Friday, February 25, 2011

The Bird Egg Bean Story & Recipe

We're having yet another snow event this morning in northern Pennsylvania. Arthur is enjoying a two-hour delay to the start of school and he's immersed in his new apple growing book. (The call just came that school is closed today!)
Our contribution to the recent potluck growers' event last weekend was a pot of baked bird egg beans. The seeds for these beans (similar to French Horticultural Beans) have been saved year to year since they were introduced to this Pennsylvania farm by the Gooch family from West Virginia when two Gooch siblings married two Metzger siblings in the 1940s.
I enjoy introducing others to these tasty beans that are a favorite of our whole family. They're shell beans that we've grown on fences the past few years, though they also do well twining near the ground. The sturdy plants put out colorful pink and green pods filled with 6 - 10 fat beans that are beautifully speckled – burgundy and cream colored.
They're blanched briefly and then frozen. The family enjoys them cooked with a generous amount of butter in the cooking water, served with salt rising bread.
We've been experimenting with other ways of using them and I modified the following recipe from one of the Moosewood cookbooks.
1 large chopped onion
4 chopped garlic cloves (mine came Wooleylot Farm right here in Potter County)
2 Tb. olive oil
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green or red peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 qt. jar home-canned tomatoes
1 Tb. maple syrup (could also use honey, brown sugar or molasses if you prefer)
1 Tb. Dijon mustard
4 cups cooked bird egg beans
Saute the onions, garlic, celery and peppers in the oil for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the seasonings and continue to cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, maple syrup, mustard and bring to a simmer. Add the beans and transfer to a baking dish. Bake at 300 degrees until some of the liquid has evaporated. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

12 comments:

  1. This recipe looks and sounds so good I am going to try it. Maybe for tonight it is snowing out. B

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  2. I've missed bird egg beans since I stopped growing them years ago. My mom used to can them and the would come from the jar cooked and ready to heat and eat. Sweetie Lumpkins used to freeze them until she went crazy and passed away.

    I buy dry horticultural beans at the grocery store but once dried and reconstituted, the flavor is very different.

    It appears in the picture that you mulch with a thick black material. It looks more like rubber than plastic. What is the material and where do you get it?

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  3. my family would like this.

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  4. What an interesting recipe--looks yummy.

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  5. Oh this post has me wanting to try this recipe! I love beans--period--never met a bean I didn’t love. I’ve never heard of these and the fact you got them from WV makes me want to try them even more. How cool that you’ve kept them going all these years. Wonderful!

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  6. They are a wonderful tasting bean with a really nice, meaty texture. Thank you for sharing a pot!

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  7. Good Morning from Texas. I was trying to visit some farms from the Verde Farm Tour...and I kept reading yours...lol

    This recipe and the history behind these beans is awesome.Please tell me you are keeping a journal!

    I would pay you for some seeds as we try to plant heirloom.I don't know how they would do in Texas..but would love to give them a try.Would you sale any? If not I understand.

    Thank you and I will now be reading you daily.
    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gignham

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  8. Hi I live in West Virginia and grow bird eggs every year they are my favorite you can purchase them from Boltz hardware store here and they may have a web site not sure but there are in Martinsburg WV.I love the recipe you posted it was delicious but wanted to say when I cook a pot of green beans with ham and potatoes I throw in a hand full of bird egg beans try it its so worth it. I do allow my bird egg beans to remain on the vine until the shell softens up the beans are still not dry but tend to be easier to shell and I think they hold their color better. Thanks

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    Replies
    1. THey also sell them at Hunter's Hardware in Berkeley SPrings, WV.

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    2. There are different varieties of "Bird Egg Beans". The best flavored to me are the ones that are white background with dark pink markings. Boltz can order them, but they currently only carry Dwarf Horticultural Beans, which are dark tan with maroon markings and are much smaller. The taste is not as good, in my opinion.

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  9. They sell them at Hardman's Hardware in Moorefield, WV too! Plant them every year and can them. Have even canned them with brown sugar, molasses, tomato sauce and some cinnamon as in baked beans. My husband loves them! And, they are great right out of the can, since they make their own 'gravy!' Just a little butter and pepper, and they are awesome!

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  10. WV girl too. I would love it if you would post your brown sugar, molasses, tomato sauce ect... recipe, it sounds so good.

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