The Popularity of Dried Beans. Move Over Stupid Kale.

Last summer I grew heirloom dried beans and this summer I finally cooked some up and taste tested them. The results? A clear winner among the beans and a delicious bean salad.

Dried beans are having a bit of a moment. I mean not a kale or a quinoa moment but a moment nonetheless.  Part of the reason for that is the rise in those wacky vegans and vegetarians.  Then there are the rest of the wackies (myself included) who only eat meat a couple of times a week either for health or ethical reasons. Or maybe that’s all you crave.  That’s a good answer too.  Not every decision you make has to have some sort of moral superiority issue attached to it.

BEANS are a good substitute for meat in terms of nutritional values and even consistency.  Beans DON’T  have some of the essential amino acids that meat does which means even though they have high protein values they’re an incomplete protein.  Just so you know.  But don’t worry about it.  They make up for it by having zero fat or cholesterol.

MY LATEST VIDEOS

 

But really the number one reason I’ve been getting into dried beans is because they’re pretty.

See? I told you not every decision you make has to be based on what’ll make you look like a better person on social media. Sometimes you can just be the asshole who likes pretty things.

These particular dried beans I got from blogging friend Crystal from Wholefed Homestead. They are rare and in some cases *extremely* rare bean seeds.

Which is why it was so very upsetting when I killed every single one that I planted last spring.

Not on purpose of course. I just didn’t protect the seedlings from whatever ended up eating them down to the dirt.  Luckily I saved a couple of each of the seeds and could replant them.  Other than the flat white beans which I sourced from another Internet friend Karen, at Michigan Heirlooms.

Rare Beans

Top left (flat white beans) – Lengua de Lobo (Wolf’s Tongue)

Top right (yellow & white beans) – Zuni Gold

Middle  left (dark purple with specks) – Stangenbohne Rassacher Kipfler

Middle right (light purple) – Blooming Prairie

 

I did end up completely losing one called Stangengohne Whitsenhausen, which was probably the most beautiful bean.  It’s the bean in the upper right corner of this photo in sort of sherbert colours. I will make up for my loss by just eating actual sherbert.

I cooked up my varieties in separate pots and started tasting.

HOW TO COOK DRY BEANS

People have all kinds of fears about cooking dried beans because you have to think ahead and presoak them.  But guess what?  You don’t really have to presoak them.

  1. Just boil them.  If you’re making a bean salad you really just need to boil the beans in slightly salted water.
  2. You don’t need to presoak them overnight, you may just need to increase the time you simmer them.
  3. They’ll take between 1-2 hours of simmering depending on the bean and how old it is. All you’re doing is reconstituting the bean. You just have to keep checking them to see if they’re done. When they’re done the skins will curl up when you blow on them. Also they’ll break in half easily and be soft and creamy when you bite into them.

All of these beans took different amounts of time to cook and tasted completely different.

 

Side by side comparison of cooked versus dried beans

Sadly, as you can see, beans don’t retain their spectacular colour after cooking. Which let me tell you DOES take a lot of the fun out of it, but it was expected. Each bean cooked up to various shades of brown.

What was most surprising to me is that there was a clear, runaway WINNER in terms of taste and texture.

I really didn’t expect there to be much difference but there was.

The extremely rare Stangenbohne Rassacher Kipfler (dark purple with speckles shown at the top of the last photo) was hands down the most flavourful and creamiest bean. Which makes no sense!  Why would the RAREST bean be the best? You would think the rarest bean is the rarest because it kind of sucked and everyone stopped growing and eating it.

That’s not the case here.  It’s a great example of why seed saving and sharing is so important. We as a human race are DEPRIVING OURSELVES OF GOOD FOOD.

Idiots.

The beans were all good and I love to have the variety so I’m going to take the few beans I have left and grow more of each of them next year.

This was about 1/3rd of my haul from last year. It wasn’t a great year for my dried beans what with some random pest eating them alive at the beginning of the season.

And here’s the rest of my harvest from last season if you’re interested.

If you’re wondering, you grow dried beans exactly the same as you grow regular beans.  You just don’t pick them until they’ve dried on the vine.  Simple. Then you get to sit with a pile of them in the fall popping them out of their pods.

After the taste test I mixed up all the beans and made the easy bean salad I make all the time.

The only ingredients are lemon juice, olive oil, feta cheese, beans and red onion.  And a sprinkling of salt of course.

It’s filling, delicious and can be a whole meal or a side dish. Plus you can make and dress it in advance then leave it in the fridge to “steep” for several days.

Heirloom Bean Salad

An easy bean salad you can make with dried or canned beans.
5 from 7 votes
Print Pin Rate
Author: Karen

Ingredients

  • beans dried or canned
  • Feta cheese
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • red onion

Instructions

  • If using dried beans, bring beans to a boil in salted water and then let simmer until tender. You may need to add more water as they cook. Cooking time varies from 1-2 hours depending on the bean.
  • Drain the beans and drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over them and do the same with lemon juice.  
  • Taste to see if additional salt is needed, sprinkle the beans with salt and mix.
  • Top with feta cheese and thinly sliced red onion.

Notes

You can use any canned beans for this as well. Just rinse and drain the beans. It's especially good made with 100% chick peas.

Please.  For the love of all that is holy, help give dried beans their moment in the sun.  I think Kale has been hogging the spotlight for quite long enough. What with the fact that no none even likes kale, it seems like the right thing to do.
 

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

61 Comments

  1. Carol says:

    Very informative! I like beans. The recipe looked good! And I didn’t know how they grew even though I have a garden. I should grow some! Can you get organic beans to grow at the store?

  2. Gene says:

    Thanks for giving beans the attention they deserve.

    You might try Anasazi beans from Colorado. Or canary beans, available everywhere.

  3. Brenda says:

    My husband has a way of cooking kale that makes it so, so crave-able. We had it in Germany at a Christmas market; he begged the vendor for the recipe, and we’ve been enjoying it since. We also love dried beans, and they are an important staple in our house. Our children always request them when they come home for visits; always with piping hot cornbread dripping with butter.

  4. Marna says:

    Wonderful colors! I grew up eating various types of beans, and I did the same with my kids also. I got my kids to like beans by letting them grow some of their own. That definitely worked! I would love the purple beans, especially since they sound so good. Thanks 🙂

  5. Ritz says:

    I love me some beans, too! Just got some Tarbais beans to make a cassoulet.

  6. Linda says:

    You are reaching the point at which I can admire you it never aspire to be you.

  7. TucsonPatty says:

    I love my beans! I remember back in the olden days when we vegetarians were cautioned that “You must eat this plus this in the same meal in order to make a complete protein”. Then they said “You must eat those two things in the same day”. Now they realize you just pretty much eat those beans and grains somewhere in the same I don’t know – month? year?, in order to not die of malnutrition. I’ve not eaten meat for 35 years or so, and my love affair with beans continues. I would love to taste the wonderful bean of which you speak, but I consistently kill every plant ever purchased or gifted to me. (I honestly don’t know how my daughter made it to the 27 year mark!) I wonder if I could ever buy enough to cook a meal? Is there another, more common bean to which you might liken the taste?
    Thanks for the great information. I love the before colors, too.

    • Grammy Kate says:

      Patty, I love to cook and eat dried beans but the side effects (if you know what I mean) are severe for me. Do you have any advice on how to deal with the gas? Does your body adjust over time so that you can go out in public after consumption?

    • Kristina says:

      Have you ever tried Rancho Gordo beans? They sell lots of heirloom varieties of dried beans. We have them in some grocery stores out here in CA, but you can buy them online. A little pricey, but really good, and lots of variety. Their website also has recipes.

      • Nancy says:

        I love Rancho Gordo beans too. They are so fresh that it takes little time to cook them. They even have a Bean Club. I joined for a while. Steve often included rare beans from their Mexico projects. Yummy!

    • Karen says:

      Not really I’m afraid. :/ I have a hunch that fresh, homegrown dried beans are just different than anything you can buy. If I were you I’d try looking for dried beans maybe at different places than the grocery store. Maybe markets or specialty stores? I know the best chick peas I’ve ever had (and they were canned) were from a place in Italy and I could only get that at one Italian specialty store. They’ve since stopped carrying them which is why I’m growing my own this year to see how it goes. All this to say, try some specialty stores for dried beans and maybe you’ll come closer to homegrown dried beans. 🙂 ~ karen!

      • Nicole Graham says:

        I’ve bought dried beans at the store and grew them successfully but they must be organic in order to sprout well.

  8. Lynn says:

    I have never had any luck rejuvenating Dry Beans 😔. I have tried over the years but always I have failed 🥺.
    I like Beans I would just prefer if I didn’t have to buy the canned ones.

    • Karen says:

      It could be that the beans are old. The older they are the more dehydrated and the harder they are to rehydrate. THOSE types of beans could use a bit of help by soaking them overnight and then simmering them the next day. It could also be that you’re cooking them at too high a temperature (at a boil or close) so the outside is turning to mush but the inside isn’t getting cooked. Try cooking them more slowly on the stove or using a slow cooker. 🙂 ~ karen!

  9. Madeline says:

    Hi Karen, do you think it would spoil the taste to cook the beans in a pressure cooker? If not, for how long would you cook them under pressure, or does it depend on the freshness of the dried bean?

    • Yolanda Baird says:

      I grew up in New Mexico, and because of the altitude, my mom always cooked them in a pressure cooker. I know Karen isn’t a fan of the instapot, but for beans it is the bomb. I use the pressure setting “beans” and cook them on high for 50 minutes (We like them soft!)

    • Hi, we always use our pressure cooker for dried beans—our “presoak” is just cooking them in water on high for 3-4 minutes, then rinse them off, rinse out the pot and put them back in with fresh water for 30-40 minutes on high. This is for pintos. Black and navy and other smaller beans would need less time. Just experiment with what ones you like.

    • Idaho Girl says:

      Madeline, I switched over to cooking beans in an electric pressure cooker when I got one a few years ago, and that’s the only way I do them anymore. It’s super easy, especially since you don’t have to keep a close eye on it like you do with stovetop preparation. Just make sure you use enough liquid–I like to use broth to add a little extra flavor–and experiment with cooking time, depending on what beans you use.

    • Karen says:

      I don’t think it would spoil the taste but to me it’s just as easy to simmer them on the stove. Since I don’t do them under pressure I’m not sure about the time frame but I imagine it would be around 15 minutes as a guess. Longer if the beans are store bought (therefore older). ~ karen!

    • Janet says:

      I do mine in the pressure cooker all the time. I cook them for 30 minutes without pre-soaking and let them sit in the pot all day. I rinse them before using. They are a little chewy, which I like.

  10. dragonfllyer says:

    Ooooh – you want pretty – did you find this?
    https://www.abeancollectorswindow.com/networkpage2.html

    I’ve been getting more into beans too, but I don’t have anywhere to grow them…

  11. Suz says:

    Seedy Saturday is this wknd, here, so this is very timely!
    Why do rare bean varieties stay rare? I mean, if a seed is hard to source, why doesn’t the source increase their production? Or is it a niche market that thrives on the scarcity?
    I had no idea that dried beans were grown and dried as part of the growing process.

    So, dried beans and mouse melons on my list for Saturday!

    • Karen says:

      The goal is that they don’t stay rare. But it takes a lot of sowing and sharing to bring them back. Glass Gem corn is a good example. It was very rare but after some growing, sharing, selling and marketing it’s quite readily available. Which is a good thing. ~ karen!

  12. Celeste says:

    I would LOVE to be able to grow those Stangenbohne Rassacher Kipfler beans!! Any hints to where I could possibly source these?

  13. Pattie Meyers says:

    Karen, you’re killing me. I’m a serious dried bean lover/cooker, but I’ve been ketoing for a year now, so no beans for me. I miss them more than bread! Especially Anasazi. Easy to find here in Texas. Jealous of your rare heirloom taste tests. I love how you dig in to your interests – so cool.

    • Karen says:

      I was pretty surprised at the difference. ALL were good though. I’d like to grow Orka (Yin Yang) this year if I can find some. ~ karen!

  14. Ruth says:

    Karen….are all your beans given to you, and saved from the previous year….or do you have a mail order sight that you recommend?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ruth. All of these were given to me. Because they’re so rare most of them aren’t even available for sale anywhere. They’re simply shared. ~ karen!

  15. Jane JACOBSEN says:

    Hi. Karen,
    Have you come across Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo? The man is a fanatic about beans. He doesn’t carry the varieties you mention, but he does have a huge array of others. Most of which are heirlooms, accompanied by recipes and stories. He also works with native growers in Mexico and California to sell some of the rare beans they grow and provide a decent living to subsistence farmers
    He appreciates beans even more than you do.
    I’m going to try growing Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans this year. Beautiful shiny deep black with a story to go with them.

    • Karen says:

      Oh, I’m new to bean obsession so I’m sure this Steve guy is MUCH more fanatical about them than I am, lol. They’re EASY to become obsessed with. ~ karen!

  16. Susan says:

    Hi Karen –

    I love dried beans, and especially love “soupy” dried beans paired with a ham bone and either rice or corn bread. My favorite recipe includes bringing the dried beans just to a boil, then covering and leaving them overnight to soak. Drain in the morning, then in a dutch oven soften a large chopped onion in butter, add 2 cloves of chopped garlic and soften, add a ham bone with some meat attached, add back the beans and 2 cartons of chicken or vegetable broth, one TBS of packed brown sugar, salt, 1 bay leaf and a sprinkle of marjoram. Cover and simmer on low for at least 2 hours and serve with rice or cornbread and hot chow-chow. Yummm. Pair dried beans with rice to make a complete protein.

  17. The only time I’ve let beans dry on the vine was for seed saving, which I do every year. But they’re a $#@%& to harvest once the stem has shriveled. Clippers are always needed. That being said, we eat a LOT of garbanzo beans….Every year I say I’m gonna give ’em a whirl.

  18. Marilyn Meagher says:

    Yummy

  19. Mike says:

    Beautiful beans! I love your recipe format, is it a plug-in???

  20. MaryJo says:

    “Not every decision you make has to have some sort of moral superiority issue attached to it.” Love that comment, Karen! And your recipe sounds great.

    • Elaine says:

      Ha! I loved that too, Maryjo! I wish I had Karen’s talent for articulating a thought, or opinion, like that example. I might think like her at that moment but I can’t verbalize it in her succinct manner.

  21. Leslie says:

    Did you figure out some way to keep pests off the plants? I’m assuming plants are pretty tall. Probably too many and too tall to cover?
    Thanks for the inspiration. Beans are great.
    And yes, not really hard to cook on stove. But I have tried Instant Pot and they are quite delicious!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Leslie! You really only have to worry about pests when the plants are very small. In the seedling stage. That’s when rabbits or voles or whatever else can come and eat them down to the ground when they’re tender. This year I’m probably going to stick large plastic pop bottles over them while they’re in the early stages of growing. I’ll just cut the bottom off of the bottle and push them into the ground over each plant. ~ karen!

  22. Cottontail Farm says:

    Ok, ok. I’ll put in another seed order. Since you insist. Baker Creek Heirloom seeds here I come. Lol.

  23. Laura Causey says:

    Good lord i hate kale, always grow beans.

  24. Vikki says:

    If you want to avoid the bad side effects some people have after eating beans (making you unfit for polite society), just soak them overnight then drain off the water. Refill and cook. Problem solved!

  25. PegB says:

    Great blog post, Karen. Beans throught the land thank you for the promotion. I love green beans, black beans, red brans, garbanza beans, brown beans and chick peas. Your dry beans are beautiful. I was bummbed they all turned brown. I make a delish chicken ceasar salad topped with chick peas or garbanza beans, whichever ai have on hand. They add good flavor.

  26. Nic says:

    I find the end bit especially hilarious because Beans & Greens (which we do make with kale) is a dish on regular rotation in my house and has been for a few years now.
    In any case, those dried beans are soooo pretty!

  27. Elizabeth says:

    I know I’m late to the party here but the EASIEST way to cook beans is in the oven. Put dried beans in a dutch oven. Pour lots of boiling water over top. Put the lid on and put in the oven ( 250″F) for two hours (more for chick peas) You don’t have to worry about checking if the water is at a simmer, or has stopped boiling or is boiling too hard like on the stove. It’s freeing. And idiot proof. It’s the only way I cook dried beans .

  28. Leah says:

    I’m so excited to have found you! I read one of your articles (on one of my “I’m bored, so I’m gonna search Google for something… ” days. What a wonderful find! I’m a country girl trapped in a Senior Community, and your Site is like breathing Country Air!!! Thanx ☺!!

  29. Neelam says:

    Hi Karen.
    I loved the colors of the dried beans. I e never seen them anywhere!! Just regular red kidney beans, black eyed and pink beans sold in cans.
    Here’s my recipe.
    Boil them with salt, chili powder and some garlic. When it’s cooked through, heat up some oil or butter in a small pan, sizzle some chopped garlic in it. You can add some ginger too if you like, and chili peppers if you prefer it more spicy. When the garlic browns, add some cumin seeds and dunk it over the beans. Yummmmm. Me and my kids could eat that everyday.
    We usually have it with rice or bread, but I’ve taken to eating it by itself. Warm beans and some cold yogurt if it turns out too spicy for my mouth to handle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The Art of Doing Stuff