Jacob’s Cattle Bean

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Jacob’s Cattle bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) is also known as the trout bean or Appaloosa bean. It is a white and reddish-brown speckled, plump kidney bean. Beans can be harvested young, when the pods are still green and the markings on the beans are only pale pink in color. As the beans mature and dry out, the markings darken to their maroon color. The markings are said to resemble those of a ‘spotted Hereford cattle’ thus how the bean got it’s name. Beans must be removed from their pods to be eaten. The flavor of Jacob’s cattle bean is described as fruity, rich, and nutty in flavor, and dense and meaty in texture. They hold their shape well under long cooking times and maintain their flavor even with heavy seasoning. The bean is usually used in soups and stews. Jacob’s cattle bean is originates from the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada. The Passamaquoddy people of Maine were said to have given some as a gift to Joseph Clark, the first Caucasian child born in Lubec, Maine in the 1600s. Even through the late 1900s, this bean had a very local distribution limited to the northeastern United States, and particularly Maine, and Prince Edward Island, Canada. Today, these beans can be found directly from small producers, or purchased from rare or heirloom seed supply companies for home cultivation. Unusual or heirloom bean varieties like Jacob’s Cattle are as not well known by most American consumers. A lack of emphasis on the different tastes and qualities between dry bean varieties, along with the fact that they are not available in large quantities from supermarkets means, few consumers seek out these beans. Instead, canned versions of a few commercial types beans, that do not require long soaking or cooking times, are quite common in North America.

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