Rio Zape Beans


These dark purple beauties make a wonderful pot liquor. The beans have black stripes on them and are a lighter color before they are cooked. I purchased these beans from, the company started by Steve Sando that specializes in heirloom new world beans. According to Sando, they are also known as Hopi String Beans and while they are somewhat like pinto beans the Rio Zape beans have a deeper flavor.


  • 1 cup of Rio Zape beans (8 ounces)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • ½ cup of diced celery
  • ½ cup of diced carrot
  • 2-4 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 dried bay leaf


Rinse the beans carefully checking for any foreign material. Put the beans in a large bowl and pour 4 cups of water over them. Let sit and soften 4-6 hours. When the beans have softened, put them in a suitable pot with the water they soaked in.

Sauté the vegetables in a dry pan. I dice the vegetables quite small as I don’t want them to be the same size as the beans and I want to get the most flavor from them. Once the vegetables start to soften and stick to the pan, add a few spoonsful of soaking water from the beans and stir the vegetables. When the vegetables are just starting to get brown at the edges, turn off the heat and add the vegetables to the pot of beans. If necessary, add more water to the pot to bring the level to two inches above the beans and vegetables.

Bring the pot to a boil over high heat. Once the beans and vegetables start to boil, reduce the heat to med-high and continue to boil for 3-5 minutes. Then reduce the heat to low and let the beans and vegetables simmer for 2-3 hours. You may need a flame-tamer to keep the heat low enough. Don’t let them boil again, just keep them at a low simmer.

After two hours test a bean to see if it is cooked to your liking. Cooking times vary and it seems that at my altitude, 3200 feet, beans take a little longer than called for in most recipes. Keep testing and cooking the beans until they are to your liking.

One cup of dry beans will make about two to three cups of beans plus broth.

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