If you subscribe to our newsletters than you’ve probably read quite a bit about some of our favorite Summer bean varietals over the past few months, but as of yet we hadn’t combined all the deliciousness into one Blog. Now we’ve added some additional late Summer, and early Fall favorites into the mix so your beany culinary dreams can reach new heights as you contemplate all these unique and flavorful options (all of which are still available through the end of Summer). So here’s the rundown on how to recognize your favorites, what the differences are in terms of flavor and texture, and why you should give some of these more unusual beans a chance!
Cranberry Beans – Cranberry shelling bean pods are easy to spot with their speckled red and yellow shell, and include an average of 5-6 ivory colored beans per pod (which are also highlighted with the bright red dapples of the exterior). When raw, the beans are fairly earthy, with a starchy and grassy flavor – however, once cooked the beans develop a creamy texture and rich, sweet, chestnut-like flavor. They can be harvested fresh as a pod, or left on the vines and used as dried beans.
Either, fresh or dried, Cranberry beans are great in the kitchen. Once shelled, fresh ones can be canned, pickled, or frozen – and cooked, where upon they absorb the accompanying flavors around them, making them a great companion to bold and savory ingredients. Simmer them in chicken stock until tender and creamy and then use them tossed with roasted veggies and crispy gnocchi, stew them into a ragout with fresh corn and tomatoes, or puree with sorrel into a soup.
They pair great with strong and salty or sour flavors like Pancetta and bacon, artichoke hearts, citrus, as well as both Mild and Hot Chiles. Basil and Cilantro are great herbs to use with them, and Aged Pecorino and Feta are the most complimentary cheeses.
Dragon Tongue Beans – Dragon Tongue Beans are entirely edible including the bean, shell, and seed. The younger beans are a yellow to cream color, and when their purple markings begin to appear they’ve reached a mature enough stage to harvest. These fresh and immature pods have a succulent and crisp texture and typically contain 4-5 white seeds with small purple to pink stripes, and which are snappy and firm with a sweet and nutty, and slightly starchy flavor. As mentioned, these immature beans can be eaten in their entirety – either fresh or cooked (note: when cooked they will lose their bright purple coloring). If left to mature fully, the purple on the beans will change to a deep red, and these more mature seeds can be shelled and used as is, or they are ideal for leaving in their pods to dry and later use as a dried bean.
French Filet Beans – Is a term given to an array of varietals of immature green beans which are primarily cultivated for their pods versus their seeds. Harvested young, these stringless edible pods come in both purple and green (although when cooked the purple loses its hue). Known for their crisp texture and earthy bright flavor with just a hint of sweetness, these beans are great served raw when young and tender, or only lightly cooked to preserve their crisp texture.
Scarlet Runner Beans – The long and large bright green pods of the Scarlet Runner hide a deceptively unique and beautiful bean within. The kidney shaped beans inside range in color from purple to violet to light pink to almost vibrant fuscia – and are often a speckled blend of the two. Once cooked the starchy beans are creamy with a strong nutty savory flavor. Both the bean pods and their striking (often scarlet) flowers are edible as well, with a mild bean flavor.
Because of their large size and heartier skin, Scarlet Runner Beans take a little longer than your average bean to cook. Shelled beans should be booked before eating, and if using dry ones they’ll benefit from an overnight soaking before cooking. Their large size and starchiness also make them a popular source of protein in vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Yardlong Beans – Also referred to as Yardbeans, Long, or Chinese Long beans, they come in purple, green and light green. The average length is anywhere between one and one and a half feet long. They taste similar to green beans, their texture is distinct. The beans are best cooked with oil: sauteed, stir-fried, or deep-fried, where their flavor intensifies and their texture remains tight and juicy.
Yellow Wax Beans – These long yellow wheat colored pods are stringless and house small bright lime green legumes (which despite their name are not particularly wax-ey). Typically harvested young, they are known for their succulent, crisp and yet tender texture and sweet earthy flavor, with both grassy and nutty undertones. In terms of prep and cooking, treat them as you would classic green beans or french beans. These have a particularly radiant yellow color and fresh sappy flavor and come to us from Brentwood, CA.