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Valor Shelling Beans
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Valor shelling beans look similar to snow peas, with smooth, flat green pods about 3 inches long. They contain strings that must be removed before cooking and eating. Valor shelling beans are usually fairly straight, though other types of lablab beans are more curved. Inside the pods, the beans are flat and kidney-shaped. Valor shelling beans are meaty with a somewhat bitter taste. The disease-resistant plants come in both vining and bush varieties. Most commonly, Valor beans are vining. They prefer most, rich soil, but can grow in many conditions. The beautiful flowers bloom in the summer, ranging from pink and purple to white. The flowers then produce the pods from the summer into the fall.
Valor shelling beans are available in the summer and fall.
Valor shelling beans, botanical name Lablab purpureus, are known by dozens of different names around the world. They are a tropical bean found in many different countries, particularly India and several countries in Africa, with a wide variety of culinary and agricultural applications. Valor shelling bean uses include human consumption and livestock fodder. They are also used as a cover crop and compost, especially because as a legume, they improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen.
Valor shelling beans contain important nutrients such as vitamins C and B9, along with iron, amino acids, and antioxidants. The pods, beans, and leaves of valor beans also contain plenty of fiber and protein, beneficial both to the people and animals that eat valor beans.
Valor shelling beans must be cooked thoroughly before eating; the raw beans are not digestible. Smaller, more tender beans can be eaten whole after cooking, while more mature ones should have the beans removed and the pods discarded as the pods become too tough to eat. Remove the beans from the pods and soak the beans for a little while in salt water to speed up the cooking time. Then cook for about 20 minutes until they are tender. Valor shelling beans are often used in curries and stir-fries, especially paired with cumin, ginger, garlic, and onion and cooked in butter. In some places, the young leaves are eaten as well. Store Valor shelling beans in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator up to a week.
Because Valor beans grow around the world and come in several different varieties, there is an often-confusing array of names for Lablab purpureus, which used to be botanically known as Dolichos lablab. Some of the more common names for Valor beans include valor papdi, hyacinth bean, and lablab, but many more exist in localities around the world. In India, the smaller, curved varieties are sometimes referred to papri or papapdi, longer and flatter varieties are liva, and rounder varieties are specifically referred to as valor or val. Valor beans are often used for the comforting winter Indian dish Undhiyu, from Gujarat.
Valor shelling beans have been cultivated for at least 3000 years, part of the reason they have so many different names globally. They are thought to have originated in India and then spread to Africa in the eighth century. Valor shelling beans will grow in a wide variety of conditions in the tropics. They may also be grown in more temperate climates, but do not do as well and may not produce a crop unless they are protected from cold, damp weather. Today, they are most often grown in India, eastern and southern Africa, the Caribbean, China, South and Central America, and Australia.