Saving your bean seeds: Time to shake, rattle and store!

September 14, 2020

It’s time to think of saving your bean seeds!

Image of saving your bean seeds. Close up on a hand holding open a dry seed pod. The pod is cracked along the seam, revealing four, two-toned bean seeds. The seeds have a cow pattern-like speckling on them.

After a long summer of bean harvests you may realize that you haven’t given any thought to saving your bean seeds until now. Maybe your garden looks like an untamed bean jungle.

That’s ok!

Plants put a lot of energy into making sure their offspring (seeds) will survive and thrive. Luckily, when it comes to saving bean seeds, nature does most of the work for you. If you were to do nothing to your bean plants all summer, by fall they would still likely be covered in ripe, swelling seed pods.

Shake, rattle and store

Choose a few bean pods from healthy plants and DON’T eat them! Leave them on the bush/vine until they are dry, papery and brown. Give the pods a shake; when fully mature, bean seeds will rattle inside the pods.

If your beans aren’t dry before the first frost, cut the plant at the base or pull it up by the roots and hang it indoors in a well ventilated area. Again, allow the pods to dry until the seeds rattle in the inside when you shake them. The drying process may take several days or weeks depending on your location.

Crack the dry pods open and remove the seeds. If the seeds are too hard to dent with a fingernail, they are ready to store. Dried seeds can be stored in paper envelopes, bags or jars, but avoid plastic bags as these can promote condensation and rot. Once the seeds are in your preferred vessel, don’t forget to write the variety’s name and the year of harvest on it!

Store your saved seeds in a cool, dry and dark location.

Want to learn a bit more about bean seed saving? Watch this video with Tegan Wong-Daugherty of the Knowlesville Art and Nature Centre in Knowlesville, New Brunswick reviewing the basics of bean seed saving, including isolation distances, harvesting and storage tips and more!

If you don’t plant them, eat them!

Dried beans make an excellent winter food. They require reconstituting with water and longer cooking times before eating but provide an excellent source of protein in stews, soups and classic baked bean dishes.

Any you don’t cook can be replanted in your garden in the spring for a new supply of fresh beans!

Happy seed saving!