Black beans, botanically-known as Phaseolus vulgaris, are native to the Americas.
One of over 500 varieties of kidney beans, black beans are also known as turtle beans, caviar criollo, and frijoles negros.
These beans date back at least 7,000 years,
when they were a staple food in the diets of
Central and South Americans.
Black beans come in dried form and are
not eaten fresh. The beans must be soaked, reconstituted, and cooked before eating.
When buying bulk dried black beans,
buy only as much as you will use in a month.
Packaged dried beans should contain no broken beans and should be in tightly-sealed packages.
Tiny pinholes in dried beans indicate bug infestation
and should be avoided.
Also avoid any shriveled or broken beans.
Dried black beans should be stored in a sealed container in a cool, dry place up to 1 year. When re-stocking, do not mix new beans with any remaining older dried beans. They will cook at different rates. Older beans will take longer to cook.
To freeze cooked beans, drain first and place in an airtight container. Use frozen cooked black beans within 6 months. The beans are about the size of a pea, up to 1/2-inch long, with the slightly less-pronounced boat-shape common to kidney beans. They have a satiny black skin and a white center. When cooked,
the beans have a creamy texture with a strong,
slightly sweet flavor.
In Brazil, a country that, along with India, grows more black beans than any country in the world— beans have been given an exclusive place on the Brazilian Food Pyramid. In other words, beans are recommended as their own unique food group!