The big firm beans are not traditional black turtle beans. Ayocotes are runner beans (like the more well-known Scarlet Runners.) Ayocote Negro are firm, without being starchy and have a darker, inky bean broth than other runners enjoy. They are large, bold and one of the first beans we recommend if you're trying to sell a "steak and potatoes"-type on heirloom beans.
For some reason, Ayocote beans fell out of favor with many Mexicans except in specific indigenous communities. They were an important pre-conquest crop, they are beautiful and they've got a supreme meaty goodness about them that's hard to resist. I see them in the markets but I can't remember ever having been served Ayocotes of any color in Mexico. It's a shame!
Nothing makes me roll my eyes like hearing our customers say, "They look too pretty to eat!" but I do understand perhaps buying Ayocote Negro just for their incredible looks. Just don't tell anyone.
Originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, the Ayocote family was one of the first cultivated crops of the New World. They are grown all over central and northern Mexico. If you plant them, you can enjoy the flowers, eat the pods as a broad bean or shell them fresh for shelling beans, but the best way to enjoy them is dried so you can experience their fully developed flavor.
If you should decide to plant a few, you'll find the white flowers edible and a distinct treat in their own right.
Cooking suggestions: Pot beans, salad, chili, BBQ beans, soup ingredient
Latin name: Phaseolus coccineus