Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

late-breaking news on my favorite legume

Just when you thought (ok, I thought) it couldn't get any better... Apios americana makes me love it even more. "How is that possible?" you ask. One word: beans.

I was startled yesterday, pleasantly of course, to find a handful of beans on the hopniss vine at a client's terrace. It looks like each flower cluster produces only one bean. Is that a pollination issue or a question of how much fruit the vine can support? I've had the plant there for three years and harvested tubers on several occasions, but this is the first year I've found beans. The vine doesn't usually produce beans this far north, although friends in NC report large annual harvests.

What to do? What to do?

The first time I taste a new wild edible, I like to prepare it in a relatively plain way, no sauces, minimal seasoning. Since I didn't have enough for a meal, I decided to make an amuse bouche, sauteing the beans in olive oil with just a little (really, only a little) garlic, and some S&P. Ok, and a little summer savory.

The taste was delicious but the texture left a little something to be desired. The two smallest beans were tender, but the outer shells of the larger beans were too fibrous to be pleasantly chewable. Still, the taste was so good that I'll go back and look for more. Maybe a preliminary blanching would soften up the outer bean. Suggestions, anyone?


Urban Gardens said...

The top photo against the purple is gorgeous! Maybe post the prep question on a food blog? ps. Loved seeing you both a GWA Dallas.

Ellen Zachos said...

Thanks Robin, I posted to my wild foods web board, but the beans are rare enough that no one had prep suggestions. I'm definitely going to consider my research.

Frank said...

MAybe just eating the beans inside, toss the shell?

Ellen Zachos said...

I thought of that, Frank, but my harvest was so small I couldn't bear to make it even smaller. That's what happens when you're greedy, like me!

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