Planting, Growing, Harvesting and Preparation – Pinto Beans

May 1, 2015 by Rosarie Salerno

Prior to 12,000 years ago hunter-gather-man picked and ate wild pinto beans along with other beans. About 11,000 years ago cultivation of the pinto bean became traditional with the Mexican Mesoamerican and Peru’s Andean farmers. Domesticated bean plants are more consistent and have larger seeds than their wild cousins. Pinto beans are a heliotropic plant; their leaves tilt, facing the sun throughout the day, and fold up into a “sleep” position when the sun goes down.
Pinto beans can be grown in your home garden; follow the planting directions on the package of organic non-GMO seeds. Pinto beans are draught and heat tolerant. The bean plant likes nitrogen. Before planting place 5-10-10 fertilizer, incorporating it into a depth of 6 inches of soil, at a proportion of 1/4 cup per 6 feet of row or preferably use a good organic compost. Remove weeds at the site of the garden and use mulch around the plants to inhibit the growth of competitive weeds. Before planting you may wish to soak the beans overnight to help their germination. Bush-beans grow faster than pole-beans. Plant the seed, with the eye of the bean facing down, in about 1 1/2 inches of soil having good drainage; also allow sufficient space for air circulation between the mature plants. Water well and then again in a few days. Thereafter, do not over water, wait until the soil is moist to dry, do not wet the leaves; the plant is susceptible to damage from moisture. Very important is not to grow beans in the same space; rotate crops every 3 years. Continue to use compost as a fertilizer around the plants. Keep an eye out for insects eating the plants such as aphids, leafhoppers and beetles. There are organic non-toxic-chemical insecticides available. Diatomaceous Earth “food grade”, for instance, is made of crushed fossilized algae. Diatomaceous Earth kills crawling insects by cutting their exoskeleton or by ingestion. Insects cannot build up a resistance to it. Make sure it is food grade. The method of companion planting will help deter insect infestations as well. Just as an example, Basil and Rosemary will deter bean beetles and Nasturtiums will help keep away aphids, besides, the leaves and flowers can be eaten and added to salads for a spicy flavor.
Pinto beans take from a minimum of 80 to over a 100 days to mature. They are ready to pick when the pods are brittle and the seeds have become completely dry on the vine. Hand pick the pods from the plants. To remove the beans from the pod, spread them out on a tarp and hit them with a wooden plank to split the pods open. Remove the beans. It is recommended to place them in an air tight container for up to one year of storage.
Pinto beans can be eaten raw, dry, sprouted, boiled or ground into flour. Before preparing home grown or packaged beans to eat they should be laid out and inspected for small stones, debris or damaged beans that should be removed before washing and preparing. Because of flatulence, many people refrain from eating pinto beans. However, pinto beans are highly nutritious. The reason for the gas is a raffinose-type of oligosaccharides, a sugar that mammals, including humans, can’t process due to a lack of the enzyme needed for digestion. There is a product that can be purchased named Beano or you can use a process of soaking and rinsing the beans to remove as much sugar as possible. To help reduce the sugar from beans it is suggested to cover the beans with water and bring to a boil for 2 to 5 minutes. Let the beans soak until cool, discard the water, rinse the beans and wash the pot. Do this 2 or 3 times. Using fresh water cook the beans until tender; when the bean smashes easily. Do not add salty or acidic ingredients until fully cooked as they will make the beans tough and increase the cooking time; you may add garlic or ginger during cooking.
You can get more information from Purdue University’s publications available at following link: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/ho-175.pdf.
Information and seeds are also available at: http://www. heirloom-organics.com/guide/va/1/guidetogrowingpinto.html.

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