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ludja

Procuring Fresh Shell Beans in CA

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I've been reading a bunch of my Southern cookbooks and am developing a hankering for all sort of fresh shell beans/peas. Any recommendations for which farmer's markets have them and which varieties are on offer?

Typically I've seen fresh fava and cranberry beans but am wondering it there are any purveyors or sources for things like green crowder peas, butter (lima) beans, pink-eyed peas, lady peas, etc. Maybe there are also other fresh beans from Italy or other places.

I'll personally appreciate any information on Bay Area Farmer's Markets or vendors but thought it would be great to open this up to the whole state to get a sense for what is on offer within California.

Please share if you're growing these in your garden as well!


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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ludja,

We get quite a variety of shell beans and peas among the various (and seemingly sadly waning) vendors at the Alemany farmers' market here in SF.

Favas are still around, but, declining in quality.

Plenty of peas, if you get there early enough.

Frequently a couple of the Asian vendors will have packets of shelled fresh Lima Beans, blackeyed peas, or other beans. I got some beautiful maroon and cream speckled Limas a couple weeks ago and made a nice Batali inspired pasta, just to prove to myself that they weren't the horrible things I remembered from my youth.

I don't remember seeing fresh cranberry beans, yet; but, they tend to disappear quickly, and we've gotten there kind of late the last couple weekends.

There are often other beans still in the shell that various ethnicities go gaga over that I don't necessarily recognize.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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it's my recollection that shelly beans really come on strongest toward the end of the season. we'll get limas earlier, and fresh garbanzos, too. but cranberries, etc., usually come out in early to mid-august. though with the planting delays this year, it could be even later.

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Thanks eje and russ!

I will definately check out the Alemany Market in the next few weeks. I've never been and have always wanted to check it out. I want to try fresh lima beans!

The only fresh beans I saw this weekend were fava beans at the Mountain View market.

I *did* consult the Chez Panisse Vegetable book after posting and read that the season for many of them is mid-late summer which does correspond with my memory of at least cranberry bean timing. (Excellent for a late summer soupe au pistou or summer minetrone.) Thanks also for the tip that the season may start a little later this year.

Some other fresh beans mentioned in the CP book are: Italian Borlotto, an American heirloom, "Low's Champions", Dragon Tongue's (a yellow bean), green flageolet's, fresh black-eyed peas, cannellini's. She mentions one particularly good lima bean variant--"Christmas Limas".


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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[...]

I will definately check out the Alemany Market in the next few weeks.  I've never been and have always wanted to check it out.  I want to try fresh lima beans!

[...]

Don't get your hopes up too much about Alemany. We've seen a pretty steady decline in sellers since the Ferry Plaza market opened. I think this year's gas prices have really taken their toll on the number of farmers willing to truck their goods in. It seems like every passing week sees one less booth filled.

Do try to get there between 9-10. By 11 or noon, most are out of the good stuff or cleaning up and getting ready to go.

On the other hand, around noon, you can get some very good deals on items that the farmers' don't want to pack up and truck back home.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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[...]

I will definately check out the Alemany Market in the next few weeks.  I've never been and have always wanted to check it out.  I want to try fresh lima beans!

[...]

Don't get your hopes up too much about Alemany. We've seen a pretty steady decline in sellers since the Ferry Plaza market opened. I think this year's gas prices have really taken their toll on the number of farmers willing to truck their goods in. It seems like every passing week sees one less booth filled.

Do try to get there between 9-10. By 11 or noon, most are out of the good stuff or cleaning up and getting ready to go.

On the other hand, around noon, you can get some very good deals on items that the farmers' don't want to pack up and truck back home.

Thanks for the additional info; I'll probably try to get there early to check out the maximal amount of offerings. I'm sorry that they have been having hard times. It seems like there should be enough customers to support both markets.


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I don't want to sound like a record, maybe one called Sour Grapes, but if you're seeing fresh cranberry beans, they're not local. The prices may be good and they can even be of top quality, but they won't be local. I haven't been to Alemany in years so I'll assume they're all growers, but the as for the Civic Center market, you might as well go to Safeway.

There are many cranberry beans, all dense and velevety. Borlotti are one, Tounges of Fire is another. There's one called October. I sell Borlotti (Borlotto would be the singular!), October (French Horticulture), Wrens Egg and Vermont Cranberry. I also sell Christmas Lima, but of course all mine are dried.

Keep in mind I only sell dry beans, but I don't think the fresh ones have such a developed flavor. They are nice and all have a generic bean taste but it's when they're dried that they become really interesting. Of course, they take longer to cook but they don't have to be consumed within a very short season. I know what you're thinking, Of course that's what he'd say!, but i think it's true!

Luckily, there's room for everyone at the table.


Visit beautiful Rancho Gordo!

Twitter @RanchoGordo

"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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