Why Are Heirloom Beans So Popular?

The recent popularity of heirloom beans has skyrocketed since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. But, what are heirloom beans? Simply, heirloom beans are grown from seeds that have been passed down through generations and preserved for distinguishing qualities like appearance and taste. With the food stocking frenzy that ensued amidst nationwide lockdowns, the popularity of heirloom beans soared. Highly coveted because of their storability, nutritional value, and delicious taste, the demand for heirloom beans took off in light of the pandemic. From renowned restaurant tables to home-cooked family dinners, this latest food trend may be here to stay.

One purveyor that has had a huge hand in popularizing these highly sought-after legumes is Napa Valley’s Rancho Gordo. Thomas Keller, head chef of The French Laundry, an esteemed Napa eatery, is credited with discovering Rancho Gordo’s heirloom beans from which demand and popularity burgeoned early in the pandemic. The celebrity of Rancho Gordo’s beans has grown so wildly, that the company’s website has long waiting lists for particular varieties.

So, why are heirloom beans so special? Rich in taste, individuality, and protein-rich nutrition, heirloom beans have also gained ground as a meat-substitute. In a market where industrial “meat shame” is taking hold, many families find themselves seeking nutrient-rich alternatives to animal protein. Enter heirloom beans. Not only do they carry rustic-goodness and delicious richness, but they are also quite simple to prepare. Heirloom beans are a brilliant addition to soups and stews, but they are quite easily prepared as a hearty, main feature for any meal. Simply simmer in a few ingredients like water, salt, and olive oil and you’ve got yourself a rich, delicious, high-protein nosh. 

In addition to the concerns of food supply related to the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic, new outlooks on home cooking have given rise to a greater sense of food-mindedness in Americans who may not have traditionally embraced the benefits of heirloom beans. Speaking of, given their new popularity, home cooks may have some difficulty getting their hands on hearty pellets. However, companies like Napa Valley’s Rancho Gordo can deliver them right to your door through web-based orders.

Finally, heirloom beans are highly nutritious, better for the environment than animal protein, easily prepared in a variety of ways, and can be stored safely for many years. With all these considerations, it’s no surprise that in an unprecedented time of such uncertainty, heirloom beans have vaulted into popularity.