Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Winter Shell Bean Favorites of 2013

Last winter I received these wonderful beans in a trade.
Mahalo Jana for the seeds!
Petaluma Gold Rush
Petaluma Gold Rush is a cranberry bean. They originated in Peru and look similar to one of my favorite Italian cranberry beans - Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco. The plants were prolific and more heat tolerant than Borlatto Lingua. They were ready to begin harvesting as shell beans in 75 days.

Petaluma Gold Rush seeds are available from
 Natural Gardening Company.

True Red Cranberry

True Red Cranberry is not a cranberry bean like Petaluma Gold Rush - they just look like a cranberry. They were ready to harvest as shell beans in 75 days. The origin of True Red is the Abenaki tribe of Maine and they have a colorful history.

True Red Cranberry is available from
Seed Savers Exchange.
Gigante Lima
Gigante Lima was the largest bean I've grown. They flowered in 45 days and I was harvesting shell beans around 100 days. The pods were huge - the vines were huge and they needed a lot of space. Gigante was a prolific producer of big beautiful flat white beans.
Gigante are also called Gigandes - they're popular in Greek cuisine and native to Central America. Seeds are available from
When searching the web, I found sites noting Gigantes as limas and others noting them as runner beans. When I read the detailed post about growing Gigantes on From Seed To Table I realized there really are two types and both produce huge plants with huge white beans. The limas have small pale lavender flowers and the runners have large white flowers. Lima cotyledons germinate above the soil and runners remain in the soil eventually forming a tuberous root.

Fresh shell beans don't take long to cook and they're so delicious.
They can also be blanched and frozen.