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Plantidote of the Day 2011-11-07

twig's picture

lima beans

Phaseolus lunatus

Lima beans

These lima beans have been soaking for a few hours, which is why they have what looks like a ruffle around the edges. After they're soaked and rinsed, they'll go into a Dutch oven with other stuff and cook for nearly four hours on very low heat. When they come out, they'll be Slow Baked Beans with Kale. Yes, it's really, really good, and also a great excuse to have the oven on (it's quite cold here, by our standards).

Lima beans -- and other types -- have been grown in South America for thousands of years. The indigenous people relied on beans, rather than meat, for protein, so they grew all kinds. On a cooking show recently, there was a whole discussion about beans that was actually quite interesting. It turns out that the plastic-bagged beans at the supermarket are a pale imitation of the real thing. Part of the problem is that many of those commercial beans have been stored for as long as ten years! No wonder they have so little flavor. One of these days, I'm going to look into better bean sources. Or maybe someone here has done the legwork and would like to share ;-) In which case, thank you in advance!

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insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Recently, I attended a hand-on cooking class on beans and Central American cooking. The bean guru Steve Santos talked about the many types of beans grown in Latin America. Steve has a shop here in Napa called Rancho Gordo. Dozens and dozens of different beans. You can cook and eat them and also save a dozen or so to plant next spring. Fresh and versatile.

check it out:
www.ranchogordo.com/

I managed to grow 4 different beans this year and have dried and stored about 8 pounds to use over the coming cold months. YUMM!

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Rancho Gordo was mentioned in a couple of cooking blogs, and it looks like they have great beans. Do the fresher ones taste any different?

insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Steve Santos said that the length of time to cook beans depends on freshness. Did you ever cook a pot of beans that never seems to get soft? That means they are too old. Fresh beans cook faster and more evenly. Also, vitamins and minerals are supposedly more abundant in fresh beans.

He also soaks his beans for 6 to 8 hours and uses the soak water in the cooking. He believes that nutrients may leech into the soaking water so it best to cook beans in that.
He uses an herb called Epazote. It helps lessen the gaseous effects of beans.

I know that Johnny's Seeds sells the seed for Epazote.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

thanks again.

There should be research into nutritional content of dried vs fresh beans. I'll see if I can track it down. On the other hand, if they simply taste better, that's a pretty good reason to go with fresher. Time for some experimentation -- yummmm!!

insanelysane's picture
Submitted by insanelysane on

Most shelling beans can also be harvested while juvenile green beans and eaten fresh. These have much less protein than if allowed to mature into shelling beans. The beans you buy in market may have been stored for years. They lose their nutritional value with time.
So, I was comparing freshly shelled/dried beans vs. older stored shell beans.