Thursday, October 2, 2014

A "Down Home" Surprise

Happy fall, everybody!  I'm loving watching the leaves just begin to change, how about you? A couple of weeks ago I got to do what is becoming one of my favorite beginning of fall activities: shop at a huge annual antique, home decor, and craft fair.  As I've said before, I love looking for items for my home that remind me of my roots.  But let me tell you, at this year's fair, I came face to face with a really big reminder about those roots, and it was quite a surprise!

Do you all know what shuck beans are?  Maybe you've heard them called shucky beans or leather britches.  My family has always just called them shuck beans.  If you've never heard of them, they are green beans which are dried with the shell (hull) still on them. They can be dried the traditional way by stringing them together to hang, or even dried on a window screen in the sun (the way I've watched my own mother from Eastern Kentucky dry them).  You then soak them, and cook them low and slow.  They're really good and have a much different flavor than regular green beans. You really can't get much more Appalachian than shuck beans.  They are a tradition that goes back generations in southern mountain kitchens.  So anyhow, I'm walking along shopping at this fair, and in one of the booths something caught my eye.  There, hanging on the rungs of an old-timey ladder back chair, were strings of dried shuck beans for sale!

Now, mind you, this fair is held in the middle of a northern city, so seeing these strands of shuck beans for sale really did surprise me!  And you'll never believe what each strand was being sold for...$12!  I don't know about you, but I believe seeing shuck beans for $12 would have left my Appalachian grannies speechless!  I was a little tongue-tied myself! That would sure make one pricey pot of beans!

Now by all appearances, these beans were being sold for primitive style home decor purpose instead of for a stove pot...but whatever they were being sold for, I was thrilled!  Now I don't know how many people at that fair would have known what those beans really were or not, but the very fact that such a traditional and deeply rooted Appalachian food (or decor item, if that floats your boat) was being sold for $12, is certainly worth celebrating!  I love the fact that others are finding it worthy of selling, worthy of decorating with, and certainly worthy of eating!  To me it's a sign that the rest of the world is maybe beginning to see that Appalachia does have worthy things to offer. I walked away from that fair booth feeling so proud of my Appalachian heritage! Now wasn't that a great down home surprise?!

By the way, in addition to Facebook and Pinterest, you can now follow Appalroot Farm on Twitter @AppalrootFarm.  I'm still trying to get the hang of would love for you to head on over there and give me some encouragement!  See you the meantime, hope you are getting out and enjoying the wonderful fall weather!


  1. Those beans look like what I know as cranberry or October beans or shellybeans. I have a pot of them on the stove now, ready for supper!

    1. I bet they do look similar, Cat! Traditionally, shelly beans are allowed to mature and almost dry on the vine. Shuck beans are strung up, or dried by another means, after they have been picked. So they would have some resemblance. I hope you enjoyed your pot of beans...I bet they were delicious!

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  3. The situations above cannot always be anticipated. A true surprise is just that - a surprise, which is unexpected by definition.TeddyBär