Match-up game! Draw a line from the hat to the heirloom bean’s best match:
Panama Hat Pinto
Pork Pie Lima
Tweed Cap Butterbeans
Fedora European Solider
Wide Brim Derby Appaloosa
Just as there are hats for every need, taste, or occasion, so there is a bean. Beans grow in every part of the world, touch every cuisine, and nourish the planet as one of its most complete foods. Beyond the basic red, black, and white beans we are most familiar with, there are thousands of heirloom bean varieties that have been passed down neighbor-to-neighbor and generation-to-generation. Take the bag of dried beans in our TakeHome boxes this week. They are a variety called Good Mother Stallard, grown in Thornton, CA (San Joaquin County), and brought to us by bean aficionado Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo.
Good Mother Stallards are one on Steve’s favorite beans, but he doesn't want to get caught saying that in front of the other varieties. When Steve started Rancho Gordo he became a seed saver and curator of beans. Rancho Gordo grows their heirloom beans in the Napa Valley, in Thornton, and a couple of other California locations. They work with family farmers in Hidalgo, Mexico to help maintain a delicious library of indigenous varieties. “The best way to save the endangered beans is by eating them!” says Steve.
There are numerous opinions on how to cook beans, the first fork in the road being to “soak or not to soak.” Steve soaks but reminds you not to fret if you don’t, “it will just take a little longer to cook.” One option that doesn't require soaking is the oven method, which is ideal if you have a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Preheat oven to 250 °. Wash and sort beans. Put 2 ½ cups water per cup of dry beans in the Dutch oven, place on stove, bring to a boil. Transfer hot pot of beans to oven for 30 minutes. Add 2 teaspoons salt per 1 cup of original dry beans. Check for doneness after 50 minutes. This is a good time to add other ingredients for a one-pot meal. But to enjoy the dense and delicious flavor of Good Mother Stallard beans, Steve suggest a light touch. “Just some onion, garlic, and a splash of olive oil is all you need for a luscious bean fiesta.”
- Heidi Lewis