“You’ve got to see these beans in the bulk bin!”
It’s not often that I’m quickly darting off to find David in the grocery store only so that I can drag him to the bulk bins. However, when I saw these Calypso beans, I did. I’m one of those people who experiences new grocery stores as if they were a treasure hunt. From the produce area on one side of the store to the olive bar on the other, at every point along the way there’s a chance for discovery. Even if I have no intention of picking anything up from the bulk bins that day, I want to see what they’re selling, and if there’s anything unique. Heirloom black calypso beans definitely brought that.
With black and white variations reminiscent of the yin yang sign or orcas, they were beans unlike any I’d ever seen before. (Apparently my summation of the beans was not unusual. They are also called yin yang, orca, or Dalmatian beans.) I poured a few scoops of them into a bag and was eager to try them for myself.
I prepared the beans the same way that I would any other dried bean. I rinsed the beans, checked for any debris, and soaked them overnight in enough water to cover them by at least three inches. Then the next day I drained and rinsed them, put them in a large pot covered in water so that there was at least an inch of water over the top of them, and brought the pot to a boil. Once boiling, I turned the heat to low, covered the pot, and let them cook. I started checking on them at 40 minutes and kept checking until they were soft to the tooth, while still holding their form. They took less than an hour to cook. (Depending on the freshness of beans, they can take more or less time.)
I was delighted to see that while the beans didn’t have the exact same bright, crisp contrast after cooking, they still retained most of their coloring. I froze some of the beans for later and then kept a couple of cups to use right away. (To see pictures of how I cook beans from scratch and freeze them for later, check out this post.)
Although I’m still planning on making something with them that shows them off without hiding them underneath anything else, I went with the simplest bean choice imaginable first – tacos. I used my standard spicy taco recipe, swapping out black beans for Calypso beans and adding in some orange bell pepper as well for color.
Some say that Calypso beans have a potato-y flavor. I found them to be more of a mix between black-eyed peas and cannellini beans. They have some of that earthiness that you get with black-eyed peas, but only slightly. They are still mild like cannellini beans. That said, David has a strong aversion to pinto beans, and he didn’t enjoy the Calypso beans at all. He thought the interior texture was mushy like pinto beans with a similar “muddy” flavor. That wasn’t my experience of them, but hey, pinto beans are one of my favorite beans so obviously I don’t mind that so-called “muddy” taste. Anyway, it’s something to keep in mind if you are also in the anti-pinto camp.
Do you have any ideas for how you would prepare these beans to highlight their eye-catching appearance? (Vegan recipe ideas only, please!)