Learn about scarlet runner beans and how to use them in recipes from a gardener who has been growing them for years. Scarlet runner beans are one of the most versatile vegetable garden plants. They can be used as edibles and ornamentals in a garden plan. They are also healthy (a good source of protein, calcium, and iron) as well as economical. If you love growing scarlet runner beans but aren’t sure what to do with them when it’s harvest time, you’re in the right place. What do you do with scarlet runner beans? How do you cook scarlet runner beans? Get the answers to those questions and more right here. Ready to learn about growing scarlet runner beans, planting scarlet runner beans, how to eat scarlet runner beans, and get some scarlet runner beans recipes? Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
My History with Scarlet Runner Beans
I first planted scarlet runner beans in our vegetable garden a number of years ago when my husband and I realized our garden was producing much more than we could eat. Our boys were grown, so I decided to plant more annual ornamentals and flowers in the vegetable garden. I chose scarlet runner beans for their bright red flowers, but didn’t pay much attention to the bean harvest. I liked the way the plants looked on our pole bean towers, which are easy to make, easy to store, and reusable.The scarlet runner beans added a nice touch of color.
In the fall, I saved the scarlet runner bean seeds to plant the next year. I always saved far too many, and ended up giving them away to friends. Scarlet runner beans are some of my favorite seeds to save, They are such a pretty pink color and look lovely in a glass jar.
When I decided to use the scarlet runner beans in recipes, I was surprised and pleased by the slightly smoky flavor. They were delicious. I’m so glad to be able to share my favorite scarlet runner beans recipes with you here. Let’s begin with how to grow scarlet runner beans.
Planting Scarlet Runner Beans
As I previously noted, I like to plant scarlet runner beans around the base of our DIY pole bean towers. The seeds I save each year have a very high germination rate, so I only plant 4 around each leg of the three-legged pole bean tower (or teepee, as some like to call it). I plant the seeds about 1 inch deep in the soil, usually in May. If we are having a really wet spring, as sometimes happens in Oregon, I wait until later in May so the seeds do not rot in the ground. About 10 days after planting I see the first sprouts.
***Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, which means as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. Already know what you’d like to get from Amazon? Here’s a handy way to get to the website, linked to a set of essential canning tools. Just click on the link, then browse around and do your shopping.***
Growing and Caring for Scarlet Runner Beans
I have to watch the scarlet runner bean sprouts carefully, as they are a favorite of deer and rabbits. To safely prevent damage without causing harm to the animals, I rely on a spray bottle of Liquid Fence. It contains many natural ingredients, such as egg whites and garlic. It’s definitely smelly, but effective. Our garden fence (which is in a rather dilapidated state right now), has always been purely decorative. I have tried many natural approaches to keep pests away from tender new plant growth, including sprinkling on human hair from our boys’s haircuts years ago. Nothing has been as effective as Liquid Fence. I highly recommend it!
Harvesting Scarlet Runner Beans
If you hope to can scarlet runner beans as you would green beans, harvest the beans when the pod is 3-4 inches long and quite thin. This will aid in avoiding stringiness. If you wish to can, dry, or eat the bean seeds directly after harvesting, wait to harvest until the bean pods are at least 6 inches long (they may be much longer) and you can clearly see the outline of the plump bean seeds from outside of the pod. What happens if you eat scarlet runner beans raw? The scarlet runner bean pods are edible at any stage of growth, but only eat the pods with seeds inside when the pods are quite small. According to the Permaculture Research Institute, fully mature raw scarlet runner bean seeds contain a substance called phytohaemagglutinin (say that ten times fast) which is toxic in large quantities.
Are scarlet runner bean leaves edible? Yes, but the tender young leaves are best. The scarlet runner bean flowers are edible as well. They would make a bright addition to the top of a dainty lemon mini tea cake for a party.
Eating Scarlet Runner Beans
Now that you know raw scarlet runner bean seeds contain poison, you might be wondering, “Do scarlet runner beans taste good? How do scarlet runner beans taste?” Cooked scarlet runner bean seeds have a slightly smoky flavor which I find to be quite pleasant. How do you cook runner beans from the garden? There are many ways you can cook or preserve scarlet runner beans. Here are my favorite recipes using scarlet runner beans.
Fresh Scarlet Runner Beans Recipes
Heating the scarlet runner beans at high temperatures (above 180 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes) reduces the toxic effects of phytohaemagglutinin. Are scarlet runner beans like green beans? If you are eating young scarlet runner bean pods, you can use them as you would fresh green beans. You can boil the pods in salted water for 10 minutes, drain them and use them in casseroles, soups, and side dishes.
Recipe for Cooked Shelled Scarlet Runner Beans
If you are planning on eating scarlet runner bean seeds shelled straight from the garden, place 2 cups of raw, shelled beans in 4 cups of water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder or granulated garlic. How long do you boil scarlet runner beans? Bring the shelled beans to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, then eat as is or use in a recipe like Easy Thai Curry Chili. The cooked, shelled beans may be used in your favorite chili recipe in place of pinto beans or kidney beans.
Are runner beans kidney beans? A runner bean is any type of climbing bean. Kidney beans are a certain type of runner bean, just as scarlet runner beans are another particular type. If you use scarlet runner beans in your favorite chili recipe instead of kidney beans, you could just call it your special scarlet runner bean chili recipe.
Canning Scarlet Runner Beans
To can scarlet runner beans, you will need some essential equipment. The first item is a trusty 22-quart Pressure Canner and Cooker. With this, I can process up to 7 quarts of beans at one time.
The second essential item is a 5-Piece Home Canning Kit, which I have had for at least 20 years. I dreaded canning before I made this purchase because I made such a mess all over the kitchen. The tools in the set, especially the funnel, have cut down on the canning mess immensely. I am also able to safely handle the hot jars using the tongs, lid lifter, jar wrench, and jar lifter. I would have given up canning long ago were it not for these tools. They have made that much of a difference.
You’ll also need canning jars and lids, which you can buy together. I prefer to use the wide-mouth jars.
If you already have jars and screw bands, you can also just buy more lids.
To can scarlet runner beans whole (beans in the pods), pick them when they are young and tender. Remove the stem and blossom ends as well as any strings. Leave whole or cut into 1-inch pieces. Following manufacturer’s instructions, get out the pressure canner and start heating the canner water. Place the quart jars in the water to warm them. Using a small sauce pan, heat water on low and warm the canning lids. In a separate pot, cover the scarlet runner beans with water and boil for 5 minutes (these are young beans, so no need to boil for 10 minutes as you would the more mature shelled beans).
Pack the hot beans loosely in 1-quart canning jars, covering with boiling water and leaving 1 inch of headspace. Wipe each jar rim with a damp cloth and attach the warm lids with the screw bands. Place the jars in the pressure canner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to seal the canner, then process the jars for 25 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure. When the processing is complete and there is no more pressure in the canner, remove the jars with the jar tong and allow to cool. According to the Utah State University Extension Service, the sealed jars may be stored on a shelf and used within 12 months.
Canning Shelled Scarlet Runner Beans (Shelled)
To can fresh scarlet runner beans that have been shelled (the bean seeds), treat them as you would fresh, shelled lima beans. They are about the same size. Due to the presence of phytohaemagglutinin, the hot pack version is best. Shell and wash the scarlet runner beans. Following manufacturer’s instructions, get out the pressure canner and start heating the canner water. Place the quart jars in the water to warm them. Using a small sauce pan, heat water on low and warm the canning lids. Place the shelled beans In a separate pot and cover with boiling water. Bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat. Pack the hot beans loosely in each quart jar, then cover with the hot liquid from the pot, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Wipe each jar rim with a damp cloth and attach the warm lids with the screw bands. Place the jars in the pressure canner. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to seal the canner, then process the quart jars for 50 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure. When the processing is complete and there is no more pressure in the canner, remove the jars with the jar tong and allow to cool. As with the previous canning recipe, the shelled beans will have a shelf-life of 12 months.
Drying and Storing Scarlet Runner Beans
How do you dry and store scarlet runner beans? I place my shelled scarlet runner beans on paper towels in a warm, dry place. For me, a kitchen counter works well, but if you don’t have counter space, you could put the paper towels on a spare table or something similar. How long does it take to dry shelled scarlet runner beans? I give the shelled beans at least a week on the counter, then I place the shelled scarlet runner beans in a glass quart jar. I leave the jar open, without a lid, and stick it in the refrigerator in our garage. If you don’t have enough refrigerator space, any cool, dry place should work. The dried beans are ready to store for when you need them for a recipe.
Give the Gift of Scarlet Runner Beans
A small Mason jar filled with colorful scarlet runner beans makes a great gift. You can give them for Christmas as well as other special days. Where I live, Mother’s Day happens during planting season, so a gift of scarlet runner beans to a gardening mom would be especially thoughtful.
Recipes Using Dried Scarlet Runner Beans
Do you soak scarlet runner beans? Before using in a recipe, shelled scarlet runner beans should be soaked. Here is my favorite quick-soak method: Place the beans in a pan and cover with water (2 cups dried to 4 cups water). Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat, keep the pan covered, and let the shelled beans soak in the hot water for 1 hour. After the hour has passed, drain and rinse the beans with fresh water in a colander. (At this point, they are great as a snack eaten by themselves.)
In addition to softening the dried beans, soaking and rinsing like this has the added benefit of cleansing away the enzymes that cause beans to have an adverse effect on some of us. If beans are still giving you problems, you might want to try using Beano, which is a dietary supplement that aids the digestion of beans and other potentially problematic foods. We keep a bottle of it within easy reach in our kitchen.
Recipe for Scarlet Runner Beans and Rice
The spice factor in this recipe may be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the amount of red pepper flakes. This makes a hearty, meatless meal and may be made with other kinds of beans as well.
1 and 1/8 cups dried scarlet runner beans
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 and 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups hot cooked rice
Rinse dried scarlet runner beans. In a large saucepan combine beans, 3 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to boiling. Turn the heat off and let the beans stand in the liquid for 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse. Return beans to the saucepan. Stir in onion, minced garlic, bay leaf, 3/4 teaspoon salt, fennel seed, red pepper and 3 cups fresh water. Bring to boiling and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer about 2 and 1/2 hours or until beans are tender, adding more water if necessary. Stir occasionally. Uncover and simmer for 15-20 more minutes, stirring as needed, until a gravy forms. Discard bay leaf and serve over rice. Makes 4 servings.
Scarlet Runner Beans Soup Recipe
What could be better than using scarlet runner beans in a soup? Here’s one way to use this fabulous ornamental edible. Perfect for a chilly evening!
1 cup dried scarlet runner beans
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cooking oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 pound cooked smoked turkey or Polish sausage, chopped
3 tablespoons apple juice, optional
Rinse dried scarlet runner beans. In a large saucepan combine beans, 2 cups water, 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to boiling. Turn the heat off and let the beans stand in the liquid for 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse.
In a large saucepan or stock pot cook onion, celery, and garlic in hot oil until softened. Add beans, broth, coriander, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to boiling and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours or until beans are tender.
Mash beans slightly with a potato masher. Stir in sausage and, if using, apple juice. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more or until heated through. Optional garnishes: sour cream, shredded Jack cheese, or parsley. Serves 4.
*Note: Once the vegetables are cooked, you could also combine all of the above ingredients in a crock pot to cook all day on low.
One Pot Scarlet Runner Beans Dinner Recipe
This recipe is a family favorite that I have adapted to accommodate scarlet runner beans. It’s great to make ahead for a camping trip. The smoky flavor of the scarlet runner beans complements this dish well, and the mouthwatering aroma is amazing!
3 cups dried scarlet runner beans
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 to 1 pound ground beef
3/4 pound bacon, cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 28-ounce can pork and beans or 2 15-ounce cans pork and beans
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 tablespoons white vinegar
Dash of pepper
Rinse dried scarlet runner beans. In a large saucepan combine beans, 6 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to boiling. Turn the heat off and let the beans stand in the liquid for 1 hour. Drain beans in a colander and rinse.
While the beans are cooking, brown hamburger, drain and set aside (or use a 2 cup container of ground meat mix made ahead of time, a favorite kitchen shortcut). Cook the bacon pieces with the onion, drain. Add the meat mix, bacon and onion to a crock pot. Add the pork and beans, the scarlet runner beans, ketchup, brown sugar, liquid smoke, vinegar, the rest of the salt and the dash of pepper. Stir together and let cook on low for 4 to 6 hours. Serves 8.
Freezing Scarlet Runner Beans
Can you freeze scarlet runner beans? Yes, after cooking, I often stick beans in a sealed plastic freezer bag. I keep the bag handy for when I need to throw dinner together. I add the beans to a salad or soup for a quick, hearty meal.