The Veg Plot

What to do with surplus runner beans

green bean chutney recipe

At this time of the year it can be hard to keep up with the runners. There are only so many green beans you can eat in one sitting, so what do you do with the surplus? Here are our top three tips…

1. Freeze
It seems obvious, but runner beans do freeze really well. Prepare as usual and freeze on a tray before bagging – that’ll prevent you from getting a bag shaped block of green ice when it comes to using them.

2. Dry
Some folk think us Brits are daft for eating runner bean pods – they’re far more interested in the pink or white beans inside. Round up the larger, older pods, shell the beans and allow them to dry – they’ll keep until it’s time for winter stews.

3. Pickle
Long before the invention of the freezer, pickling was the number one preservation method around. Runner beans make one of the best chutneys going, so here’s an ancient recipe, handed down through generations and purloined from my wife’s side of the family…

The best runner bean chutney recipe
Use as many runner beans as you’ve got. This recipe is based on 1lb of runners, as it’s easier to do the maths from there, and will make about two large jam jars of chutney. And you don’t need to be too precise with the measurements…

1lb runner beans
3/4lb onions
3/4lb sugar (ideally an even split of demerara and soft brown sugar)
3/4 tablespoon turmeric powder
3/4 tablespoon mustard powder
3/4 tablespoon cornflower

3/4 pint malt vinegar
Optional – 1 teaspoon curry or ginger powder

Chop up the beans – a mix of young and old will make for a good texture – and boil until tender.

Finely chop the onions (hold back the tears) and boil in most of the vinegar until soft.

Mix the remaining ingredients with the left over vinegar, drain the beans and combine the lot into one pan. Boil this up for about 15 minutes.

Put the chutney into clean, sterilised jars – but remember, don’t put hot chutney into cold glass (or visa versa) – and leave for a minimum of one month before eating.



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