Gut Rumbles

August 18, 2004

shuck beans

I am amazed by the number of people who wrote me emails asking what in the hell are "shuck beans." If you've never eaten them, you have not lived a proper life.

Shuck beans are nothing more than your typical Kentucky Wonder green beans, the kind that grow like ivy and climb anything you put around them. I used an old piece of fence nailed between two poles to train MY beans and they ran over and through that fence like kudzu. They had beans hanging off those vines like Jamacian dreadlocks. I could go out and fill a five-gallon bucket with them when they really started producing.

To make shuck beans, you just pop the ends off and peel the strings from those regular green beans and then run a needle through them and hang 'em on long pieces of thread until they dry and rattle in their shucks. Then, you soak them in water overnight, throw 'em in a pot with some salt, fatback and a few new potatoes and cook them all day on the stove.

That's the best mess of beans you'll ever taste.

(By the way, that "mess of beans" is a Kentuckyism that means a whole bunch, enough for a good meal. "I picked a mess of beans today," means it's enough to fill a good-sized pot.)


OK, ready? I'd never heard of or ate hushpuppies until just a few years ago when I road tripped through Florida for a few weeks. I never heard of sweet tea either.

Now, hushpuppies I will have again. But sweet tea? I will only have another sweet tea if it's prefixed by Long Island.

Posted by: Anna on August 18, 2004 09:02 AM

Sweet tea is the way God MEANT tea to be served.

Posted by: Acidman on August 18, 2004 09:18 AM

My grandparents were born and raised in the Harlan and London Kentucky areas so I ate shuck beans a plenty when I was growing up. My grandma used to cook a mess of them every time we visited. She cooked them with a giant ham hock in the pot. Yummy!

Damn, I'm hungry now for some shuck beans, cornbread and some big fat slices of Vidalia onion with a little salt on them. Oh yeah baby!

Posted by: Brent on August 18, 2004 09:30 AM

Brent, people who have never tasted shuck beans don't know what they're missing and I feel sorry for them. My mama grows beans every summer and puts them up for shucks to devour at Thanksgiving every year.

You can take that girl out of the mountains, but you can't take the mountains out of HER.

Posted by: Acidman on August 18, 2004 09:59 AM

Southern food rules and sweet tea is the ONLY kind of tea there is.

Give me shuck beans, cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet, southern fried chicken, fried catfish, biscuits and milk gravy with sausage bits, fresh maters from the garden, and skillet fried taters with onions and a little bacon grease over tofu and foo foo yankee food any day of the week.

My only regret living in the great state of Kentucky is that we're too far north for fresh boiled peanuts. Man, I crave them from time to time. I ate a bag a day when I lived in Myrtle Beach S.C. Boiled peanuts are delicious hot or cold.

Damn! I'm hungry!

Posted by: Brent on August 18, 2004 10:57 AM

I've been picking beans by the mess as long as I've been alive ('cept when Momma wanted a bushel). Now that I think of it, we catch fish by the mess (Caught a nice mess of bream today!)

We cook cornbread by the pone.

And drink sweet tea by the gallon. Remember, sweet tea is the house wine of the south.

Posted by: freebird on August 18, 2004 11:53 AM

reading your blog is educational as well as funny. you'd never get shuck beans where i come from.

great reading! :)

Posted by: fiona on August 18, 2004 12:13 PM

Beans... And here I was thinking of cooking up a big pot of blanched peanuts. you can't get the real thing (boiled peanuts) up here in Hoosierland, but I can get blanched, unsalted shelled peanuts at most stores. I cook those like beans, with a smoked hock and a nice piece of bacon rind from the german butcher downtown. Onions, hotsauce, cornbread, good to go. Make me think about fall coming.

Posted by: Mamamontezz on August 18, 2004 12:31 PM

Fresh green peanuts are the ONLY way to fly, Mama. Trust me on that. I cook 'em a bushel at a time and freeze what I don't eat that first day.

I ALWAYS have boiled peanuts for Super Bowl Sunday.

Posted by: Acidman on August 18, 2004 02:17 PM

Well, a girl's just gotta make due sometimes. Lots of things this old girl likes that she can't get up here in Indiana, green peanuts being only one of them.

Posted by: Mamamontezz on August 18, 2004 05:17 PM

Okay, now I understand. Mom never let them dry out, she just destringed them and cooked em up, then canned whatever we didn't eat. We had wonderful beans all winter long. She loved to can in the summertjme. All these comments make me want to pig out. Fried chicken, okra, fried summer squash, fresh tomatoes, cornbread, ack!! I think I just gained 30 pounds.

Posted by: Denise on August 19, 2004 01:20 AM


Posted by: Lisa on October 18, 2004 03:00 PM

Boy, am I homesick for Ky. Shuck beans, fried green tomatoes, country ham. I take an extra bag to tote back ham, Hall's beer cheese and canned kale (can't get that in Fla.) -- then I can green beens and ship them back to Fla.

Posted by: cm on November 2, 2004 10:05 AM

Well, my parents are from Harlan, Ky as well. I was also born in Harland, KY. I grew up on Pintos and green beans of evey kind including shuck beans. I have now traveled most of the US and 3 counries. I have eaten in the best restraunts in Portland, Boston, NYC, Chicago, KC, Charlotte, Ft Lauderdale, Miami, Ft. Myers, New Orleans, Dallas, Laredo, San Antonia, Phoenix, Sedona, LA, San Diego, St. Memphis, Chicago, Mnpls, Lex & Lou, KY, Atlanta and so many more I could not name them all. In short, when I return from a trip I refuse to go out for dinner. I still want my beans and cornbread, onion, chow chow, pickled beets and a glass of buttermilk. My heart still requires some of my past that I love so much.

Posted by: Tommy on November 8, 2004 12:50 PM

When I was a young'n my granny would fix me a corn dodger sandwich and a mess of shuck beans. Hog heaven. For those of you who don't know what a corn dodger sandwich is, you make a great big wide but thin hush puppy. Kind of looks like a frisbie. Cut it in two, slather on sum mustard, add fried sliced sow belly or fat back, and a slice of onion. Top it off with a little chow chow and you have a corn dodger sandwich. Course its not for those on low fat diets, but it sure suits a hungery stomach on a cold night. Granny lived to 97 eating like that.

Posted by: Stacey on April 8, 2005 11:59 PM

Can someone tell me where I can buy shuck beans or as they call them in North Ga., leather britches? After my dad died, I know of no one who grows or dries them. The're better than filet as far as I'm concerned. Any of you bloggers willing to sell some?

Posted by: laveita on April 20, 2005 10:16 PM

Please tell me where I can purchase shuck beans. Cannot find them to buy even tho' I live in KY. Help!

Posted by: Rosalyn Rhea on May 5, 2005 04:50 PM

I am from Harlan (Putney) Kentucky and have eaten my fair share of shuck beans, cornbread, and fried potatoes.

Posted by: JR on March 20, 2007 10:50 PM

Hehe.. I have lived in South Eastern Kentucky all of my life, and in fact like the shuck beans. We have our own garden with messes of beans each year usualy about 30 bushels. This is all we eat close to the end of the months since its free and delicous, Horray for clogged Arteries!

Posted by: Brad on April 8, 2007 10:44 PM

Oh Yea! Hey Neighbor from Harlan! (im in The Great Cumberland Gap)

Posted by: Brad on April 8, 2007 10:45 PM

Hey. Just yesterday my neighbor cook a "mess" of Shuck Beans. We were wondering what would happen if I looked "shuck beans" up on the net???
So happy to find your site.
We love Shuck Beans here in Virginia, near the Cumberland Gap. Most people in this area "put up" bushels of them every summer and then enjoy them all winter...this kind of preservation came down thru the generations here.....

Posted by: Julie on May 22, 2007 04:20 PM

I live in S.E.Kentucky, and can't imagine anyone not knowing what a shuck bean is! Matter of fact I have a mess in a slowcooker right now, thats why I thought I'd google the name and just see what popped up. Thats the best way to cook them in my opinion, just add your ingredients, turn it on and let them cook all day long! Fantastic!!

Posted by: Lou on May 31, 2008 09:57 AM

My family was from East Bernstadt Ky, I live in Arizona. I grew up on Shuck Beans, I have tried to grow Kentucky Wonders here but it is too hot. I have also tried to make my own shucks from regular ole' fresh green beans, not too good. Does anyone on this post want to sell me some? Please email me at

Thank you,

Posted by: Carolyn on November 25, 2008 04:19 PM

Please tell me where I can purchase some shuck beans, I will pay. My parents were from London Ky.

Posted by: Carolyn on November 28, 2008 04:20 PM

Do you know of anywhere we could buy some shuck beans? I has been traditional in our family since we were kids and I am 57 and a widow now. My mom passed away in 2006 with cancer and she spent her last days in Benham, my dad married shortyly after and cut off all of us kids and grandkids. My sister tried to make some this year but they weren't up to Mom's although good just not enough. We live in Louisville and the lack of our tradition brought many tears to us on Thanksgiving. We are now looking for some for Christmas. I will gladly pay shipping, drive to get them or whatever just to remember Mom on the holiday. Thanks for any help. I am Someone please take pity on us for the Christmas pity. I also lost my husband in a car accident December 15, 2007 so it will not be a very joyous holiday for us. Shuck beans will help. God bless you.

Posted by: Gerri Schultz on December 1, 2008 06:20 AM

Where can I buy shuck beans? They are my favorite bean. I lived in Kentucky (Barbourville, Corbin, Harlan, Pineville) for a lot of years but I'm in Georgia now and they don't have them here.

Posted by: Donna on January 10, 2009 05:31 PM

Would like to buy some, where?

Posted by: Scott Veen on February 14, 2009 07:06 PM

i also want to know were to buy shuck beans i would love to get some shipped

Posted by: sally on July 28, 2009 03:51 PM

Kentucky may have shuck beans but so does the mountains of North Carolina. I have put many a green bean on a string and tied the two ends of the string together and hung them behind the wood stove on a nail to dry. Nothing better than shuck beans, fried potatoes, sliced onions, corn bread (cooked in cast iron skillet - round or square skillet) and a big glass of buttermilk. I also lived in London, KY with my sister for a number of years but I ate more shuck beans in the mountains of NC.

We have got some strung and hanging on our patio in Nashville, TN as I type.

Gladys Gragg

Posted by: Gladys on September 5, 2009 05:49 PM

I grew in Williamsburg. I love schuck beans.
Did anyone find out where you can buy them?

Posted by: barb on October 19, 2009 08:48 AM

We always had schuch beans at Thanksgiving. I grew up in Kenvir, Ky. Many fond memories. I purchased beans one yr in Chatanooga, Kept them in their crate and put them in the luggage at Knoxville airport in their crate only ,and they flew with me to Island Lake, IL. Mom Dad and I broke each end and strung them. Then I laid them on a sheet on a bed unused and dried them that way. Prior to that, we always put a needle through them with thread and hung them up. Haven't had any since then. I now live in FL. Found some beans from TN, dried them on our empty bed. They look pretty sorry, My Kids and Grandkids are coming down from IL. and CO for Thanksgiving. Gonna give them a try, I'll put some fat back in them after soaking overnight and cook them all day. Serve them with corn bread and onions. Would love to have som real schuck beans if anyone can tell me where to get them. mamabarg@hotmail,.com Thank you. Loved reading all the stories about them.

Posted by: Sandra Barg on November 16, 2009 07:08 AM

I grew up, some in Blackmont, Blacksnake,
Ponzi, Page, Yellow Creek and so on. I just ate Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and mentioned Shuck beans, and another guest almost croaked! She said; I've never heard anyone away from KY knowing what Shuck beans are!!! I love'em! Well, I love'em too, and would love to have some right now. Shuck beans, cooked with a slab of salt bacon, and new potatoes, served with ripe garden tomatoes, fresh small garden green onions and REAL cornbread, WOW!! In fact I intend to phone my sister who still lives at Colmer, near Middlesboro, and see if she has any on hand. If I can't find any, I certainly will plan to plant some this coming spring, if the Lord dosen't come first. And with the group we now have in power He may have to come simply to keep them from raping all of us!

Posted by: Bob on December 7, 2009 01:29 PM
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