Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Beans of Summer: Rancho Gordo Bean Buddies

Besides growing my usual must-haves, which are snap beans such as Emerite, Royal Burgundy, and runner beans to dry for winter cooking, I grew beans sent to me through Rancho Gordo's Bean Buddies project to trial in my garden this summer. Rancho Gordo initiated this project with gardeners in order to get feedback on the germination, growth, and eating qualities of selected beans.

Shown in the photo above, the seeds I received were: Rattlesnake, Madeira, Jackson Wonder (a lima) and Florida Butter.
I planted all of them, and all grew except the Florida Butter beans (I think I planted too early - not warm enough?).

My summer garden is waning now and I'm collecting all the beans seeds that I can. Since I received very few seeds I figured I would expand them to plant next year and then test them in the kitchen. My dried seeds are in the photo below. I only grew two Madeira bean plants. I had five seeds that survived the shipping, and planted three. I like to keep a couple of beans to compare my own dried seeds with.

Madeira beans have pretty cranberry swirls and the same rosy color on the pod; I'll bet it's a tasty variety for cooking.

Madeira bean pods look like Cranberry bean pods
I didn't eat any of the Jackson Wonder either as I had only a few plants. This one is a bush lima with lovely seeds; I'll save these and also do an expanded planting next summer.

Dried beans clockwise from left: Jackson Wonder, Rattlesnake, Madeira

Rattlesnake Beans

The Rattlesnake beans are fantastic - wow. I ate a few as snap beans, but I saved most of the harvest for seeds. They have great rich flavor as a snap bean and are incredibly tender. They do have a bit of a string, unlike the beans I usually grow to eat fresh, such as Emerite. But they're so good it's worth bothering with the string. I won't have enough to  eat as dry beans, but perhaps next season!

Rattlesnake beans are mottled with purple

The Bean Buddies project is a generous undertaking by the folks at Rancho Gordo. I loved getting a selection of beans in the mail; it was like getting a special present.  I've never grown any of these before so it was a nice addition to my summer garden and I'm thrilled to discover new beans to grow and enjoy.

My backyard garden beds with bean teepees and a trellis of Rattlesnake beans

Photos: Patricia Larenas


  1. My friend Bonnie made hummus out of rancho gordo beans and caramelized onions a little while ago. It was maybe the best hummus I've ever had! I bet you could do something similar out of any of the ones you're growing!

  2. wow- that sounds perfectly delicious. I have traditional hummus in my frig at this very moment. I'll have to try making some with my home grown beans- a great idea! Steve Sando has great recipes too in his heirloom bean cookbook, which I have.

    Thanks Becky, happy Sunday :)

  3. This is great.
    The Madeira are cranberries, developed in Portugal and I think are the largest of the cranberry beans I've ever seen. Be sure and save the biggest if you want to try then again next year.
    The Florida butter beans might need a southern climate to produce but they should have come up. we should check where we got those. We have something similar coming in from the Yucatan and they're even prettier so maybe we can try again next year.
    You are an inspiration! I'm glad you get the romance of beans!

  4. Thanks for your kind comments Steve! I'm a big fan- you've done soooo much to bring back so many heritage beans of diverse types.
    The few Madeira seeds I'm collecting (a few more are still drying) are indeed pretty big. Thanks for the background on them- I'm always curious about the origins of our precious edibles :)

    Cheers, Patricia


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.