Greasy Cut Short Beans

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Have you ever heard of Greasy Cut Short Beans? They're as southern as it gets! If you're from my neck of the woods, you probably know all about greasy cut shorts, or greasy beans, as the locals call 'em.

Are you're wondering how to cook and season these heirloom beans that originated in the Appalachian mountains? Well, I'm fixin' to tell you how to make the best green beans you've ever tasted!

greasy cut short beans spilling out of a farmer's basket laying on its side
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What Are Greasy Cut Shorts?

Greasy cut shorts are very different from any green bean you've eaten. The seeds inside the hull are large, and can sometimes bust out and be as big as dry beans. That's why they're often called 'bust out' beans.

You basically get two beans in one...both green and dry. Greasy cut shorts are more satisfying than other green beans, and have a higher protein content. This makes them a popular choice for dinner with a cake of Southern Cornbread.

Why Are They Called Greasy?

These beans are called greasy because they take on a shiny appearance. There's nothing greasy about them, but they have a smooth pod that looks shiny, especially when cooked.

If you run your fingers along the pods, you'll also notice they have no peach fuzz, which is why they're often described as 'slick.' Old timers say that the seeds grow so closely together that the ends are 'cut short.'

No matter what you call them, this heirloom vegetable is a southern treat you won't forget.

greasy cut short beans snapped and rinsed in a white colander

Where Did They Come From?

There are as many varieties of greasy beans as there are families along the Blue Ridge. That's because folks from Appalachia passed down their seeds through the generations, creating several heirloom beans. In fact, some greasys have been traced all the way back to the 1700's, when a bride would receive seeds as a gift from her family.

Greasy cut shorts were the favorite type of pole bean that my Granny Mac planted in her garden. She was from Hazelwood, which is located in Western North Carolina, one of the areas where greasy beans originated. Greasy beans are also well established in eastern Kentucky.

I have fond memories of stringing pole beans with Granny on her front porch every summer, while she kept an eye on a big pot of greasys with a chunk of fat back buried inside. My great-grandmother Compton was there too, rocking in her chair, and dipping snuff like there was no tomorrow.

farmer's basket full of greasy short cut beans beside a colander and bowl

Where To Buy Them

Every year around the middle of July, greasy cut short beans go on sale at the WNC Farmer's Market in Asheville, and along roadside stands like Duckett's Produce in Canton, NC. They're harvested from local farmers who sell them by the pound or the bushel.

They're not cheap, but they're in great demand. Greasys often sell out as soon as folks discover they've arrived. My aunt Judi adored these beans, and was known to buy a big mess of them whenever she visited. Once you grow up on greasys, no other bean will do.

How To Order Seeds

The best way to get your hands on these beans is to grow them yourself. You can find heirloom seeds such as Pink Tip Greasy from Bethel, NC on the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture website.

They have both greasy beans and greasy cut short seeds for sale. There's even one named Lazy Wife Greasy which must have been named by a disgruntled farmer!

fingers pulling a string from a green bean

How To String Greasy Beans

Before you can cook greasy beans, you have to string 'em and break 'em. Sorry, but you can't skip this step. Nobody likes strings in their beans!

This is definitely a time consuming process, but well worth the effort. Back in the day, stringing beans was a family affair, and still is in some southern regions.

To string beans, hold one in your hand and use your thumbnail to dig into the end of the bean. There, you will find a string that can be easily pulled from one end to the other.

Repeat this step on the other side of the bean, then break the bean into halves or thirds, depending on how long the beans are. Place the broken beans into a large colander, and discard the strings into a bowl.

two hands showing how to string a green bean

Which Seasoning Is Best To Use?

Since greasys take about an hour to cook, the seasoning is very important. The southern way is a good place to start, which includes salt, pepper, and some type of pork or fat.

Granny Mac used fat back, or salt pork, which is a large chunk of fat from the back of a pig. I prefer to use several slices of bacon cut into thirds. The bacon gives the beans a smoky flavor. You could definitely use butter if preferred.

I also like to add garlic powder to my beans (and to most anything I cook to be honest). It's not unlike me to throw in a teaspoon of seasoned pepper (ad) or peeled onion wedges. Many Appalachian cooks would pitch a fit at the thought of such a thing. Actually, I think it gives the beans an amazing flavor, so I'm sharing my favorite recipe with you.

greasy cut short beans in a stock pot with bacon and onion

How to Cook Greasy Beans

Once the beans are strung and broken, place them in a colander and rinse with cold water. Get out your largest stock pot and sauté 4 strips of bacon after cutting it into thirds.

Place beans in the pot with bacon and grease, then add chicken (or vegetable stock) and water until the beans are covered. Bring contents of pot to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add seasonings, and cover beans while they continue to cook for at least one hour.

Some people argue that southern green beans are cooked to death, but I will stand behind my Appalachian roots any day of the week. These beans are tender and melt in your mouth, which is how true southerners love 'em.

cooked green beans with bacon and onions in a blue bowl

Freezing and Canning Tips

Most southerners like to pressure-can or freeze green beans for the upcoming year. If you want a great guide on how to pressure-can or freeze green beans, visit the Spruce Eats for my favorite how-to tips.

Serving Suggestions

After the beans have cooked for a while, most of the liquid will be rendered down. Give them a big stir, then serve greasy beans alongside Crunchy Parmesan Chicken or Smoked BBQ Meatloaf. Or, you can serve a summer supper with squash, sweet potatoes and heirloom tomatoes.

If you want to really get a taste of the south, top your beans with Granny Mac's Goulash, which is our family's relish of choice.

southern garden dinner with yellow squash, greasy cut short beans, heirloom tomatoes and sweet potatoes
Greasy Bean Supper

Recipe FAQS

Can you freeze greasy beans?

Yes! These beans are incredibly easy to freeze. After stringing them, just wash them, slice the ends off, cut them into the size you want and freeze for up to 6 months in an airtight container. When ready to eat, cook as directed in the recipe card.

Are greasy cut shorts hard to string?

Cut shorts are harder to string because the pods are tougher than most beans. But, they snap well and it's easy to get the hang of stringing them once you get started.

What are greasy grit beans?

Greasy grits are pole beans that require a pole or fence to climb. Some folks string them up on a trellis so they can grow up tall. You can find them in the Appalachian region of the Carolinas.

More Southern Sides to Love

Once you make Greasy Cut Short Beans, you'll need more southern sides to go with them. Here are just a few of my favorites...

Recipe Card

greasy cut short beans spilling out of a farmer's basket laying on its side

Greasy Cut Short Beans

Greasy Cut Short Beans originated in Western North Carolina and are the best green beans you'll ever taste! They're called greasy because they're smooth and shiny, with no peach fuzz on the pod. 
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sides
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 12
Calories: 68kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ pounds greasy short cut beans
  • 4 strips bacon cut into thirds
  • 32 oz. container of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp. seasoned pepper ad
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 onion peeled and quartered

Instructions

  • String and snap green beans into a colander.
  • Rinse with cold water
  • Saute' bacon in a stock pot until almost crispy.
  • Place beans in the pot with bacon and grease.
  • Add chicken or vegetable stock and water to cover the beans.
  • Bring content of pot to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.
  • Add garlic powder, pepper seasoning and salt and stir well.
  • Place onion quarters around beans.
  • Cover pot with a lid and simmer beans for at least one hour until tender.
  • Drain water from beans and serve.

Notes

  • For vegetarian beans, use vegetable stock, omit bacon, and substitute butter.  

Nutrition

Calories: 68kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 439mg | Potassium: 230mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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23 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I do love me some good greasy cut shorts and these were outstandingly Southern yummy good! 🙂

  2. 5 stars
    I have a friend who is a School Vo Ag teacher. He is not familiar with the Short Cut Beans and wants to grow some. How an I get some seeds for him to grow? Thanks for any help. Donna Rosen, WV

  3. 5 stars
    We used this for many years, however, we a no longer find the Short Cut beans. Need Seeds !

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