We’ve always planted bush and pole beans (esp. for their nitrogen-fixation benefits), but late last summer, I decided to take a chance and grow plants that produced good, dry shelling beans that we could store for the winter. I chose one with a very unusual pattern, fondly known as “Yin Yang” calypso bean, and which I’d never seen in supermarkets.
The bean plants thrived and produced beautiful seeds just like what you see on catalogs. What I found interesting was that:
- I got an excellent harvest even though they were planted late August (maybe our Mediterranean climate)
- The harvested dry beans are about 2X the size of the bean seeds used to sow the plants!
I shelled them in the fall and stored them in a coffee can, slyly placing it right next to the coffee machine until my wife got fed up and tucked them away on top of the fridge where she’d never see them again. Suffice it to say that the association of the words “beans” and “Roy” motivate her to pack her bags for a distant country.
Luckily, she recently discovered a bean soup recipe in Jacques Pepin’s Fast Food My Way. Recalling how much she missed a hearty chili soup in the winter, and feeling insipired by the photographs, our calypso beans were finally put to work.
Some references indicate you do not need to soak these overnight (just 1 hour in very hot water), but it’s become a habit to do so, as well as change the water every few hours. Also, you should always change the water before you cook the beans. (This practice has kept our marriage intact, BTW.)
The result was a delightful, rich, meaty bean that you can use for bean salads, soups and baking. That coffee can of beans is now sitting on our kitchen counter and will be empty by the week’s end!
Let us know if you’d like more info on growing these beans.