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Cooking Leather Britches

Making leather britches

Some of you may remember back in August I made leather britches for the first time. (if you missed it-click here to read about how I made them) Since then-they've been hanging in my living room.

Soaking leather britches

I actually forgot they were there more than once-but Chitter or Chatter would remind me by asking if I was really going to eat those disgusting looking things. One day last week-I removed the beans from the string and soaked them in a bowl of water for several hours.

How to cook leather britches

Next I drained them-put them in a pot, covered them with water, and added a piece or 2 of bacon.

Leather britches

I cooked them for about 2 hours-making sure the water didn't cook out. I'd never eaten Leather Britches before-so what did I think? I liked them. I don't think they are as good as the greenbeans Granny cans each summer-but I certainly wouldn't mind eating them again. I believe they would have been even better if I had used higher quality beans-I used the last in the bucket at the end of the season-and if I had used fatback to season them with instead of bacon.

I see why the old timers made them each year-it would have saved on using canning jars, the process of drying them was a whole lot easier (to me) than canning greenbeans, and they are quite tasty too. I may just string so many leather britches this summer-that I have to put some in the girls room-that should give them something to talk about : )

Hope you'll leave me a comment and tell me your thoughts on Leather Britches.


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So we cooked our britches over the winter (yeah, I'm just getting around to responding) using a ham roast - a new flavour and texture experience for sure. I don't think I would serve it to guests, nor do I want to eat them every day but they have earned a place in our food preservation toolbox. :)


Thank you for the great comment about leather britches and for sharing how you fix them!

I have been eating Leather Britches all my life (53 years) I love them. Here's a couple of tips. First, I use a food dehydrator this makes drying a breeze. Second, use a wide bean, sometimes called Kentucky Wonders or Pole Beans. Third I use fresh pork neck bones to season the beans along with salt and pepper. They are delicious and so is the meat from the neck bones

Cameo-thank you for the great comment! You're right its better than letting them waste and easier than canning!! Good luck-and if you have time let us know how the project turns out : )

Have a great day!!!


Blind Pig The Acorn
Celebrating and Preserving the
Culture of Appalachia

I'm a mother to a 2.5 year old and a 5-week old. Stringing beans for britches seems much more doable than pressure canning - I can't nurse and can, but I sure can nurse and string at the same time! My husband is a little more than skeptical of this project, but I'd rather string 'em than let 'em go to waste. Here's to traditional foods. I'm hoping for the best!

My mom always made leather britches and we had them for Thanksgiving and Christmas. She soaked her beans 24 hours changing water a couple of times before putting the beans into a large pot with good seasoning like ham bone or a big piece of country ham . They have their own flavor and taste which is learned as you eat them more than once.

Hello there:) This is very interesting recipe, to be honest, I've never cooked leather britches before,and seeing this here makes me curious to try to cook britches and follow the process you make here. Thanks for introducing me to britches.

With family all over southwest Va, WV, central and western NC and eastern KY, we always called them leather britches. I found stringing them to be too tedious when I could just spread them out on newspaper and put them out on the patio to dry in the sun. My grandmother had a big attic with a big table where she would lay hers out. Whatever works, but no matter how you do it, you still have to check for bugs.

I've seen them kept in jars after drying but I always like to separate them into gallon bags and keep them in the freezer. I've never had a problem with this method.

There are number of ways to cook them but if you just throw them in water and cook a few hours you are likely to be disappointed. The night before I fill a large pot with water and add salt and the beans for may an hour or two. I pour that out and redo it before going o bed. Next day I pour that out, replenish the water and add stuff. Sometimes I add fatback or salt bacon, sometimes regular bacon and as others have mentioned a big old ham hock is always nice. Sometimes I use beef boulion or just add some small potatoes and a little onion. If nothing with fat I might use little veg oil. If I cook them in a regular pot on the stove I cook them on low heat for maybe 4 hours, if I can wait that long. Sometimes I have used a pressure cooker and that seems to work well but I add the potatoes, if I use them, after I return them to the stove.

I actually came across this site this evening because I am thinking to try cooking so strips of sirloin with a mess of beans tomorrow and thought I might get some ideas from the internet.

This is one food that I still cook like my grandparents but many things, like biscuits for example, I go with the new stuff. I just can't make a biscuit and better than a Pillsbury Grand so I quit trying. Same thing with milk gravy ... better from a packet.

Take care...

I can honestly say I have never heard of this before!!

I've never ate them before, either. I seem to remember them making them in the old days, though. They looked pretty good after you cooked them, maybe I'll give them a try this year.

Leather Britches. lol

Well, they do look good. :)

I really got behind on my blog reading this week.I can see the benefit of doing this instead of canning if you are raising your own beans to eat later.Have you figured out the cost of canning, drying, or buying from a store.We may all be raising enough to eat soon.I don't have a yard, so I bought a couple topsy-turvy containers to grow tomatoes and peppers this year. I think our younger generations would benefit from at least knowing about how to do this.

My Gramma had told me about Leather Britches! I've never made them though. We did always string up our peppers and then use them the following year to germinate the seeds for new plants!

I've still never eaten them. Maybe this year I'll have enough to hang up in my livingroom.
I'm not sure the girls will let those beans hang in their room. They might feed them to the hobos. tee hee

I think I'd much rather sit and thread beans on string than stand over the hot canning stove. We had some very resourceful ancestors.

I meant to say that the bugs couldn't get to them in the car.

BTW, I always loved shuck beans. We grew up eating them during the winter with cornbread! Yum!

I had never heard them called leather britches. We always called them shuck beans, as one other commenter said they did. We have strung them up but usually just put them in the sun to dry out and turn them ever so often. These days a good place to do it is inside a car with closed windows on a hot day. Put them on a towel or newspapers in the back window. They will dry fast there and it bugs can't get to them.

Interesting post! You bring back so many good memories for me!! I was born in Eastern KY and we were poor back then and you had to make do as best you could. My Dad always said that poor people had to have poor ways!

Hey Tipper I have never heard of Leather Britches before. They look very much like green beans after being cooked.

I always enjoy visiting your site. You always have such interesting things.

They sound good. And bringing them back to life sounds doable. You are an inspiration.

I'm glad to finally get the verdict. I have been waiting to see how they turned out since last fall! Maybe you will get extra canning help from the girls this year after threatening them with leather britches decor!

Tipper, I enjoyed this post so much. I ate leather britches when I first moved to the mountains in the sixties.

This Feb. I got snowed in and it gave me lots of time to think about the old timers and how they made it though the cold winters. The Cherokee called Feb's full moon FULL BONY MOON, especiallly when they couldn't hunt and food was scarce.

I can imagine the old timers enjoyed a big pot of leather britches with ham hock and some corn bread. That would have been a feast.

I remember my mom making these a few times. I liked them as far as I can remember. course I like most any kinda bean.

I was chatting w/a sweet lady in the rest. line today and she mentioned cannign sausage. I asked how she did hers and she cans it cold pack, just puts it in thejar raw, packs it down good and then pressure can it for about 90 min. She said she liked it alot better than the other way. She said she canned pork and beef as well.
take care

Down on the coast it is a bit moist for drying veggies. They tend to develop mildew before they are done I love the idea and will pass the idea on to my daughter in dry lands of California and Idaho.
Thanks for the idea.

Hi ~ I dried some leather britches a few years ago , but I never cooked them. I did put them in a canning jar after they were dried , wonder if they're still good. I think I'll check them out and see if they still look okay.

~ Many Blessings ~

I have never heard of this. I'm not too sure I'd want them hanging in my living room. But, I would certainly be willing to try them for sure.

I haven't eaten leather britches since I was a child at my Granny's and Aunts house in NC...
They mostly canned but would dry a lot of produce that wouldn't keep in the root cellar....
When you think about it....It makes sense to dry them. As in the olden days moving around for settlers, war times, it would be a lot easier to tote a poke of leather britches with you than a wagon full of glass jarred beans! Especially if you put carried with you venison jerky and dried apples...You could carry a lot of food in a satchel on a horse...

Tipper, my grand mother dried beans and apples on a window screen. She put them out in the sun and carried them in on the porch at night and if it rained.
I've cooked leather britches that I dried in a dehydrator and ones that my grandmother dried in the sun. Seemed to me that my grandmothers were better.....but there was about 45 years between so I don't entirely trust my memory. lol
In both instances I soaked then in water with a little baking soda then rinsed them real good. Also added a whole dried pepper to my grandmothers beans.
They were okay but I'd rather have fresh beans.
I don't know if the variety of beans makes a difference. Seems that beans with a full bean in them would be best.
I have wondered why folks don't dry their own Pinto Beans. Pinto's are my favorite dried bean.
I can remember that my grandmother dried some peas and some variety of bigger dark bean. I don't remember eating them.
My next new project is making cheese. I can remember seeing my grandmother making cottage cheese. You know we did such a good job on making yogurt and Greek yogurt, it inspired me. I've done a little research on it and I think it is possible. I may get the Deer Hunter to help me build something to press the cheese.
Thanks for the post.

Nancy-My house is dusty too : ) The leather britches did get a little dusty-but soaking them in water, then using fresh water to cook them in took care of the dust.

Blind Pig The Acorn

Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk

All at www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

They look good enough to me. I may have to try them this year. I think hanging them in the girls' room is a mighty dandy idea.

I saw the title of your post on my blog - but couldn't remember what leather britches were. But of course now I do. I've never eaten them, never dried them, but perhaps I will this year. Did yours get dusty while they were hanging, waiting to be cooked? Just wondering because my house has dust....

I haven't had leather britches in years. What is good is slicing a potato up and cooking with the beans. I may try stinging some up this summer too. I did string up a lot of cayenne pepper and have it hanging around the house.
Have a good weekend.

Tipper: I guess if you are going to make your britches out of leather you might as well it them. I agree with the girls, disgusting looking.

I read about these beans in the Foxfire books and then in your initial "bean" post. Neither of my grandmothers ever dried beans this way. They always canned them. I do think it is interesting and really it makes more sense, money wise, to dry the beans than to buy more jars.


I'm glad you liked the leather britches. I've never had them but I imagine they would be quite tasty. Thanks for sharing.

Sorry I haven't been to visit in a while. I've been a bit under the weather.

Enjoy the weekend.

Gosh I never heard of this! Gave me an interesting topic for dinner tonight!

You are so much fun Tipper, I love it!

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