Bean Update from Baer's Best, Nov. 7:
Late Beans - We are finally finishing our latest harvest ever, nearly a month after normal. Crop maturity was delayed by the extremely dry summer, followed by a very wet October which prevented the harvest. Fortunately, the warm early November has dried the fields and beans out enough, and we should have all of the harvest in the barn by the end of this week. This year's beans will include many of the sold out heirloom and organic beans. After final drying of the beans and grading is done, they should be available by the beginning of December. Please check back with us soon!
Charley and Carol Baer have operated Baer's Best for the better part of three decades specializing in heirloom bean varieties that have grown here in the Northeast since colonial days. Many years ago beans were a New England staple and some local people still remember the Saturday night traditional meal of baked beans and brown bread. Now many people are rediscovering the benefits and pleasures of having beans as a regular part of their diet and finding new ways to enjoy our specialty beans.
Our story begins in central Maine, where Charley got his start growing beans in the 1980's. By this time, dry bean production had been moving further west, and onto ever-larger farms for decades. But as with so many things, regional specialties and rare varieties were abandoned in favor of uniform fields.
With a fleet of mid-century farm equipment, and a handful of classic New England heirlooms from friends and other farmers, Baer’s Best was born. The farm operation has moved from one farm to another, added more equipment, and all the while Charley has continued collecting bean varieties. Now in its third decade growing and supplying beans, Baer's Best is located in southern Maine, where we grow a rotating cast of over 20 varieties of beans, some heirlooms, and some modern standards as well. Many of our varieties are no longer grown commercially anywhere else.
As a small farm we can harvest each type at peak maturity and quality. After the drying process is complete in the barn, the crop is cleaned with conventional screening machines followed by state-of-the-art gravity separation. One final time-consuming step we take with the beans is to use 100-year-old hand grading machines to do final QC. This results in a top quality product far better than commercial grades. Our crop is always fresh harvest and cooks quickly, without the need for presoaking.
In order to meet customer demand we have begun to carry beans from other growers in Maine and New York State. We source from trusted suppliers that maintain high quality standards. We now also offer a collection of other pulses and grains sourced from regional distributers.