WHAT IS A BLACK TURTLE BEAN?
These oblong pulses are tiny in size (around a half-inch / 13 mm) and midnight black in appearance. The presence of the water soluble pigment anthocynin is responsible for its’ coloring. And much like an oreo, they have a white center. This member of the kidney bean family is among the more flavorful pulses. The Phaseolus vulgaris bean originated in Central and South America over 7,000 years ago. To put this in context, this is around the same time humans first learned to domesticate horses and chickens!
WHY ARE BLACK TURTLE BEANS GOOD FOR YOU?
Like all pulses, black turtle beans have health benefits not possible with other legumes. They are low in fat while being high in protein and fiber. When compared to other beans, one metric of health is the blacker the bean, the better it is for you. Black Turtle beans are slightly higher in fiber and magnesium versus other pulses. Whether it’s heart disease, high cholesterol or blood pressure (stroke), black beans are shown to offer significant health benefits when included in your diet.
WHEN ARE BLACK TURTLE BEANS IN SEASON?
Beans in general don’t transplant well, and need to be planted after the last frost of the season. They also tend to rot easily if their is too much moisture in the soil. And lastly, like with onions Turtle beans have a relatively long maturation period (3 months). It takes a lot of love to be a bean farmer!
WHAT KINDS OF RECIPES USE BLACK TURTLE BEANS?
Popular in Spanish and Cajun cuisine, these frijoles negros can be found in many a burrito or soup. Like with most beans, soak them the night before (12 hours) for the best results (4 to 1 ratio of water to beans). However don’t throw this water away! It’s now a vegetable stock filled with nutrients and minerals, great as a soup base. Or add this bean water to your rice cooker to give your rice some flavor. To thicken up this liquid, puree a few beans into the mix. Be careful though, many recipes just state “black beans” which can cover other bean types as well. Black Turtle beans have more flavor then most, which makes them great for spicy dishes with a lot of flavor. Check out this Black Turtle Bean stew from Kind Earth. Or go in a different direction and use them to make brownies for dessert!
WHY ARE BLACK TURTLE BEANS NAMED AFTER TURTLES?
Much like a turtle, these beans are hidden within a dark, hard shell and have a meaty texture inside. This delicacy has led to their Spanish nickname of “white caviar.”