Today I was slightly disappointed at the farmer's market because the folks who were selling the unusual winter squash varieties last week weren't there. I wished I'd bought more last time and stored them. Perhaps they'll be there next week. But I meandered along looking for other unique vegetables or fruits. As I neared the end of the market, I spied these shiny jet black beans a gentleman had in a mason jar. They were the size of a small pea. The gentleman whose name is Don said they were Cherokee beans. Except Don would only sell just a few to each customer for planting not enough for eating. All the rest of the beans he grows he saves for himself to eat during the winter. I pondered this a while and finally I talked Don into giving me more than just a few so I could at least taste them.
This shiny jet black bean is called the Cherokee Trail of Tears Bean. When the Cherokee were driven off their land in the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina and marched across the country they could only take what they could carry. The Cherokee carried this tiny black bean variety with them. They'd been growing these black beans before Europeans came to America. This black bean was passed down generation to generation. When the few remaining Cherokee got to Oklahoma they planted this same tiny black bean. This ancient bean has been saved till today when I received it. It's as if one of my ancestors gave me this tiny black bean. Interestingly I also read these black beans have been used in jewelry and in dyeing fabric, yarn, and thread. I'll save a few of these black beans and plant them next year. Hopefully I'll grow enough to pass them on to someone else. Now how to cook a small handful of beans. Should I soak them first? Thanks for reading and for all your comments.