Our Fresh Dried Beans!

At Cedar Circle Farm, we grow a number of different types of dry beans of many shapes and sizes. Especially in New England, bean cultivars are almost endless, some having no name and being grown only within a family or circle of close friends. Such heirloom beans are passed from generation to generation and we love reviving the tradition of them. Take your pick… color, size, texture, toughness of seed coat, taste, and gastronomic qualities dictate certain types for certain purposes. Here are some recipes which highlight the flavor of each bean, however feel free to experiment and create your own bean flavor combination! For more info on how to cook beans and their nutrition, visit Cooking Fresh Dried Beans.

Growing Dry Beans Dry beans are one of the easiest crops to produce organically. However, many farms don’t grow them because of the work involved in their processing. They are a member of the legume family meaning they produce at least a part of their own nitrogen supply with the help of symbiotic bacteria, which live in nodules on the roots. Because of this, far less fertilizer is required for beans in comparison to other food crops. Also, the crop takes little maintenance during growth. After full maturation in the fall, the bean plants begin to die back in the field. In late October or early November, depending on the weather conditions, we look for the plants to die back and dry out completely. At that time, we use our combine to harvest the beans. This awesome machine is called a “combine” because it combines the task of harvesting and threshing and does both at the same time. Threshing is the task of removing the beans from their pod. After threshing, the beans have to be winnowed to remove any pieces of the pod that still remain. We have an electric and hand-crank winnow system. Finally, the beans are sorted to remove any bad or moldy beans. At this point they are ready to package and sell or to store for the winter.

Types of Dry Beans:

Black Beans: Black Turtle beans originated in southern Mexico and Central America over 7,000 years ago. Coco shelling beans are an heirloom variety from France. Both are delicious and full-flavored. We encourage you to use them as you would black beans and notice the unique complexity of their flavor.

Black Coco Typically have a strong,earthy flavor and are a favorite of Caribbean and Latin American foods. They make an especially great soup or baked bean. Use them like a navy bean.

Black Turtle A small black bean with a particularly rich and full flavor. It’s a favorite in southern Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. Great with rice and meat, particularly good in soups and casseroles. They are great in this Black Bean Chili.

Calypso Are either black and white, or red and white. Ours are black and white. Don’t get too attached to the striking contrast, because it fades dramatically with cooking. Calypso beans hold their shape if you don’t cook them to death. They taste similar to the Italian white cannellini bean, only a little nutty. The plants are dependable and early yielding. They are also widely adapted to many climates.

Vermont Cranberry (aka: borlotti, Roman, or crab eye bean) These beans have an exceptional flavor! They taste slightly nutty and are typically used in Italian dishes. These are also similar to Pinto and Tongues of Fire. They store very well. These beans are particularly well-suited to short seasons and cool climates. Here is a yummy recipe for Vermont Cranberry Bean and Warm Radicchio Salad.

King of the Early Often used in chili, refried beans, baked beans, soups and salads. Like a Jacob’s cattle bean. Here is a wonderful recipe for Maple Baked Beans.

Tongue of Fire This devilish-sounding bean is not fiery in flavor. Most commonly used for refried beans and chili. Use it as you would Cranberry, Pinto, or Kidney.

Dark Red Kidney Beans The kidney bean is named for its visual resemblance in shape and color to a human kidney. They have a mild flavor, a thin skin and a silky and flaky texture. They are commonly used in chili soup, chili con carne and are an integral part of the cuisine in northern regions of India. The plants are widely adapted and are suitable to cooler wet climates like the Northeast. Try them in this fresh summer salad: Fennel, Bean and Pasta Salad or in a hearty and creamy Red Bean and Cashew Salad.

Tiger Eye A variety that is simply gorgeous in color and pattern, with a golden hue and a maroon swirl. Also called Pepa de Zapallo, they are originally from Argentina and Chile. Among the most beautiful of all beans, bright golden ochre with maroon swirls. As they dry, their golden hue gets brighter. They make delicious baked beans with rich full-bodied flavor.

Agate Pinto Beans This is a yummy Corn, Bean and Pumpkin Stew with pinto beans.

Hutterite Soup Bean The Hutterites, a communal Anabaptist sect, endured persecution in Europe and then came to South Dakota from the Ukraine in the 1870s. This bean has been credited to their cultural heritage, though there is no certain evidence to back this. It also may be a Russian selection of the China Yellow bean that has been grown by Americans and Canadians since the 1820s. Either way, we love this bean. The greenish-tan plump beans with a charcoal ring around the hilum cook into delicious creamy soup in a little under an hour which is a great alternative to longer cooking beans.

Jacob’s Cattle This bean originated on Prince Edward Island. Legend has it that it was a gift from Maine’s Passamaquoddy Indians to Joseph Clark, the first white child born in Lubec, Maine. It is a plump, white and red speckled, kidney-shaped bean with beautiful maroon splashes. It is full-flavored, and holds its shape under long cooking, standing up well to plenty of seasoning. This is an awesome and rich recipe for Jacob’s Cattle Bean Soup with Kale & Chevre.

Kenearly Yellow Eye Kenearly is a selection of the Yellow Eye bean. It was developed at the Kentville, Nova Scotia research station. It is a plump oval medium-sized bean and is cream-colored with a yellow eye. They are delicious in this Curry with Mustard Greens, Tomatoes, and Sweet Potatoes.

Soldier Large drought-tolerant white kidney beans with red-brown soldier-like figures on the eyes.

Silver Cloud Cannelini This variety is a wonderful bean well-adapted for yield and disease resistance. It was bred by Washington State University as an imporvement over the heirloom variety. Traditionally used in Italian dishes, they have a mild, delicate flavor and a creamy texture. Perfect for this dip: White Bean Pate.


CCF staff
Slow Food USA
High Mowing Organic Seeds
Northern Grain Growers Association
Fedco Seeds

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