Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans

The pole beans we grew this year are Cherokee Trail of Tears, an heirloom variety of black bean that were, according to oral history, carried from North Carolina to Oklahoma during the forced relocation of the Cherokee tribe. They got off to a slow start for us early in the summer, but throughout August and September they've been producing really well:

As they ripen, the bean pods turn from green to this gorgeous purple color. This makes them much easier to find among the vines than regular green beans!

When I first opened a pod, I was surprised to see that the beans are actually purple instead of black, like tiny eggplants:

As they dry, the color darkens up a bit. We spread the pods out on the porch counter to air dry, which makes them much easier to shell. Once you sit around and shell a bunch of them, they pretty much look like a bowl full of shiny black beans:

The beans above are not the whole harvest. There are still some drying, still plenty on the vines (until frost, anyway), and there were a bunch that went into a summer chili:

This was, for a chili, nice and light, because it was made with fresh tomatoes. We also used some bell peppers, hot peppers, and onion, along with the beans (and meat, but we didn't grow that). As they cooked, the beans lightened up into a purplish red color. They tasted great and had a really nice texture. These should last through the winter without too much trouble, and it's nice to have something easy to put up. It's not a lot of work to have them sit around and dry, and then get them into a mason jar, so it's a nice breather from all the freezing and canning we've been doing for the past couple months!


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