Eating well is easier and more fun when you diversify your meals and try new things, including vegetables. For example, have you ever heard of rattlesnake pole beans? Despite the name, there’s nothing scary about them; in fact, they would make a great addition to your diet!
If you’ve never heard of this bean, then you’re in for a treat. Keep reading to learn all about rattlesnake pole beans — how to eat them and how to grow them in your garden.
History/Facts About Rattlesnake Pole Beans
Rattlesnake pole beans originated in the southwestern United States and possibly Latin America, where various Native American tribes cultivated them regularly for 10,000 years. In fact, the Hopi credited a fertility deity named Kokopelli with helping them grow the beans. Nowadays, the bean is included in the Cherokee Nation Seed Bank.
However, rattlesnake pole beans have been around for so long that historians can’t agree on how they got their name. One of the most common theories is that the colors and markings remind people of rattlesnake skin. Some speculate that it’s because the beans make a rattling noise inside the pod after drying. Others point to the way the pods coil around poles like rattlesnakes at rest.
In some parts of the southern U.S., they have a different name altogether–“preacher” beans. Since the beans tend to yield exceptionally, they inspired religious leaders to preach about gratitude, praise, or the blessings of hard work.
If you’re up to try some rattlesnake pole beans, you must know what to expect. Before going to the store or planning your meal, allow us to tell you what they’re like!
As we said, these beans may get their name from their resemblance to rattlesnake skin. Specifically, they come in shades of purple, brown, and green, variegated or mottled like their namesake reptile. The beans inside the pods are white when fresh but turn brown with time. When cooked, the beans and pods become green. They may grow up to ten feet tall before harvesting.
Rattlesnake pole beans have a nutty and almost fruity flavor. Some people say they taste similar to green beans, except stronger and sweeter. They also have a thick, tough texture, so they take longer than other beans to cook thoroughly.
Thanks to their distinctive taste, rattlesnake pole beans lend themselves to lots of interesting meals. We’ll give you a few ideas!
Cajun and Corn
Here’s a stew-like meal that features cajun seasoning and corn. Since both beans and corn have historically served as staples of the Native American diet, you know they’ll go wonderfully together. The cajun and mix of vegetables will simply amplify their flavor and appeal.
Ginger Stir Fry
If you’d like something that complements the sweetness of the rattlesnake pole beans while adding some spice, consider this ginger-based stir fry. Throw in some bacon if you like meat, and serve it with a side of rice or noodles.
Put rattlesnake pole beans together with the tart, sharp, and savory flavors of kalamata olives, lemons, rosemary, and olive oil, and you have a delectable side dish. This olive tapenade is sure to become a regular part of your lunches and dinners.
Like other vegetables, rattlesnake pole beans can do wonders for your health because they’re stuffed with many important nutrients. We’ll highlight the most prominent ones.
Fiber is famous for regulating the digestive system so that you don’t overeat or suffer from bowel issues. It also moderates your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Your cells and DNA need folic acid to perform even their most basic functions. With the folates in rattlesnake pole beans, you’re more likely to enjoy healthy blood cell production and DNA growth.
As with folates, vitamin A supports proper cell growth and division. It’s also an effective antioxidant and a crucial contributor to eye, immune, and reproductive health. Pregnant women need it to grow healthy fetuses, too.
There are eight different types of vitamin B, and all of them primarily assist enzymes with distributing nutrients and oxygen throughout your body. For this reason, they’re essential to a robust metabolism as well.
The main function of protein is to heal and regrow muscle tissue, making it indispensable for recovery from injury and exercise. However, since it tends to be filling, it’s also a great deterrent from overeating.
Where to Buy Them
You may be able to find freshly harvested rattlesnake pole beans at your local grocery stores.
However, should you decide to plant some yourself, the seeds are available through one of our favorite seed retailers, Hoss Tools!
How to Grow Rattlesnake Pole Beans
Thanks to their tolerance for drought, rattlesnake pole beans are low-maintenance and easy to keep alive. That makes them a great addition to home gardens! If you’re interested in growing some yourself, we’ll give you some tips for success.
Since rattlesnake pole beans can grow 10 feet tall, choose a spot in your garden where they’ll have ample space to themselves. Each seed should be spaced two inches apart and rest about one inch beneath the topsoil. These beans thrive best in hot climates, so plant them right as the weather starts to warm up in springtime. There should be no chance of frost.
As their name implies, the beans are meant to grow upward. If you don’t have poles, a fence post or trellis would do instead. Pole beans don’t usually need fertilizer because they’re so adept at creating their own nitrogen, but apply it if the leaves look pale, which indicates nitrogen deficiency. Water them once a week during periods when there is no rainfall.
Rattlesnake pole beans are highly sensitive to cold temperatures, and they’re easy to blow down because of their height. If the weather gets unexpected cold, keep the plants warm by laying down mulch or a garden blanket around the roots. To protect them from high winds, plant them next to hedges or walls, and/or tie them gently to their support system with wires or strings.
The beans will be ready to harvest about 60 to 90 days after planting; once you see purple flowers growing on the vines, they’re almost ready. The beans should be white and feel firm. All you have to do is snap them off the vine and put them in a bucket, basket, or wheelbarrow.
Try Rattlesnake Pole Beans!
Now that you’ve learned about rattlesnake pole beans, your next step is to find some seeds and start getting better acquainted with them! In fact, they’re so tasty that they might pique your interest in similar foods.
If you’d like to learn about other varieties of beans, visit our Bean Plants page on the website, where you’ll find more blog posts as well as helpful growing and care guides.