March 31st, 2002
Elizabeth Berry’s Great Bean Book

Elizabeth Berry’s Great Bean Book.
Elizabeth Berry and Florence Fabricant.
Ten Speed Press. Berkeley, California. 1999.

Elizabeth Berry grows beans on her ranch 85 miles outside of Santa Fe. More specifically, she grows beans for Mark Miller’s Coyote Cafe restaurant. She specializes in unusual and heirloom beans.

Her Great Bean Book book is actually a cookbook. However, in addition to providing a recipe for each type of bean included, there is a detailed description of each. This makes the book a handy reference when perusing seed catalogs, or when shopping at Central Market. Central Market carries a large variety of beans in its bulk food section. And beans are, after all, seeds. I planted a dozen soybeans that I grew from beans we scattered during Setsubun. Buying beans to plant from Central Market is cheaper than buying them from a specialty seed catalog.

I’m glad to learn that the cannellini bean I’m planting this year are among the most versatile of all beans. They are a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris, the common bean.

A recommended black bean variety is ‘Valentine’.

‘Steuben Yellow Eye’, a white bean with golden markings, is recommended for both salads and stew because it has a nice texture and a mellow flavor.

‘Painted Pony’. a relative of the ‘Appaloosa’ and pinto beans, is said to have a rich, nutty flavor.

Rarest bean: ‘Mayflower’, a small round brown bean with white flesh that has a sweet, “winey” flavor.

by M Sinclair Stevens

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