FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
ORDERING AND SHIPPING
What is your favorite bean?
You’d think I’d love this question, being the sort of person who likes to impose his taste on others, but I don’t. I love all my beans! They all serve a different function and I love each one in a different way. If our descriptions of the beans aren’t helping you enough, why not try the Desert Island Sampler? These are a collection of our current crop of beans that I’d take with me to a desert island. I think it’s a good place to start.
Why isn't my favorite bean available?
It can be frustrating when you fall in love with a bean and suddenly it’s gone. But unlike companies that just distribute beans, we grow them and they are a vegetable and once this year’s crop ends, there’s no magic reserve we can call on. It’s the downside of offering fresh dried beans but it’s nature!
Occasionally we’ll retire a variety but we’re saving seed stock and will grow it again in the future. This is pretty rare.
Do you offer gift cards or gift certificates?
We do! You can purchase them online HERE and at our retail store in Napa.
I just placed my order. When will I get my shipment?
It takes us one to two days to process your order and then it ships from Northern California. We process and ship orders Monday through Friday, via FedEx Ground or US Postal Service. A shipment can take from 2 to 5 working days to be delivered after it leaves our warehouse, depending on where you live and what shipping service you selected. Please call us (707/259-1935) to arrange for faster shipping if you need your order to arrive sooner.
What do you charge for shipping?
FREE SHIPPING on orders $75 and over (applies to FedEx Ground shipments within the 48 contiguous states only)
For orders less than $75:
Our flat-fee shipping charges via FedEx Ground are as follows:
West Coast: $10 (regardless of weight)
Central and East Coast: $12 (regardless of weight)
One pound or One Thousand pounds, it's the same price.
Our flat-fee shipping charge via US Postal Service is as follows:
$15 each 20 pounds
All shipments to Hawaii, Alaska, P.O. boxes, and APO/FPO/DPO addresses must go via USPS.
Do you offer quantity discounts?
We don't, but if you take advantage of our flat rate shipping fee, the more you buy, the less expensive the final price per pound is for you. We know of many offices or groups of friends who get together to place one large order and the shipping is negligible.
What about international shipping?
We ship to Canada regularly but the shipping prices are high and there can be some surprise duty fees for you to pay on the Canadian end. Please call our offices at 707/259-1935 and we can get you an estimate of what it will cost. We also offer International Checkout. Select this when you're ready to check out and they make all the arrangements for shipping your order to you.
Should I soak my beans overnight before cooking?
There are many thoughts and no one perfect way to make beans. Soaking the beans will speed up the cooking but you have to wait to do it so how much time are you really saving? We often soak in the morning and cook the beans in the afternoon for dinner but we also just cook the beans and wait for them to be done. Most employees here start as avid soakers and end up just cooking without soaking. We feel a key step is to allow the beans to really come to a full boil for about 10 minutes. Then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until tender. See our Cooking page for tips, a video, and our master bean recipe.
What’s the best bean for Pasta Fazool (Pasta e Fagioli)?
Tarbais is the classic but we have grown Tarbais seed (from Tarbes, France) here in California. We are marketing the beans as Cassoulet out of respect for the terroir of the French Tarbais bean. We also like using Royal Coronas and many like Flageolet.
A big smoked ham hock?
What about gas? How do I reduce it?
Another favorite subject! In our business, we call this a "Gift With Purchase." All I can say is Mexico and India, and other legume-eating countries don’t seem to be as obsessed about it as we are. I believe the more you eat, the less you are bothered, despite what the childish rhyme says. If you haven’t had beans in a long while and saddle up to a huge bowl of chili, chances are you may suffer. But when you incorporate beans into your daily diet, they rarely are a problem.
Many, many people believe that soaking the beans and changing the water helps.
Can I plant the beans you sell?
You can and we’re always flattered when people do. We know of one commercial farmer that actually built his seed stock from our retail bags! It’s best to plant the beans as soon as your soil is warm, after your last frost.
Please note: we sell the beans as food, and while you can plant them and have great success in the garden, we make no guarantees about germination and we can’t offer any support in growing them. We just don’t have the manpower, and the requirements vary by region. Your best bet is to contact your local Master Gardeners association. We also have a Google Group called Bean Buddies where members can ask and answer questions about growing. Membership is free, and each spring we send beans to members interested in trying them out in their gardens.
I ate a raw bean and got very sick. You should warn others not to eat raw beans.
It’s unfortunate but most of us don’t have wise old grandmothers to aid us in the kitchen and warn us about this and that. I would have thought it was obvious but I have to say it: Our intention is that you thoroughly cook the beans before eating them. Soaking is not cooking. You need to cook the beans until they are soft and delicious. You will not enjoy them less than completely cooked and apparently they make some people sick.
Are your beans gluten free?
All of our products (which are indigenous to the Americas) are naturally gluten free. You can enjoy them with a reckless abandon. We make no special efforts, however, to keep things gluten free and it's possible that there can be some cross-contact in the fields and cleaning facilities. Dried beans need to be rinsed (and well!) so any potential danger should go right down the sink.
Are your beans organic?
No. Let me say if you’re going for an all-organic diet, my hat is off to you. If you’re open minded, I’d ask you to consider that conventionally grown beans are pretty green, certainly greener than many organic versions of other products. Beans have few natural enemies, don’t require loads of water or fertilizer, and they store and ship well. Most years we don’t have to even use a pesticide but my goal more than anything is saving heirloom varieties.
There was some concern for our beans in the Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project. Foreign-grown food should always be a consideration, but we've found that our growers in Mexico are beyond organic, although they can't afford certification.
Why don’t you sell your beans at my local store or anywhere in my area?
We’re always looking for good partners to help us sell our products. They are welcome to call us and set up a wholesale account. See our Where to Buy page for stores that might be in your area.
How old are your beans? When should I order for the newest crop? How long do they last?
All of our beans are less than two years old (95% less than one) and we store them in a climate-controlled facility. The shelf life of a dry bean can be extended many years beyond that but we like to offer the freshest dried beans possible. Beans are vegetables that are planted in the spring and harvested in autumn, but they don’t always get cleaned and processed right as they come out of the field so we may introduce the new stock later in the year, depending on need and availability.
It would be great if you could eat beans within six months but easily they have their charms past five years if you store them in a dark, cool, dry place. I would tell you the age of some commercial beans but it might upset you!
Where can I find nutritional information for your beans?
We do not have specific nutritional information for each bean that we carry. Despite the thousands of varieties, most beans are nutritionally similar, providing a high-fiber, low-fat source of folate, iron, and protein. See our Beans and Health page for more information on the health benefits of beans.
Do you have a wholesale program?
We do! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.