Yard Long Bean also known as Snake Bean, Asparagus Bean or Chinese Long Bean produces long, thin round bean pods with a slightly sweet taste. The pods can grow up to 100cm long but are at their best picked when about 30cm long and the thickness of a pencil, then they will be tender and sweet rather than tough.
Yard Long Beans are best grown under the protection of a polytunnel/greenhouse in the UK although they can be grown outside in a long hot summer. It is a climbing bean that can reach 2m tall so will need a frame or wigwam of poles to climb up and tied to as with Runner beans or French Beans.
Yard Long Bean produces pretty delicate purple flowers and the pods hang down in pairs. To keep them producing beans, regularly pick and use the bean fresh within 1-2 days. They are a very productive plant given the protection of a greenhouse and lots of heat although can be held back if a little cold.
Yard Long Beans are a staple of South East Asian/Thailand cuisine but are also used in Hindi (Chori) and Caribbean (bora) cooking. They can be steamed or stir-fried and are great in curries. Cut the pods into 10cm lengths and treat like French Beans. If any of the pods are allowed to mature, the beans in the pods can be shelled, dried and kept in an airtight container for use in soups and stews etc. The beans will require soaking overnight in water and boiling vigorously for 10 minutes before simmering until tender so as to destroy any toxins as with most pulses.
Yard Long Bean is an unusual bean that is well worth growing, but to get the best pick young and tender and use fresh but perhaps allow a couple to grow on have a competition to try growing the longest pod. It’s a bean feast!