Ark of Taste
Brown and White Tepary Bean
The namesake of both the brown and the white Tepary bean is pawi, the Papago Indian word for bean, and further, t'pawimeaning it is a bean.' The Tepary plant is adapted to the dry conditions of the American southwest; it is drought-resistant and able to mature on a single irrigation or thunderstorm downpour. The plant also holds up well against disease. Before arriving on US soil, the Tepary bean had a rich cultural history that stretched back more than six thousand years in the arid landscape of Mexico.
Both the brown and the white versions of the Tepary have a rich and nutty flavor. The beans are shelled and dried before use and are cooked into many traditional southwestern stews and casserole-like dishes as well as a ground Pinole. The Hopi Indians use the white Tepary beans to break a traditional fast by placing the beans under the hot sand and cooking them with salt water.
The beans vary in color and shape; they are oval, flattish or round and vary between a fleshly white, speckled brown, reddish-brown, or purplish-brown color. For their very small size they offer an exceptional nutritional value. While these miniature beans have a quick crop yield, they are also very difficult to harvest due to their small size and thin skins, which split open upon touch, scattering the beans.