You may have seen piles of colorful beans at your local farmers’ market. Or perhaps you’ve stopped to gawk at the natural-foods store’s rows of bulk bins filled with a mind—boggling array of beans. Go ahead and give them a try. You can cook any variety of bean with our basic cooking method (see Pot of Beans). Then you can use them in any recipe calling for cooked or canned beans.
When you buy beans at a farmers’ market or a busy store with a lot of turnover, you’re likely to be getting fresher beans (harvested in the last year or so). Fresh beans are less dry so they cook more quickly and evenly. If you don’t have access to a wide variety of beans, you can mail-order them from Native Seed Search (nativeseeds.org) or Rancho Gordo (ranchogordo.com).