Seemingly endless loops of snowy commutes, bitter cold temperatures, and all around winter blahs call for real comfort food.  And I’m not talking about the quick and easy kind; I’m talking about the homegrown, slow-cooked, hearty goodness that is cooking up a pot of dried beans and transforming them into an amazing soup or a spicy Mexican dinner.  Bam. Snowy commute: forgotten.

 Yes, it’s times like these that make me incredibly happy that I planted Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans last summer.

These beans could not have been easier to grow: I popped them into the ground as a part of my Three Sisters Planting and let them grow and do their thing all season long without any fuss.  Along the way, I enjoyed lovely lavender blossoms, cute little green beans that plumped up and then turned pinkish purple as they ripened, and when the bean pods had turned dark purple and brittle, I was left with a couple pints of smooth and shiny black beans (not quite enough beans for as many winter meals as I had hoped for, but I did get enough to ration out a good number of recipes).

It was a no-brainer to set aside enough beans to double the planting for this year’s repeat appearance (and that was before I had even started cooking with them!).

So let’s get to it and talk cooking with Cherokee Trail of Tears beans.

These are beans that need a good soaking (I should have guessed it, based on the recommendation to soak the beans before planting) and a lot of cooking time.  Give them 10 or 12 hours to soak, and then make sure there is a good three inches of water covering the beans when you start to cook them.  I find that it takes about 2 hours of simmering to get beautiful, soft and tender black beans, but trust me: it is sooo worth the wait!

The beans plump up quite nicely when cooked and have a great texture.  They taste way better than any canned or commercial dried beans I’ve ever cooked with, and Cherokee Trail of Tears beans have substituted perfectly for a number of my favorite black bean recipes: black bean quesadillas, spicy black bean burgers, and a mini batch of Cuban black bean soup.  But by far, my favorite way of using these beans has been to pop them into the food processor with a little bit of the cooking liquid before adding them to a hot pan of super finely minced onion, garlic, jalapeno, ground cumin, ground cayenne pepper, and chili powder for some killer refried beans.  Bam.  Comfort food at its best: homegrown, slow-cooked, hearty, and most importantly, delicious.

Cooking with Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans
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4 thoughts on “Cooking with Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans

  • July 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

    I am growing these for the first time. Did you allow them to fully dry on the vine? Or a different method? Also did you ever pick and fresh cook them young? If so, how did this compare in taste?

    Thanks so much


    • July 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm

      Hi C! Yes, I let the beans dry fully on the bean stalks (see this post from last fall, for more on harvesting dry beans: I only picked one of these beans to try fresh (just tasted it raw, not cooked) and it was good! The only reason I didn’t pick more is that I had other varieties growing for fresh eating and wanted as many of these as possible for dry beans. Thanks for commenting and good luck with your beans!

    • August 31, 2013 at 7:46 am

      These are my most favorite beans I have ever grown. I have used them in all stages. Pick young for a tender green bean, a little later for a shelly bean (which requires longer cooking), and dried. Thank you for you recipe. I am looking forward to using it this winter. A most prolific bean, I had them on a 7-foot trellis, and they would have kept gone higher if allowed to. Beautiful colors hanging on the vines. I planted two 5-foot rows, and have about 2 quarts of dried beans stored with more to come, and have had fresh pole beans from them at least twice a week since the fist of July.

    • September 4, 2013 at 11:53 am

      They really are prolific and beautiful! This one has a permanent location in my garden!


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