The Milkweed Diaries

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Local Protein

Yesterday we harvested the first big batch of dry black beans -- Cherokee Trail of Tears Black Beans
(see my previous post for more information on these beautiful and delicious heirloom beans).

I remember my amazement when I first discovered that to grow dry beans, you just let the pods dry on the vine and pick and simple and satisfying! We recently ate the last of last summer's dry beans, and are beginning to pick and shell beans from this year's garden now.

Here's what the pods look like drying on the vine (top photo) - they go from green to purple to purplish-black to black or brown. Here's a basket of harvested dry beans (above).

We could jar them up right away after shelling, but we are drying them on screens (below) to make sure no moisture gets trapped in the jars with them.

We bought a pound of seed from Seed Savers Exchange in the Spring, and had intended to save some beans for seed next year, BUT it appears that the seed is not pure (left). The white seed coat likely points to the seeds having crossed with another variety one generation back (the parent generation of the seeds that we bought). Since we have found one pod (so far) with beans with a white seed coat, so we'll have to contact SSE to let them know it appears the seed we bought was crossed, and we'll need to buy fresh seeds next year in order to preserve the heirloom variety uncorrupted.

Eventually, our goal is to have lots of these to give away and sell (local vegetable protein!) and to ferment these and other dry beans in tempeh and misos. We also hope to save seeds of this variety (once we are sure the seed is not crossed) to share and replant every year...stay tuned!

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