The Marvelous, Magical Tepary Bean


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Now that we are going to make Arizona our new home, I have set about to learn everything I can about this desert climate and what plants thrive here. You can get only so much information from a book or online. Being in the field and seeing the actual plant is the best thing one can do. So, we decided to make a trip to the Sonora Desert Museum near Tucson and we were pleased to see they had many plants with clear identifying placards. Without actual plants to look at with identifying markers, I would be up the creek without a paddle because there are so many varieties of plants that have similar characteristics which makes it hard for an amateur botanist like me to figure out what’s what.

In addition to being able to identify non-edible plants I also want to know what edible foodstuffs grow well here. Luckily, there are many food plants that native peoples have developed over thousands of years and those plants are adapted to drought conditions and do very well.

One of the crops that the Tohono O’Odham people have developed is the Tepary bean (Tep-Pah-Ree). It’s a bean that is high in protein and fiber with many nutrients. A quarter cup dry has 410 calories, 1,910 mg of potassium, and 21 grams of protein among other things. Tepary beans come in white, red, brown and black. They are small and hold their shape in cooking like the Pinquito bean from the Santa Maria area of California.

The recipe I offer here is from Ramona Farms in Sacaton, Arizona, and is a traditional Tohono O’Odham meal. You can't buy the traditional beans, corn or wheat berries on Amazon or at your grocery store. One of the best places to buy them is straight from the grower:

Traditional Poshol

This dish is very, very easy to make and qualifies as a one-pot meal. It is hearty, satisfying and simply delicious!

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