Runner beans can be a fantastic polytunnel crop. Not only will they grow upwards, allowing you to really make the most of the space, they will also provide a bountiful harvest. In fact, sometimes runner beans can produce such a bountiful harvest that it can be difficult to know what to do with all the food you have grown. Fortunately, there are plenty of options when it comes to preserving a glut of runner beans from your polytunnel:
If you have space in the freezer than freezing runner beans is one of the easiest methods of preservation. Simply 'blanche' runner beans by popping them in boiling water for one minute before cooling them under a cold tap. Spread out the beans on a baking tray in the coldest part of your freezer to ensure they do not all freeze together, then, as soon as they are frozen, place the frozen beans into storage containers and place back in the freezer for use as and when required.
One age-old method of preserving runner beans (if your freezer is too full) is to layer them in salt in a large, wide-mouth jar or other preserving container. You will need roughly one pound of salt for every three pounds of beans. Always finish with a thick layer of salt and press down to exclude as much air from the layered mix as possible. Seal the container with a tight fitting lid and make sure light is excluded from the contents. When needed, take out beans, rinse under running water and then soak for up to two hours before cooking in the usual way.
Another way to preserve runner beans is to cook them into a chutney or another preserve of this sort. Runner bean chutney is a classic, though there are plenty of different recipes to choose from. Choose a recipe that appeals and by Christmas, you could have a delicious chutney to go with your cheese platters.
If your runner beans have matured past the point where the green pods are tasty, you can still harvest the beans that will mature within. Leave the pods on the plants to mature fully and begin to dry out, then continue the drying process, shelling the mature beans, washing and drying them thoroughly before storing them for the winter months in an airtight container. Dried beans should be soaked overnight before cooking and should then be boiled for ten minutes, then simmered for a long cooking period before they are ready to eat. They take a while to prepare but are a good source of nutrition over the winter months.