Dragon tongue wax beans, sometimes called Dragon’s tongue beans, are large, deliciously tender, stringless, and flavorful!
Able to get up to 7″ long without getting all tough and leathery, these beans have dramatic purple striping on yellow pods that stands out among the greenery. This is a bean that’s hard to miss, come harvest-time!
This delicious bean is a heavy bearer under the right conditions, happily yielding up a plentiful harvest. They can be used in any number of ways, from stir-fries, to canning, or even fresh snacking. Not a fan of eating wax beans in these ways? Then let them mature further on the plant for a while – eventually, they’ll become shelling beans!
Conveniently, these beans grow in a bush habit, rather than growing up supports, like pole beans. This makes them very easy to tuck around the garden, with no worries about having to set up trellises or poles.
Sadly, that dramatic coloring doesn’t last under the strain of cooking. The purple pigment will fade out when the beans are cooked, leaving an unassuming pale yellow color behind.
Fortunately, dragon tongue beans more than make up for it in the form of delicious flavor and a wonderful texture, making them a worthy addition to the garden.
About Dragon Tongue Beans:
- Plant: Heirloom Wax Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
- Color: Plant foliage is green, with purple-striped yellow pods.
- Days to Maturity: ~60 days from planting for harvesting pods
- Frost-hardy: No
- Lifespan: Annual
- When to plant: Direct-sow after all chance of frost has completely passed. (Soak seeds overnight before planting for faster germination.)
- Edible: Yes
- Part Eaten: Pods/Beans (pods may be eaten as a green bean, or beans allowed to mature and used as a shelling/dry bean)
- Requires support: No
Where to Buy
Dragon tongue beans are a much more common heirloom than some other kinds – it’s very easy to find them from a number of sources!
Other reputable online seed sellers, such as Johnny’s also offer dragon tongue beans as part of their stock. Your own favorite seed vendors may also offer these beans, or if they don’t, a quick online search will swiftly bring you more options to choose from!
How to Grow
Grow these beans as you would any other types of bush bean. After all risk of frost has past, sow beans in a location with direct sun and soil with good drainage 2″ apart and 1″ deep. If you are planting in rows, then space the rows 3-4 ft. apart.
You may want to soak the seeds overnight before sowing to get a headstart on germination. This is optional, but will help to speed the process.
After sowing, water well. Keep evenly moist until germination occurs, which will usually take around 1-2 weeks. Warmer weather and soil will result in swifter germination.
Keep a sharp eye out for pests – bean beetles will tear apart a dragon tongue plant as greedily as any other type of bean. Keeping the plants covered with row covers help to shield the plants from this voracious pest. If you see any of the beetles or their eggs and/or their larvae on your plants, hand-pick them off immediately.
Once your plants begin producing beans, you can keep them producing by continually harvesting from them as pods mature. They can last a surprisingly long time!
Harvesting & Using Dragon Tongue Beans
Harvest the pods after they’ve formed and grown and still are mostly flat due to immature beans within, but before the beans inside the pods develop enough to make the pods bulge. When the beans begin to develop, they make the pods become tougher and leathery, losing that crisp sweetness that dragon tongue managed to hold onto up to this point.
The beans will not all be ready to harvest all at once. They produce steadily, however, and once your beans start producing you might want to make a point of going out and checking for ready-to-pick beans every other day.
If you’re trying to save up enough beans to, say, can them, then they can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for a few days.
As for shelling beans, leave the pods on the plants until the beans are fully mature, and the pods have dried. Collect the dried pods and shell out the beans. Just like with eating dragon tongue beans in their green-bean-like stage, you’ll likely want to check for ready beans every other day or so.
Before using these beans for any recipes, you’ll want to snap their ends off. Ripe, fresh beans will snap just like green beans! You’ll also likely want to snap each bean in at least halves, if not fourths.
Once you have your snapped beans, you can use them for whatever you so please! Have a favorite recipe that uses green beans? Try substituting wax beans instead! Or you can toss a handful into a stir fry, or a pot roast. Green bean salad is another option. And, of course, you can always cook up a mess of home-canned wax beans in a pot with a bit of bacon, all buttery-warm flavor and tender-texture…
The fresh beans are often described as crisp and juicy. Canned beans will have a softer texture when cooked, so if you prefer your beans crisp, consider freezing them, rather than canning, to preserve them.
Dragon tongue beans being used as shelling beans should be treated as a dry bean. Add and use them in recipes that call for dry beans.
Preserving & Storing Dragon Tongue Beans
Dried shelling beans may be stored in glass jars or other suitable storage containers in a cool, dark, dry location for around a year.
As for the fresh beans, they can be pressure canned for storage just as you would for regular green beans. (10 lbs of pressure for 20 minutes for pints, 25 minutes for quart jars.) Canned dragon tongue beans are delicious and if properly pressure canned, sealed, and kept in suitable storage conditions (cool, dry, and dark), will last for up to a year.
Alternatively, you can freeze them! Simply snap and blanch the beans for three minutes in boiling water. Cool, drain, and pack in freezer-safe bags or containers, keeping them frozen until you desire to use them. Beans frozen in this way will be good for 10-12 months, but should be discarded if there are signs of freezer burn or spoiling.
Dragon tongue wax beans are one of our favorite flavors for mealtime, and most reliable producers for our pantry. We hope you get a chance to try them out in your garden too!