Greasy Back Beans

In 2014 I bought heirloom tomato plants from a man at work, and he threw in about a dozen “greasy back” beans, an Appalachian heirloom. So I planted them. I’ve been saving seeds and planting these beans ever since. Next year they’ll be the only string bean I’ll plant. They’re pole beans; I’m done with bending over to pick beans!  As string beans, they’re plump, meaty and their pods stay juicy over a long period of time. They are not greasy! The “greasy” moniker is because the pods are supposed to look greasy, but I don’t get it.

I’ve tried saving various seeds over the years and marigolds, zinnias and beans have never failed me.  Below is the last harvest of the greasy back beans this year, in their pods and shelled.  Cooking dried and younger beans together is a unique home-garden treat, combining the flavor of string-beans with dried beans. Cook like dried beans with ham and/or bacon, and serve, of course, with cornbread. (The brown beans are Kentucky Wonder. A fine bean, but I don’t believe they’re as good as the greasy back beans in any way.)


To save beans to plant next year, simply set the biggest and glossiest of the dried beans to one side. I put them in a clean, dry pop bottle with no lid and stick them on the book shelf.

A quick search on the internet shows a number of places to buy “greasy beans” and a number of different types. Some are called “greasy back beans” but they don’t look like these. I suspect all greasy beans are similar. If you try them I think you’ll like them.