The basic principles and guidelines for choosing the best Anasazi beans are similar to those for choosing any type of dried legume. The most important considerations relate to size, freshness, cost, taste and availability. The uniqueness of the Anasazi bean will influence these factors heavily. In addition to cost and edibility considerations, the Anasazi bean's unique two-tone color pattern and ancient origins often are considered when using the beans for decorative purposes or when creating authentic American Indian dishes.
Dried Anasazi beans are similar in size and shape to pinto beans. There typically is little size variation in the dried beans, but beans that are consistently smaller than pinto beans may not be fully mature. Beans of a consistent, average size should be favored.
The freshness of the Anasazi beans plays an important part in choosing the best beans. Despite the legend of their reintroduction to the modern palate by means of an archaeological discovery, most dried beans will become difficult to cook after a year or two. Additional soaking and cooking time is required for older beans, making them less favorable for use. Freshly dried and packaged Anasazi beans retain much of their moisture and are much easier to prepare.
Anasazi beans are a unique legume and carry a higher cost than most beans. This is in part because of the arid regions in which they are grown and in part because of the uniqueness of the bean itself. Although many specialty groceries and markets sell the beans, better prices may be found through reputable dealers on the Internet. The price of the beans also may be balanced with the freshness of the crop.
Taste is perhaps the most important factor for those looking to purchase Anasazi beans. Growing conditions and freshness have a large impact on taste, although the processing of the beans also may affect the taste. Online reviews may be used to judge quality, but the best measure of taste will come from a personal taste test. The criteria for taste preferences differ from person to person, and the sweetness of a bean grown in a particularly arid region may be unfavorable to a person who enjoys an earthier aroma.
Anasazi beans often are used in dishes that make use of their unique aesthetics. The bean itself has a white and red two-tone color pattern. The cooked beans very rarely keep this color pattern but instead exhibit a creamy pink color.