Cranberry beans are also known as Roman, borlotti, Rosecoco, shelly, Italian, October, Tongues of Fire, and horticultural beans. They are oval and medium-sized, creamy-white beans that have wine-coloured speckles and streaks much like that of a pinto bean. However, it is rounder and plumper, and the colouring is slightly different. They are also much sweeter than the pinto, with a more delicate flavour and loses its marking when cooked to become a solid colour. These New World beans were eagerly accepted by Old World farmers, who bred them into many new varieties. The cranberry bean was then taken back to the US by Italian immigrants. It is now grown mainly on the California coast. These beans are equally tasty if prepared fresh, rather than dried. Freshly shelled beans do not need soaking and can keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. In New England, cranberry beans are used for succotash. In Indiana and Ohio, they are called “shellouts” or “shelly beans” and cooked with sweet spices, nutmeg, and cinnamon. They become tender very easily and absorb aromatic spices and herbs quite well. In Italy, they are eaten fresh from the pod or dried in a wide variety of pasta dishes and soups.
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