Basically, this is a recipe involving full green beans – that is, don’t pick the beans until they are full but also still green. My mom generally goes to the local fruit stand to get full shelled beans, but this summer didn’t find any. Luckily, you can freeze the beans once they are completely dried out, so you can still serve them all year.
After picking or buying fresh full beans, dry the beans for 4-5 days in an indoor but sunny, dry place. You can lay the beans out on a cheesecloth or string them up to dry.
*If you freeze the beans, freeze them before soaking them in water and soda. This step should happen when you decide to cook the beans.
Once the beans are dry, soak them for 12 hours in enough water to cover them generously and about 2 tbps of baking soda (for a “big bowl of beans”).
After soaking the beans, boil them in water for 15 minutes. Drain the beans, and return them to fresh water in a pot. Add salt pork and a little fat (lard is fine, or even just some oil of any kind). Cook on a slow boil (med to med-high heat) for 4-5 hours.
These beans are also called “leather britches” probably due to their appearance when still dry.
Shucky beans were a way of preserving beans, probably before refrigeration. The beans could be dried out for a couple weeks before cooking. Though many Appalachian people came over from Scotland, according to this link, the beans were made in Germany many centuries ago too and called getrocken bohne (with some umlauts).