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Rattlesnake beans are hybrids of the pinto bean which are typically sold dried, although they are perfectly palatable fresh. The beans are distinguished by a tender texture and a strong, almost tangy flavor which pairs well with a wide assortment of cuisines. Southwestern cuisine often features rattlesnake beans, and they can also be used in Latin American food or included in recipes from other parts of the world. Many markets stock rattlesnake beans, and they are also extremely easy to grow at home.
Young rattlesnake bean pods are typically streaked with purple when they are ready to eat as green beans; they can also be left on the vine to dry out, in which case the resulting beans are a creamy brown in color with streaks of dark brown. Dried rattlesnake beans have a roughly oblong shape, and they tend to be fairly small.
Like other beans, rattlesnake beans are very nutritious. They contain a range of useful vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, making them an excellent addition to the human diet. They can also be prepared in a wide variety of ways, ranging from stews to bean purees, to satisfy a wide range of tastes. As with other dried beans, rattlesnake beans should be picked over to remove rocks and twigs before being rinsed, soaked for several hours, and finally cooked. Make sure to cook your beans well, ensuring that they do not cause their infamous gastrointestinal effects.
If you want to grow rattlesnake beans at home and you live between USDA zone two and USDA zone 11, find some beans at a local seed store. In the spring, after the last chance of frost has ended, plant the beans in well mulched soil in a sunny spot in the garden, and keep them well watered. When the seedlings emerge, thin them so that there will be plenty of room between adult plants, and set up stakes to support the beans as they grow.
Once the beans start producing green pods, you can harvest them, or leave them on the vine. Depending on the climate you live in, you may get beans for one to three months. If you leave them on the vine to dry, wait for the vines to die off completely and then pick the pods and split them to get to the beans inside. Store dried beans in a cool dry place out of sunlight for up to several years before use.