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Scarlet Runner Beans

Debra Redalia


Scarlet runner beans.

I’m going to be writing a lot about beans on this blog because it turns out beans are pretty wonderful and not at all like the beans in the industrial food world. Organic heirloom beans are completely different from canned beans or cheap beans in plastic bags from the supermarket or even the bulk bin at a natural food store. Dried beans can be up to ten years old!

A bean is not a bean is not a bean. I’ve tested more than two dozen types of beans and each has it’s own character and flavor.

Scarlet runner bean plant in bloom

I want to start by introducing you to one of my favorites—scarlet runner beans. They are so-called because their edible flowers are bright scarlet, but the beans themselves are big purple beans with markings. The beans are very meaty and starchy, hold their shape, and retain their color and markings even after they are cooked. Since purple is my favorite color, I love eating these purple beans!

I buy my scarlet runner beans from a wonderful grower called Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans . They are “the original U.S. company to offer authentic heirloom beans and unusual legumes worldwide. The ultimate eco-friendly food, Zürsun heirloom beans are grown on small-scale farms in the Snake River Canyon region of south central Idaho known as the Magic Valley Growing Area. The area’s arid climate, rich, well-drained loamy soil, moderate temperatures and stable moisture level—internationally recognized as having ideal environmental conditions for bean growing—produce pure, distinctly flavorful beans, superior to common store-bought beans.” They don’t sell online, but I can buy them at my local gourmet market. Click here for markets and online sources.

This is a bean that needs to be soaked overnight in pure water and then cooked in the morning. Or you can put them in a bowl to soak in the morning, go off for the day, and come home to cook them in the evening.

Cook them in the heaviest pot you have, over low heat on your stovetop or baked in the oven at about 300 degrees F.

Taste for doneness. They should be soft but not falling apart.

As soon as the beans are done, remove them from the cooking water and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet, so they cool quickly and don’t continue cooking.

When cool, put them in the refrigerator until you are ready to make something with them.