Wild Black Beans from Hidalgo, the New Year and a New Project

I wish I had news for all of you who wrote asking for substitutes for Black Eyed Pea. It's a southern new year's tradition but it really doesn't include a New World bean so I'm not too keen on offering advice. Personally, it seems to me if you start the new year out with a big bowl of any kind of beans, you are on the road to creating your own luck.


Over the weekend some friends came over for a last minute dinner party. We poached a chicken, made homemade tortillas and salsas and for the beans, we tried the black beans from Hidalgo that Yunuen and Gabriel sent. I was happy to have the beans but black beans are black beans in my mind so I wasn't prepared for the bean joy that exploded in my mouth. The beans were great but the "caldo", or bean broth was incredible. Rich, deep and almost chocolaty, some of my guests were literally licking their plates. OK, I confess these particular guests were 8 and 10 years old, but it warmed my heart to see their bad manners!

A pallet of these are reportedly on their way to our warehouse. They were in Laredo, Texas on Friday. We'll clean them and bag them as soon as possible.


I've tried to not let on too much about this project, fearing it may not pan out, but things really look good. In short, I'm working with my friends in Hidalgo to import heirloom, heritage, fresh beans grown by small farmers.These farmers are given the shaft time and again and now barely grow enough of their own beans for their own use. NAFTA and free trade policies have opened the door to some really cheap, awful imports into Mexico. We're trying to create a small market for the heirloom, regional beans that are in danger of being forgotten.

When we start selling these beans, they'll be clearly noted as imports, and not part of our regular production here in Northern California. I still support our local ag scene but this is an exciting opportunity to make a small difference in reversing some of the damage that our policiess have brought to our neighbors. I'm not qualified to criticize the overall effect of our foreign policies. I just know we need to save these beans and we might just do it, a little at a time.

I don't want to give the impression that this is all charity or I'm particularly kind and wonderful. The bottom line is these beans are delicious and I'm hoping to sell the hell out of them. We all win on this one! I'll post more details as they develop.

5 Comments on Wild Black Beans from Hidalgo, the New Year and a New Project

  1. I can’t tell you how much I support this, whole heartedly. Can we pre-order?
    Also Steve, couldn’t you do the same with corn? I grind every other, or third day, using my Nixtamatic & the best organic dent corn I can find. I’m super happy but still would prefer Mexican corn. I do know the demand would be limited….

  2. I am so excited that this is going forward and working out for you. I hope to be one of those people jumping up and down in line going “bean me! bean me!”
    uh, metaphorically of course. Happy new year Steve!

  3. Corn isn’t out of the question. I want it too! The beans are not as clean as we’re used to but I’m hoping we can get past that. Or maybe we’ve spoiled our customers. So much of the cleaning happens in the field so small debris is inevitable.

    I’m happy to “bean” one and all!

  4. Happy New Year, Steve! This is something truly worth doing and I send my best wishes for a resounding success.

  5. I received your Heirloom Beans cookbook as a Christmas gift, orders a bunch of beans, and have made beans every weekend since! To take a comment from Vanessa Barrington, once I started cooking and eating them, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the tempation to create new dishes. With that in mind, I’m writing about Fava beans. I’ve gathered a few recipes from a favorite publication of mine (“Food and Wine”) that call for fava beans. I purchased favas at my local organic grocery store, but the beans did not turn out well at all! I haven’t seen favas in your online store. Any suggestions for cooking those that I buy at the big stores or for a substitute? Better yet, will you be offering fava beans at some point?

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.