A quick guide to Mexican beans

Amid all the recent talk of beans, guess what I found yesterday? An entire page devoted to Mexican bean varietals, on the June page of my 2010 Mexican gastronomy calendar. (Yes, I’m a food nerd.) I had the calendar turned to March for some reason, so I’d been staring at a dozen varieties of ollas. When I finally updated it — boom. Beans. There they were.

The page was too big to scan the descriptions, so here’s the key, starting from the upper left corner and moving from left to right. Now maybe you’ll realize why I’ve been so confused about their names. There are so many bean varieties here, it’s hard to keep up.

Starting with the upper left corner as No. 1, the second row far left as No. 4, etc.:

1. Alubias
2. Ayocote café
3. Vaquita roja
4. Ayocote morado
5. Habas
6. Bayos gordo
7. Moro
8. Pinto
9. Flor de Mayo
10. Negros
11. Vaquita
12. Garbanzo
13. Mantequilla
14. Ayocote negro
15. Peruano
16. Sangre de toro
17. Amarillo
18. Alberjón

I bought some Peruanos at the tianguis yesterday, and I’m excited to get ’em cooking in my clay bean pot. (As Joan mentioned in the comments yesterday, Rick Bayless says they’ve got a creamy texture, and they go wonderfully with pork.)

Have you cooked with any of these? Any tips you want to share?

Source: Todo de México Gráfica Gastronómica

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14 Responses to “A quick guide to Mexican beans”
  1. Cooking in Mexico

    I love this calendar page. Did you just turn to June in your calendar? LOL

    Mostly, the beans I see in our area are bayo, flor de mayo, negro, and peruano. They must be regional in their distribution and use.

    Mexico Cooks! has a neat bean page. http://mexicocooks.typepad.com/mexico_cooks/2009/12/frijolitos-refritos-estilo-mexico-cooks-refried-beans-mexico-cooks-style.html


  2. Lesley

    Hi Kathleen: Yes, just turned the calendar to June. I blame my tardiness on the move. :-)

    I’ve seen Mexico Cook’s bean page — I think Cristina was the one who inspired me to buy a clay bean pot. Her molletes look amazing.

  3. Nancy

    I would say the numbers are a bit mixed up… Negros would be 9, Garbanzos 7, Peruano 13, Habas, 14, Alubias 18, and possibly Amarillo is 4.

    What do you think?

  4. Adriana Legaspi

    hi Lesley! I might say that the order is different as you have reported…. alubias al at the end in the last row at the right, and then acoyotes cafes, vaquita roja at the left side and so….
    But it doesn’t really matter….
    Beans are wonderful part of our culture and life in México since centuries.
    The peruanos mixed with some clavo and canela and 2 o3 dried chiles make an extraordinary mole or CLEMOLE named Xapin Xapu from the coast of Veracruz that served with pieces of pork meat is wonderful dish with prehispanic roots.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Do not forget to visit an recommend GASTRONOMÍA PREHISPÁNICA in facebook.

  5. Nancy

    Aaah, I see now, the image is upside down for the numbers!

  6. Joan

    Darn! I was hoping there would be a contest to name the beans.

  7. Lesley

    Adriana and Nancy: Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve adjusted the image, so the numbers should be correct now. Apologize for the early-morning mistake!

  8. Kindra

    There’s the vaquita beans! :-) Aren’t they pretty? I like the taste and prefer them to the usual varieties that we eat in my house. My husband’s family sows mixed varieties of beans, so when they harvest them, they are all mixed up. For the most part, they are pinto, pinto negro (the speckling is black instead of brown) flor de mayo (another favorite) butter, and ojo de liebre. Those are our ‘every day beans. Then we also have the previously mentioned patola – which does not look like the alubia in the photo and frijol negro. There are some bags of frijol negro in the Comercial Mexicana that say Frijol Negro Queretaro. I lived for a time in QRO and I don’t remember their black beans tasting any different.

    I throw my beans in the crock pot early in the a.m. and go to work in the US. When I return at night, they’re ready. Sometimes I throw in some of those chicharrones that still have the meat on them to give them flavor.

  9. Margaret S.

    Some of the more exotic ones that aren’t sold in the supermarket here are sold by a merchant with a stall at our local weekly mercado sobre ruedas. By coincidence it was just last week that I decided to try some of these less common types of beans.

    I bought vaquita rojo, moro and ayocote morado (by the way, the picture for the latter doesn’t look like the ones I bought). Today we tried the vaquita rojo in an un-Mexican stew with Caribbean seasoning—they were excellent. Ayocote morado is very good in a sauce of dried chiles (pasilla?). Any suggestions for the moros?

    And I want to give a shout-out to chorras, not just one of our favourite bean dishes, but one of our favourite dishes altogether. Try them if you ever get a chance. You make them the next day with leftover sopa de habas, just dribble the soup onto a tortilla, tostada-like, while it fries in oil. Heavenly!

  10. sweetlife

    love all the beans, but my personal fav are pinto beans, ya I’m from Texas and we eat alot of pinto beans, I should branch out and try some thing different….


    • Lesley

      Sweetlife: Yep, it’s good to break out of the comfort zone sometimes. And welcome to the blog. I just checked out yours — love your photos.

  11. rafael patiño

    I believe because the mexican government has contracted with fmi world bank and the development bank méxico lost his black beans(sweat and with a good aroma (queretaro and veracruz kind), the bad governors have ask for money to those before mentioned bank institutions), the same méxico could loose his independence in the mexican type of corn, may be many could say I am wrong, but 30 years ago those institutions began to take away the mexican varieties of beans, fruits, vegetables, and never will let mexico to have trains as before, mexico never will be independient, but those organism countries they invented have all what he had 3 decades ago, china is not what many believe, china has not the hand made qualified, china is a dragon of paper, only Germany and México are better than many asiatic countries, and who i believe enjoy with the mexican god things are the slaves countries of the fmi, world bank and countries of south america, central america, the caribe, asiatic, even countries before coomies, mexico had good food and now the bad rulers they want to destroy it and destroy our stomachs, that is my commentaries.

  12. Jaime Guerrero

    does anyone know where I can get all these different types of beans in the US?

  13. Debra Helmer

    Jaime, Rancho Gordo carries all these beans and shipping is cheap! There are always fresh (this years crop) and Steve has the most amazing selection. http://WWW.ranchogordo.com


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