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Let's hear it for heirloom beans

Old-fashioned varieties offer memorable names, rich flavors and impressive health benefits


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You may have heard of heirloom tomatoes, but what about heirloom beans? At the Mohr Fry Ranch in the Sacramento Valley, Kenneth Morris (or as his friends call him, Chip) and his cousin and farming partner Jerry Fry are working hard to introduce a new generation to this old favorite.

What exactly is an heirloom bean? It's actually the history behind the plant: Heirloom varieties come from seeds that have been passed down for several generations and are prized for some feature that makes them distinct. In the United States, heirloom beans come with memorable names such as "tiger eye," "Christmas lima" and "snow cap." And while they were first cultivated in North America generations ago, the beans are just beginning to catch on with consumers seeking new and distinctive foods to sample and cook with.

Someone who enjoys cooking with heirloom beans is our favorite nutrition professor and the healthy eating expert on California Bountiful TV: Timaree Hagenburger.

Timaree says that heirloom beans tend to be both richer in color and flavor, so you don't need a lot of seasoning or ingredients to dress them up. From the snow cap (creamy and great in soups) to the calypso (black and white with a smooth, rich texture), Timaree finds a use for each bean and has helped develop recipes that Chip can use on his website to entice folks to give their specialty products a try.

These beans may not be magical, but they have been transformational for Timaree and Chip. Both have discovered a passion for getting people interested in and educated about the beauty of beans!

For more information about Mohr Fry Ranch's beans, visit www.mohrfry.com/beans.html.

Recipes


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