by Steve Sando

Timber Press, $19.95, 179 pages

Dry beans are not on everyone’s shopping list — in fact, many dislike them. But those are people who are using canned beans as ingredients. Dry beans are totally different: far more tasty, healthier and very economical. The author of this book argues that dry beans harvested within a year are even more flavorful.

The Rancho Gordo Heirloom Bean Grower’s Guide: Steve Sando’s 50 Favorite Varieties is mainly an heirloom-bean growing book but it also acquaints the reader with the fifty most common heirlooms, each one presented on a double page with a beautiful half-page photograph, a good description and the author’s stories that relate to that specific bean. The 34-page introduction describes beans’ botany, history, and growing tips, plus beans’ health benefits. The book concludes with 15 recipes using heirloom beans — some simple but most somewhat involved recipes, none beyond the average home cook’s ability. The book is superbly produced and illustrated, and the accompanying stories are interesting and entertaining. The index is excellent and well cross referenced.

Reviewed by George Erdosh