What to do with a glut of runner beans

Even with careful successive sowing or planting, runner beans always seem to come in a glut during August and September.

I don't think of it as a glut, but a welcome harvest and  you can freeze them, or cook with them. Runner beans freeze well and cook easily from frozen. This means you can enjoy your own organic runner beans well into late autumn and winter. They also have an affinity cooked with tomatoes, which coincidentally are also plentiful at this time solving two gluts in one go.

Using up a glut of runner beans - cook with them Runner beans with tomato sauce

This is based on a Greek recipe called Fasolakia, which is a sort of tomato bean stew, and much nicer than it sounds. The Greek version uses a bean similar to French beans, but it works equally well with runner beans. You can make it with french beans, the method is exactly the same see images below.


Basic ingredients chopped runner beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic and dried oregano.

These are the basic basic ingredients: chopped runner beans, tomatoes, onion, garlic and dried oregano.

Ingredients combined pre cooking.

Ingredients combined pre cooking.

Finished dish Runner Bean and Tomato casserole

Finished dish Runner Bean and Tomato casserole

Ingredients for 4

Olive oil

Red onion

2/3 cloves of garlic depending on your taste

500 gm of prepared runner beans cut into small pieces

500 gm tomatoes - any type will do, although I find the smaller cherry type produce the best flavour - halved or smaller depending on size.

500 mills of good quality stock- veg stock or a good chicken stock gives the dish a depth of flavour

Dried oregano around 1-2 tablespoons depending on taste.

The cooking times given vary a lot with the beans. At the beginning of the season, when the beans are very young, they will cook and become tender quickly. Later in the season the beans are usually larger and tougher, and can take twice as long to cook. 

This is a dish you can leave on the hob/oven simmering. Once cooked, it can be left to cool, it will re heat easily and freezes well.


Gently saute the onions in olive oil until soft around 7-10 mins.

Add all the other ingredients, including seasoning, to taste

Simmer on the hob for around 30mins until the beans are tender and the tomatoes broken down to a soft consistency. Towards the end of the growing season when the beans are older, a longer cooking period is often required an extra 15-30+ mins, test for tenderness.

This goes well with simple grilled chicken thighs or salmon.

In addition, this dish can be made into a more substantial vegetarian supper by adding potatoes at the early stage with the rest of the ingredients. Also adding tinned pulses such as lentils or butter beans about 5 mins before the end . 

This is a good way to use up both a glut of tomatoes and green beans all in one go and makes a tasty side dish or a light supper. 

You can also cook in the oven if preferred. It will need at least 1 hour on low 170C and again test beans for tenderness.

french beans
Fasolakia made with french beans

If you don't have any runner beans, you can make Fasolakia following the same method subsituting green or french beans. It works just as well, if  not better and helps to make good use of another glut..

Kalí óreksi!

How to Freeze Runner Beans.

Freezing runner beans is quick and easy.   There are two ways to freeze beans, with and without blanching them. When the beans are young, I think blanching them is unnecessary and risks overcooking them when you cook them post freezing. If the beans are young and sliced, freeze as they are, but as the season progresses, it can help to reduce their toughness to blanch them first.

The images below illustrate the necessary steps.

 Pick all the runner beans of suitable size, wash and clean them and prepare them by removing any strings and slicing into suitable sizes. Before you cook the beans fill a bowl full of cold fresh water.

Have a large pan of slightly salted water on a rolling boil, add the runner beans and just blanch (i.e. cook) for 2 mins. Drain the beans, add the ice cubes to the bowl of cold fresh water and add the beans. Stir them to distribute the temperature, and when fully cold remove from pan and dry thoroughly.

The beans are now ready for freezing. They can be cooked from frozen and having already been blanched, the beans will only require a further 2-3 mins to be fully cooked.

Selected runner beans

pickedrunner  beans

Runner beans selected for freezing they are best picked young before they can become tough or stringy

Prepared beans

Prepared runner beans

Beans are prepared washed, topped tails and sliced

Beans cooling in iced water

Beabs cooling in iced water

Cool beans quickly by placing in a bowl of iced water

Drying Beans

Drying beans for freezing

It is important to dry beans thoroughly before freezing so there is no excess water 

Home Grown frozen beans

Home grown frozen beans

Home grown frozen beans what a treat!