As a matter of custom and tradition, heirlooms are objects of value passed down through families to friends and are gifts for future generations. Their value could lie within the object itself- made from precious metals and gemstones, or more subjectively in the value found in a favorite quilt, piece of furniture or treasured seeds. These are a living gift to plant and enjoy as they grow, then use in recipes handed down from one generation to the next.
Dry beans were first cultivated in Mexico more than 10,000 years ago, domesticated from wild plants, then cultivated and shared with peoples that spread both north and south to form some of the great empires of the Americas. Today, we find these beans in a multitude of shapes and colors throughout the world. It is these dry bean seeds that are the heartbeat of Rio del Rey.
I remember the first time I tasted some heirloom beans. They were the purple, black striped and shiny Rio Zapes I brought back from Tucson. I purchased a package labeled. Purple Hopi Beans from Native Seeds/Search
That’s their other name. After preparing them simply with garlic, onions and some salt, I took my first taste. Wow! These were not my Mother’s Limas. They were meaty, full flavored, and oh so creamy. They were so unlike the canned pintos, black and kidney beans that I had come to think of as my culinary bean palette. They sung with flavor and richness. I had to have more. And I needed to do my homework on beans.