That's what they call them in the market because the plants apparently last for that time, but I hear they're also known as Scarlet Runner Beans. They're not scarlet, but they are delicious.
They're probably my current favourite vegetable, if a bean is a vegetable. About six to eight inches long (we changed to metric in 1972, but who knows how long 17cms is - not me), they are stringless and almost flat with a kind of bumpy zigzag shape rather than straight.
Boil or steam and serve with butter and salt and pepper. Or chopped toasted bacon pieces. Or toasted almond pieces. They have that particular bean flavour, but impart a kind of creamy, velvety taste and texture that complements the butter and salt so well.
On Saturday night (why don't we say 'Saturnight' instead of, illogically, Saturday night? I've always wondered) we had a simple meal of grilled sausages - some of the very best I've found, from a small butcher's shop in Victoria Street, Brunswick, run by a dear old smiling Greek man and his wife. All the signage in the shop was about fifty years old, it was like walking into the past. Why would anyone buy meat in plastic from Coles or Safeway?
Where was I? ... grilled sausages, potato whipped into smooth creaminess and seven year beans with butter and salt and pepper on the side.
Last Sunday we had my son and his family over for dinner. The main course was one of T.'s mum's specialities from the seventies - Mexican Hot Pot (now there's a story - maybe next time) with Seven Year Beans on the side.
Canisha and Shanra sat, in unusual silence, laboriously halving the bean outers with their little fingers, picking the tender beans out from the pods and eating them delicately; then carefully placing the used pods in a pile off to the side. Fully twenty minutes of silent eating!