My Beans are Gay

My beans are gay. Let me explain.

This morning I was messing around with Facebook Live Streaming. You know, that new thing where you point your phone’s camera at yourself and hope a lot of people will watch your antics. But I actually had a question I needed advice on from my Facebook followers.

You’ll see from the video above that I accidentally planted Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. I say “accidentally” because 1.) I thought I had planted pole beans (and was desperately trying to make them climb—which the plants, for some inexplicable reason, refused to do), and 2.) I didn’t consider the color purple even when there was a basket of plump purple beans on the package. I figured it meant Burgundy as in Burgundy, France, or, you know, Burgundy, Wisconsin. (Is there a Burgundy, Wisconsin?)

But what I found this morning when I was weeding were dozens of gorgeous purple beans! I mean Prince-worthy purple beans. I was shocked and excited. So at breakfast I risked public ridicule and, while unkempt and unshaved, I pulled out my phone, started streaming and asked my followers for suggestions for how to cook these jewel-toned gems. To my dismay, what I heard again and again was that they turn green when cooked. Impossible! (That should be said with a French accent to go with my French accident.)

I doubted every single person who told me that. Somehow, I felt my beans were better, special, that they’d retain their perfect, flamboyant, outrageous shade of purple. But sadly, as they blanched in the water, the color blanched from them. They ended up looking like pedestrian, run-of-the-mill, supermarket-variety beans.

Bottom line: Royal Burgundy Bush Beans are nothing more than queeny poseur green beans in colorful drag.

I’m as disappointed as when I discovered there was no Santa Claus and that most men grossly overestimate the length of a true, U.S.-standard inch. (Think about it. It’ll hit in you a minute or two.)

Blanched Green BeansSo, here they are. My blush-less, colorless, deeply discouraging Royal Burgundy Bush Beans. As far as taste, they were marvelous: sweet and a bit earthy. I served them with a drizzle of chive blossom vinegar and a spritz of sea salt. But they were still green.

Tell me: How do your serve your traitorous purple (read: green green beans)?

David Leite's signature



  1. Sorry I am late to the party. Web says that heat and acidity destroy the delicate anthocyanins.

    “The way to prevent or lessen the color change of any cooked purple vegetable is to soak it before cooking in vinegar or lemon juice, increasing the acidity. Then minimize cooking. Because anthocyanins are tasteless, preserving the purple color will have no effect on flavor.”

    Sounds like some experiments would do. I doubt boiling will ever work. Can you boil beans in a light acidic vinegar water?

  2. I am always so late to the party!

    Loved and intrigued by the “purple” beans, and upset that they didn’t stay purple…. another dark color to the veggie repertoire foiled (not a kale fan).

    Please continue to do the live streaming, it is soooooo much fun!

  3. Are they purple or green inside? One of my biggest vegetable disappointments was purple bell pepper. I had gotten bell peppers in every color I could find, with the intent of making a gloriously beautiful pizza. Disappointment #1 was when I cut into the purple pepper, only to discover that the inside was as green as the green pepper, and it tasted like a green pepper rather than more like a red or orange or yellow pepper. Disappointment #2 was when the pizza came out of the oven, and the outside of the purple pepper was green as well. I was scarred enough that I haven’t bought another purple pepper in the intervening 20 years.

    1. Betty, it was fine–pretty, but they had the same taste as regular green beans. There’s no recipe. We just tossed together mixed green with a vinaigrette and topped it with some sliced purple beans, cherry tomatoes, and chioggia beets.

  4. This post perfectly describes my purple bean experience except I sauteed green, yellow and purple together, smug in the fantastic side I was about to serve. Crestfallen may be the word. I saute my beans with onions, butter, salt and pepper. A little crunchy. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh beans.

  5. Sorry, my beans never make it into the house. I stand he garden and pick and eat, right there, especially after a good rain.

  6. Could you pick them when they are very slender, then do them raw, as a salad? I’d add some onion, some celery, some tomato, maybe some yellow or orange pepper, and a garlicky, mustardy vinaigrette. What beautiful colors you’d have to enjoy!

  7. Those are some nice lookin’ beans. When I want to retain the purple, I slice them very thinly, on a very sharp diagonal, and as someone else mentioned, dress them with a nice vinaigrette to add to salads–think shaved fresh fennel. I also add them to slaws, sliced on a sharp diagonal. I’ve used some version on tacos, in wraps, on pulled pork, etc. I also toss them into fried rice, after I’ve removed it from the wok. Sometimes they keep their color, sometimes not. I guess it’s a temperature thing. I find that the key to serving them raw, is to thinly slice them. I do however, love them raw with a classic aïoli platter, but I make certain I pick them when they are quite young and tender. The joy of the purple part, is when blanching them, the point at which they lose their color, indicates they are perfectly blanched, a litmus test of sorts. But, really, they are delicious, straight from the garden, in whichever way you choose to enjoy them…and do enjoy them. Loved the video!

  8. Love your live stream. I have planted these myself a few years ago, it was a disappointment as I didn’t get a lot, but I am not the greatest gardener at the best of times. I steamed, breaded and buttered them as a side dish and they were great.

  9. Have them with some tri color potatoes and ham.

    “Spending some time in hot water has a way of changing things”
    Royal Burgundy Bush Bean

  10. What a Fun and Entertaining Video, keep them coming ! How would I serve the purple beans: I would eat them raw, served in a salad w/ vinaigrette, this way you can appreciate how pretty they are ( and more nutritious too). I would also saute them in a combo of olive oil & butter, garlic, salt/pepper then finish them off with lemon zest. As for turning green while being heated, well… I guess that’s science.
    Enjoy your Harvest !

  11. How can you be disappointed, darling, when you didn’t even know you were planting purple beans? Sorry that they turn back to “normal” green when cooked, but glad that they taste good. Cooked with bacon fat & onion they’ll be yummy! Keep up with the live videos – it makes me feel like I’m there with you & The One again. xo

  12. As with any queen, the makeup comes off after a soak in hot water.

    How are they raw? Could make for a nice cold salad. Or a refrigerator pickle?

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