What comes to mind when you think about pinto beans? For me there are at least two memories that are pinto related.
First, there was our one-time pastor Van Banks who insisted that, the smell of pinto beans and cornbread cooking, was the smell of hope. Once you were eating them; that was no longer hope, that was achievement! Since that sermon I’ve never been able to cook a pot of pinto beans without thinking about hope.
Then, there was the year or so that we spent attending the local Mexican church. Don’t slam me for being stereotypical with that one. The fact is that we ate pinto beans several times per week during that time. Those beans were a beloved staple and our friends cooked them so well.
Before this year I never put much thought though into how pinto beans grow. Did you? Pintos are a bush bean rather than a pole bean so they stay short, although from what we saw this summer they wouldn't mind having a little bit of a fence to climb. They also have a quite shot growing season. We've been trying to decide whether or not to immediately plant a second crop. With around two months left in the growing season, beans planted today just might mature. And finally, unlike your typical garden green beans, they mature more or less at the same time. That means that by the end of this week we'll be done harvesting them.
It could be that this week marks another major pinto bean memory, in the making. This spring we planted what we considered to be a crop of pinto beans. I’m not talking about a row or two of beans; we tried to plant enough that we will be able to eat all of the homegrown pinto that we want through this year and still have enough seed to plant next years crop. We planted a half pound of seed, and have already harvested 6 quarts of dry beans (read six large pots of cooked beans). From what the boys saw in the patch today that is something like a third of the total take from the patch.
We all had a hand in this harvest. We all turned the land with digging forks and shovels. We all put seed in the ground and covered it. Dominic spent hours cultivating the rows to keep the weeds down while the plants were young. The boys picked this first load, and we all shelled the beans this evening.
This is one of the things that I love about growing food. It is such a community effort!
So what do you think about the lowly pinto bean now? Maybe you'll stop by this winter for a good meal of pinto beans and cornbread. Then you too will know what hope smells like!