Fortner Family Greasy Bean
(Phaseolus vulgaris); Heirloom; Pole bean; a Michigan Connection variety; Snap bean or leather britches; Minimum 20 seeds.
Fortner Family Greasy beans are prolific producers of short, slightly curved, "greasy" (non-pubescent) pods that are clustered on trusses that make picking a snap (ha, ha, puny =P.) Pods hold 5-7 small tan seeds mottled with brown and grey, known as cutshorts due to their squared ends, the result of their crowding in the pod.
We owe thanks to Paris Fortner, an Erie Michigan gardener who has grown this variety since 1955 when his grandmother Cora Bell (Bolinger) Fortner (deceased) first gifted him seeds. Paris' earliest memory of his grandmother growing these prolific beans dates to 1940, but her original source remains unknown. Typically the beans are enjoyed fresh as snap beans or preserved as leather britches for later use. Leather britches are a way to preserve a bountiful harvest for leaner times. Bean pods are picked before fully mature and strung together with a needle and thread and hung to dry in a warm place. Once dry, pods are reconstituted in soups, stews, or other slow-cook dishes.
Want to make leather britches? See Mother Earth News' An Old-Time Southern Method of Preserving Beans