Last Summer, I bought 2 bushels of pinto beans in the shell from my local farmers market. Knowing full well that my family loves pinto beans and we eat them often, I couldn't go wrong buying them in bulk. Also, pinto beans have a short harvest time, I have to stock up on them when they are available.
After getting my large purchase home, I realized it was going to take me awhile to shell all those beans, even with my family's help. As timing would have it, I had a Italian dinner planned with 6 adults and their kids coming over that night. As my friends arrived, they all took notice of the large bag of beans. Every one had a fond childhood memory of shelling beans or peas that came rushing forward and happily shared it as they starred into the bag. Right away, I knew how I was going to get those beans shelled.
Later on, after the dessert dishes had been put away, along with a few bottles of wine, I dug out all the large bowls I could find and made a few make-shift trash cans. I hauled that large bag of beans right into the middle of the living room and dispensed with the shelling bowls and trash cans. Everyone laughed at the thought of me putting them to work for their supper. But you know, not one person hesitated to grab up a bowl and went to shelling straight away. It took us maybe 25 minutes to shell those two bushels of beans. We were all amazed at our speed and at the same time, sad that the fun was over so quickly.
The whole experience was one to be remembered and repeated. I can't wait for next season's harvest to be here. I'll know just what to do AND who to call over for dinner.
HERE'S ALL IT TAKES TO COOK FRESH PINTO BEANS
- 3 cups fresh shelled pinto beans
- 4 to 6 whole garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings or cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- enough water to cover the beans with 2-inches of water
In a large dutch oven or cooking pot, add all the ingredients and bring water to boil. REDUCE heat to a simmer, cover with a lid. Simmer, stirring occasionally and checking water level, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the water becomes level with the top of the beans, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups more water; continue cooking until beans are tender to the bite.
Keeping the pinto beans mildly seasoned makes them versatile for other dishes. If you know that you'll want them for Tex-Mex meals, than add 2 teaspoons chili powder and 1 teaspoon cumin with the other ingredients before cooking.
If you're wondering what I did with all those extra shelled pinto beans, I bagged them- 3 cups per freezer bags and stored them in the freezer. I can't tell you how nice it is to go to the freezer and pull out a bag of Summer goodness in the middle of Winter.