Bawĭ – tepary beans – have sustained the Tohono O’odham for countless generations. They are one of the most heat and drought tolerant crops in the world. In Tohono O’odham legends, the Milky Way is made of tepary beans scattered across the sky.
Grown during the blistering hot summer of the Sonoran Desert, tepary beans are one of the most heat and drought resistant crops in the world. The same adaptations that allow them to thrive in harsh desert conditions make them incredibly healthy. They are extremely high in protein and very low on the glycemic index (29). As a result, they help regulate blood sugar levels and are particularly good for diabetics and others concerned about he impacts of simple carbohydrates on their health.
Cooking with Tepary Beans
Basic Cooking Instructions
Two main varieties of tepary beans are grown by the Tohono O’odham: the brown tepary bean has a rich, earthy flavor, while then white beans have a slightly sweet flavor. Tepary beans can be used in bean salad, pureed for dips, used in cassoulets or stews or in place of any other dry bean.
To cook, rinse beans with water, pick out an discard any stones or broken pieces, place beans in a large pot and cover with water (8 cups of water of one cup of beans) and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Partially cover and cook until tender, about two to four hours. Once cooked, they will double in volume. The cooked beans can be frozen and store well in the refrigerator for up to one week (leave them in the cooking liquid). Delicious in bean salads, chili and dips.
Canyon Ranch Brown Tepary Bean Dip
Courtesy of Canyon Ranch
4 cups dried brown tepary beans
3 quarts water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 fresh lime, juiced
In a stockpot cook beans with 3 quarts of water and 1 teaspoon of salt for 2-3 hours until tender. Preheat oven to 400oF. Roast black peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds on a small baking sheet for 5 minutes. Grind toasted seeds in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Drain beans and reserve cooking water. Combine cooked beans, 2 cups of reserved water, olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt and fresh lime juice. Puree until smooth. Makes 10 cups.
White Tepary Bean Stew
Courtesy of Frances Manuel, San Pedro Village
This rich, filling stew is ideal for slow cooking in a crock pot.
1 cup of dried white tepary beans, rinsed and picked through
10 cups of water
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound oxtails, beef shortribs, deer, or rabbit
Place beans, water and 1 teaspoon of salt in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for one hour and a half. Add meat to the bean mixture, cover and cook for one more hour, or until beans are tender and meat is falling off the bone. If using a crockpot, place all ingredients in the pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours, or until beans are soft and meat is falling off the bone.