Colorado Beans and Grains

As noted in my last post, Husband and I are on an extended vacation in Durango, Colorado. We are staying in our 27′ travel trailer in the beautiful Haviland Lake National Forest Campground.

One thing that I have recently learned is that we are in close proximity to the “Pinto Bean Capital of the World”. Yup, Dove Creek, Colorado, a mere 80 miles from where we are staying is the self-proclaimed Pinto Bean Capital of the World. In addition to pinto beans, we have found a wide variety of unusual and interesting beans grown in these environs.

Last week we made a quick stop at the Durango natural food store, Nature’s Oasis. They had in stock three very interesting beans varieties grown on local farm, La Paloma Dove Creek Bean Company LLC.

We found a bag of Cranberry Beans.

Cranberry Beans

A bag of Zuni Gold, a variety I have not heard of.

Zuni Gold

Last, but certainly not least, a bag of Mortgage Lifter beans.

Mortgage Lifter Beans

These beans were well priced at $1.95 a pound. La Paloma does not have a website. You can order directly from the owner, Mike Coffey, 970-677-2445, PO Box 552, Dove Creek CO, 81324. They grow 10 different varieties of heirloom and antique beans.

A few words about the beans I purchased: Zuni Gold beans are originally from Mexico and are now uniquely grown in the Four Corners region. Apparently they are somewhat rare and hard to find. Lucky me! The cranberry beans are originally from Columbia. They get their name from the cranberry colored markings on the skin. They look a lot like a pinto bean. And now the Mortgage Lifter, you just have to love that name! This is a gigantic white bean. Supposedly it has a very meaty taste and is good in soups and stews. It is said that the name comes from a farmer who was about to lose his land, but an unusually good crop of this bean saved him and thus lifted the mortgage.

Adobe Milling is a large producer of beans and other Southwest goodies. They are also located in Dove Creek CO.  In the local Durango grocery store I found several beans produced and packaged by Adobe Milling.

Adobe Milling Beans

I bought a bag of Pinto Beans. As this is the Pinto Bean Capital I felt that I certainly must sample some! According to the bag, Anasazi beans were one of the few crops cultivated by the Anasazi Indians. The Anasazi Indians are known for their cliff dwellings which they inhabited as early as 130 A.D. Wow! The Anasazi bean has a slightly sweet flavor and is good with all kinds of Mexican food. And finally, the Bolita bean is originally from Mexico from New Mexico, brought there by the Spanish. They are a little sweeter than a pinto bean and have a quicker cooking time. Again, I learned this from the Adobe Milling package. Can’t wait to try them for myself.

I now have eight pounds of beans to haul back to Texas. That’s OK. I can never get enough beans!  Husband is very patient with my extensive bean shopping.

What about the grains? I did find some locally milled flours. But my big grain find was a bag of dried posole, packaged by the Fernandez Chile Company of Alamosa. CO.

Fernandez Posole

Posole is a very large white kernel-ed corn that has been soaked in a lime solution and then dried. Posole has a long history in Mexico. I am familiar with it from the fantastic restaurants in Santa Fe NM that serve it as a side dish cooked with lots of red chili. Posole is like hominy but it is generally purchased dried or frozen.

I am planning to cook this posole while we are on vacation. I have read that I should soak it over night. Then I will put it in my little slow cooker with a ton of New Mexico red chili. That should make a gorgeous soupy dish that I will serve with grated cheese, sliced radishes and finely chopped ice berg lettuce. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Of course, we have been eating lots of beans and grains. Yesterday we stopped and got burritos at Zia Taqueria here in Durango. I love this place. They actually have three types of beans you can get on tacos or burritos; pinto beans, black beans and refried pinto beans. All three are vegetarian and all are locally grown.

Last night I made a farro salad for dinner. I had quick cooking farro. It only took 10 minutes to prepare. To the cooked farro I added chopped red bell pepper’ green onions, celery, carrots, some lightly steamed broccoli, olive oil and vinegar. At the end I decided to throw in some canned, drained chickpeas. This made a great light supper. And I have left overs to eat as a side dish. Very good!

Farro Salad



19 thoughts on “Colorado Beans and Grains

  1. thanks for the information. i have been looking for the mortgage lifter beans and will call Mike to see if i can get them from him.

  2. Thanks for the information on where to buy Mortgage Lifter beans. They’re one of my favorites. About the Poole: I think it is easier to start with the frozen rather than the dry. I get them at City Market in Durango. I use a recipe from the Internet, touted as a remedy for hangovers! Don’t know about that, but it is certainly good. I use pork stew meat and Bueno brand frozen green chiles. Also, I use a pressure cooker, using the times for beef stew.

  3. I have been eating anasazi beans for years. Best beans for years. I buy it by the 50 lbs. bag. One way to cook them is: rinse, boil hard for 45 min. go to simmer add 1TBSN. minced garlic, about 1/3 to 1/2 cup honey and 3/4 cup cubed ham or (1) one smoked ham shank. Simmer 45 to 60 min. Keep an eye on the liquid level. When done you should have a creamy red sauce and a soft to firm meaty bean. OH this is for about (1) cup of dry beans. ENJOY Russ

  4. Mortgage lifter beans are my favorite bean. I’ve previously purchased them at the Red Mesa mercantile 25 minutes outside of Durango. But now Ill but them from Mike Coffey himself if I can. They really are so meaty and delicious, and not as starchy as some other beans. Thank you for the info. Haha, I was thinking that they might lift someone’s mortgage by way of making the grocery bill cheaper, being as they’re so meaty.

    • Mel, We think you are right. Mortgage Lifters is a depression era term for these beans – because they do make the grocery bill smaller.
      We made some just this past Saturday night and I have to say they are one of our favs.
      We’re really getting into the one pot of beans for the whole week routine this summer. And a May/June trip to Durango made it possible for us to stock up.

      We even found bags of Mortgage Lifters at the Nature’s Oasis grocery store in Durango this trip.

  5. Yes, I need some help. My boyfriend once went out to Colorado and discovered some (in his words: “Colorado pinto beans”). He bought them at an elevator on the side of the highway, between Goodland, Kansas and Burlington Co. He said they were real light in color and cooked very quickly. Well, fifteen years (or better now), later, I’m trying to find him some more. Do you have any idea where/if I can find these perhaps? I recently went to Colorado and found some of the elevators. It was on a Saturday when I went thru there and returned home, and they weren’t open. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • “Colorado Pintos” are very common description in the state, but obviously there’s no way to know what beans your boyfriend happened into that day. You can find “light color pintos” in lots of locales in the State. Check with the Dove Creek growers and sellers in this article. On your next trip head to Southwest Colorado, West of Durango toward Cortez and you’ll find Dove Creek “self-proclaimed Pinto Bean Capital of the World” and you’ll find all manner of pinto choices. We were in Tuscon recently, and found a bag of Pintos in a Safeway that was really light in color – they were delicious and cooked up light brown. But we didn’t make a note of the brand. It was one we were not familiar with. As you might imagine, when shopping in a new area we head for the bean section and pickup any that look different or interesting.
      Sorry that we couldn’t be more helpful – but keep hunting!

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