It Does Amount to a Hill of Beans
I never knew I cared about dry beans until it became possible that I would have to live without them for a year. Dry beans (and their cooked cousin, canned beans) are a cheap, ubiquitous staple. If you’ve got any.
When I started the 250-Mile Diet, I only had about a cup of black beans and a cup of white navy beans in the pantry. A fellow CSA member said “No worries, you can get them at the Grand Army Plaza farmers market in early fall.” So I forgot about beans for a while.
Then early fall came and went and no local dry beans were to be found. I searched online. I asked around at the farmers markets. I asked my CSA farmer. I started stockpiling shellbeans, cooking some of them fresh but letting others dry in their pods to be shelled later as dry beans. By the end of the season I had maybe a pint of locally grown dry beans, with the next potential harvest not until late-August.
In December I went to the one day only Wintermarket. It was snowing hard and the vendors and farmers, bless them, were standing outside under the awning of the former Fulton Fish Market. And there on one of the tables were white beans and pinto beans and black beans. Yay! I bought some of each and got the name of the grower, Cayuga Pure Organics. I emailed them that night thinking my bean woes were past.
I’ve been emailing back and forth with Shamus at Cayuga Pure Organics ever since trying to figure out the most cost effective way to get me some locally grown beans. They are a wonderful company, very supportive of my local eating commitment, and eager to find places to sell their beans in New York City. But it’s tough because beans are ubiquitous and cheap and heavy (think shipping cost) and nobody really thinks about them until, well, until they do.
These are delicious beans, by the way, with a shorter cooking time than those dusty bags of Goya pebbles on your supermarket shelf. In case you didn’t know (I kind of did, but hadn’t really thought about it), the older dry beans are the longer they will take to cook, even after an overnight soak. After soaking my first batch of local black beans overnight I had to run to work and didn’t get around to checking on them until the following evening. They had sprouted. We’re talking fresh, people!
Today I made a three bean salad using two kinds of Cayuga’s beans, a jar of my dilly green beans, and some of my home-canned corn relish, plus homegrown dried chile pepper for kick. Delicious!
P.S.-If you live in New York City and would like to go in on some locally grown Cayuga beans with me, we could split the shipping cost and save a bit. Let me know.