in the same way. The best time when to pick beans for eating like snap beans is while they are still young and tender and before the seeds inside are visibly evident when looking at the pod.

Harvesting Shell Beans as Tender Beans

While shell beans are frequently harvested dry, you do not necessarily need to wait for them to dry before enjoying the beans themselves. Harvesting beans when they are tender or “green” is perfectly ok. The best time when to pick beans for this method is after the beans inside have visibly developed but before the pod has dried.

If you pick beans this way, be sure to thoroughly cook the beans, as many shell beans contain a chemical that can cause gas. This chemical breaks down when the beans are cooked.

How to Harvest and Dry Beans

The last way to harvest shell beans is to pick the beans as dry beans. In order to do this, you will leave he beans on the vine until the pod and the bean is dry and hard. Once he beans are dry, they can be stored in a dry, cool place for many months, even years.

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