Harvest your haricots

Harvest your haricots

Harvest your haricots for a filling and tasty addition to winter stews and soups which will keep you warm to the toes right through winter.

If you're growing French beans, you're growing haricots: while many gardeners know how delicious slender green beans can be, we often forget about their secondary use, as dried haricots. In French gardens it's a staple crop, but less common here.

Most French bean varieties make good haricots but a few are particularly grown for drying. 'Blue Lake Stringless' produces fine white beans, dwarf French bean 'Canadian Wonder' produces classic red kidney beans, or try 'Yin Yang' for extraordinary black and white beans

To produce haricots just grow your French beans on as usual, but set aside a few plants to ripen fully rather than picking the beans. The pods will dry to brown, turning crisp and papery, though you may have to finish them indoors if the weather turns damp – just cut away the plants at ground level and hang upside down under cover in a greenhouse or conservatory. Shell the beans once you're sure they're completely dry and store in airtight containers. Soak overnight and boil for at least 40 minutes before eating.