Friday, 12 October 2012
Anellino Yellow Beans & Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans
The yellow ones on the left are the Anellino Yellow (Anellino Giallo; Shrimp Bean); the green ones on the right are the Cherokee Trail of Tears. These were both new beans for us in the garden this year. Both of them have pretty pink flowers and are lovely plants.
The Anellino Yellow are somewhat unusual and hard to find. The phrase that comes to mind for them is "high maintenance". They were, as advertised, quite late to start producing, at least three weeks later than our earliest bean, which should put them around the 80 days to maturity mark. When they started though, they came in large quantities. They are a long, rangy pole bean that needs good support, but for a pole bean they seemed almost determinate. They produced heavily for about a month, and then seemed to really slow down a lot. Or maybe all the beans are coiled up on the top of the trellis, sunning themselves like little lizards, and not hanging down where I can find them. It amounts to the same thing either way though - no more beans, or few, anyway.
The flavour of these was excellent, sweet and delicious. Like a lot of yellow beans, I think them best with just a blush of green left in them. Although as they got bigger and the seeds swelled a bit, the flavour became really sweet and rich from the developing seeds. There is an Anellino Green, and I noticed on a couple of my plants that the beans stayed green and never turned yellow at any size. Flavour was similar if not identical. I'm told these are traditionally used in cold (cooked) bean salads, and that would certainly be a good use for them.
I didn't think to take a picture until after the main flush was finished, and the ones I could find for it seemed less typical of the curled shape that gives them their name (little ring, in Italian). The one on top is typical of what they should look like. The shape is distinctive and interesting, but it also makes them kind of a pain in the arse. They are harder to pick, and harder to pack and store, and harder to trim. If you like them enough, they may still be worth the effort, but I'm not sure I like them that much. On the other hand, you are not likely to see them for sale, for the reasons I just enumerated, so if you want to try them you will probably have to grow them yourself.
I have to say, I found a couple of missed pods this week that had matured and dried down, and the shelled beans are so fabulously beautiful, that I'm almost tempted to grow them again just to see the dry seed again. They are neat little oval beans in a rich shade of plum purple speckled with streaks of slightly greenish beige.I may relent and stick in just a handful of these for next year - they really were quite delicious.
These are an Italian heirloom bean, more than which I cannot say. I suspect they came to North America via Franchi (Seeds from Italy) and a few seed sellers have picked them up from there.There do seem to be a couple of strains out there; the other one apparently has black seeds.
The Cherokee Trail of Tears are quite a different bean. The flavour is hard to distinguish from Blue Lake - which is not an insult by any means, since Blue Lake are in my opinion the bean to which all other green beans are compared. It remains to be seen if they freeze as well as Blue Lake. We have put away a few packs to test them.
They are a less uniform bean than the Blue Lake, at least in the strain we have. The beans are generally shorter (but variable) and flatter (usually). Some of them quickly develop a slight purple flush, and some of them don't. In any case, they are produced prolifically on very robust vines. They went in late, and have proven to be very shade tolerant. They are much quicker to produce than the Anellino Yellow, at about 65 to 70 days to fresh maturity, although unlike the Anellino Yellow they will continue to produce new beans until nearly frost. (Allow at least 100 days if you want them dried.) In spite of their antiquity, they were tender and string-free, although I've seen some people complain that some were stringy. (In which case, the strings should be pulled out as you top and tail them.)
Apparently they can also be used dried - in fact are usually used dried - but I doubt we will get to try them thusly as we did put them in so very late, after we had already grown a crop of early peas in the same bed. The dry beans are a slender, glossy black, and should cook to a rich dark red.
Their history, unlike that of the Anellino Yellow, is well recorded and widely available. They were contributed to Seed Savers Exchange in 1977, by Dr. John Wyche of Oklahoma. According to Dr. Wyche, his Cherokee ancestors had carried them on the Trail of Tears in 1838, and grown them ever since. Dr. Wyche was a notable gardener, who contributed a number of very interesting tomatoes to the SSE as well.
As I researched these beans, I noted that a number of gardeners felt their beans had been crossed, as they had beans which did not fully meet the description of the proper Cherokee Trail of Tears bean. So that may be something to watch for. I've certainly noticed that some varieties cross more easily than others.