When you are growing an heirloom variety of beans (cow peas, or snap beans it doesn’t matter) it is easy to save the seeds from year to year.
These are purple-hulled peas which are called that because of the bright purple-colored hulls they produce. You can eat these fresh as “green beans” or let them dry and use them in soups, stews, and chili.
To save seeds each year you need to let the pods dry on the vine or harvest the pods once they are fully matured. Shell them by pulling the pods apart.
This task becomes a family event that happens while watching TV or a movie in the evenings. Even the little guys can split the dried hulls apart and pull out the beans.
Many bean pods will split at the side seams if you squeeze them gently. Sometimes you can see the mature seeds nestled inside one half of the bean pod.
You can see why another common name for purple-hulled peas is sometimes “pink-eyed beans”. They resemble black-eyed beans except the eye part is a colorful pinkish-purple color instead. They taste meatier than the generic and more familiar pinto beans in my opinion.
If you are saving seeds for eating you don’t have to be as picky about which seeds you use. Obviously bad or rotten seeds are discarded of course, but smaller or misshapen beans can usually be eaten with no problems. However you wouldn’t want to plant any seeds that weren’t well-formed.
Notice that one of these seeds is much smaller. This would be an example of a seed we didn’t save for planting.
Let the seeds thoroughly dry in an area that is out of light and chance of water. We spread them out on a feed sack or sheet in a single layer so they can dry all the way. An easy (and fun) way to tell if the seeds are dry enough to store long-term is to smash one with a hammer. If it cracks it’s ready and if it smooshes you need to let it dry some more.
The seed-stock for these beans came from Sidney’s grandfather and as far as I know has been used for over 50 years. Talk about getting your money’s worth! Do you save seeds? Do you have family seeds that have been passed down?