How to Harvest and Dry Beans from the Garden

October 25, 2018

We tend to grow lots of beans in the garden and this year we tried a new variety, Chocolate Runner Beans. I absolutely adore growing these beans. They trellis well and are abundant.  You can eat the beans fresh from the vine or dry them for use later.  Today, I wanted to share with you how easy it is to dry beans. The process is actually pretty simple. To use the dried beans, soak them overnight in water and then try adding them to your favorite recipes.  Some of ours include soups.


Taking a quick peek inside the beans early in the drying process.

The chocolate runner beans are beautiful.  Ranging from purple, brown to white shades, they all taste the same and produce the same plant with heart-shaped red and pinkish white flowers. So cool, isn’t it? Just like eggs!

To dry beans, you will need to wait until the seed pods dry.  This is usually a few weeks after the beans are produced.  I typically leave the beans for drying on their stalks in the garden until the first frost.  Once the first frost arrives, it signals harvesting time to me.

Harvesting the beans from the stalks.

On a dry day, with your hands or a pair of garden sheers (these are my favorite ones), clip the bean from the vine.

Peel back the beans from the pods and discard any moldy ones. I leave my on a cookie sheet to complete the drying process.

dry beans Tillys nest
The beans are set out for drying for a couple of weeks before storing.

Store the dry beans in an airtight bag or mason jar until ready for use.  Be sure to save some beans to plant for next year.

Tilly's Nest- chocolate runner beans to dry
Don’t forget to save some dry beans to plant for next year’s growing season. You can directly sow them into the ground.


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16 thoughts on “How to Harvest and Dry Beans from the Garden”

  1. So it’s been a frost free and wet Fall in northern Minnesota. I had to harvest some beans before they were dry and mature, Some of them will dry in a pan in the window, but some are pretty immature. I thought of cooking them like green soybeans. Do you thing that would work? Or what?

    • I’m not sure that I have an answer for you on that one. I myself would continue to dry the beans as directed on the packaging. The drying process and cooking of the beans makes them safe to eat. Some beans can be toxic.

  2. I too have a question about dry beans not being fully mature on the vine. I live in Maine and we too have had a very wet year. I have Fast Lady Northern beans…a small white navy-bean sized bean. I have picked out pods that reached the yellow/brown stage, but have many more where the pods are still green and it’s almost November!

    Can I just pick these green pods and let them dry on a cookie sheet indoors, or do I really need to pull the whole plant to let them ‘finish’?

    • I think that you could definitely try to dry the green pods inside as long as they are mature size. My biggest concern would be molding, so be sure to keep them in a dry space. Let me know how it goes.

  3. Hi I live in Washington State and I was given some beans for seed. I was told they are “TarHeel” beans and they came into our valley (skagit) by a family in a covered wagon. Well I took those beans and planted them and they grew 8-10 feet and take about 3 1/2 months til harvest. Every year I take the bean out of the shell and just to make sure they are dried I place them on two very old screens with wooden frame and hang them in a carport so there is plenty of air and no rain. I store in glass jars. Well this last year I went from 1-25′ row to 3 -25′ rows. Well I would love to know what these beans are. The are very large, some are purple, some are white, some are brown, some are speckled…..My thought is they are one kind and someone along the line planted some other kind of bean and they cross pollinated. The bloom color? some are a creamy white and some are a orange/red.

    • Sounds like you have Chocolate runner beans. I was just reading about this type of bean. Love your story, how your “Tar Heel beans” came to you. We have “Moomaw beans”, Moomaw is grandmother in Swedish or Norwegian, I believe. My husbands great grandmother grew them every year. She went by Moomaw. The seeds we grow are from her stash. They are a lovely white-maroon mottled bean. They are delicious in recipes. I’d love to have a sampling of your family beans, if you’re interested, perhaps we could have a great bean exchange. I live in Washington as well, just south of Seattle.

  4. We harvest beans in Oct and dry them through Dec. We inevitably lose some to mold. Any ideas what we can do differently to reduce our loss to mold?

  5. I have amethyst bean i want to dry. Your article was very helpful. I don’t harvest to eat but to enjoy the beauty of Plant and flowers.

    • I would harvest the bean when they are fully ready to eat. Then you can let them dry naturally if you intend to perhaps plant a few for next year. I’m not sure if the oven or dehydrator is necessary.

  6. I’m trying to finish drying out a few bean pods. I plan to dry whole bean pods in the oven on a very low temp (90 degrees or less) for an hour or so. Has anyone else tried this method?

    • I worry that drying them in the oven will dry them out too quickly and may make the bean unviable for next year’s planting. I also worry about the possibility “cooking” them even at low temperatures.


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