Meet the Maker: Camellia Beans

History of red beans and rice

Traditionally red beans and rice were served on Mondays in Creole homes. Why? It was a great way to use up the pork bones from Sunday dinner. The bones, beans, vegetables, and spices would be simmered slowly in a big pot and then served over rice for a hearty meal after a long day of work.

No one knows for sure who served it first, but it is an example of all the cultures of a place combined in a single dish. You will find similar bean and rice dishes in Latin, Caribbean, and African cuisines. Most likely, the dish came from refugees and immigrants recreating a traditional dish of their homeland using local ingredients.

It is now an important part of the identity of Louisiana and specifically New Orleans. You will find it served at restaurants and in private homes. It is a working man’s weekly meal and a special occasion dish to be shared. Serve it with a slice of cornbread and some sausage, and you’ve got a taste of NOLA in a bowl. 

History of Camellia beans

Camellia beans

Every Southern cook has their favorite bean for red beans and rice, but one of the top choices for those serious about their beans is Camellia’s. They have been serving up beans since 1923. 

The company was started by an immigrant from the West Indies named Sawyer Hayward. He started supplying produce and dry goods to other vendors in the French Market. As the population of Caribbean immigrants grew, so did his bean business. 

The company is still family-owned and operated. The grandchildren of the founder continue to be hands-on and ensure that only the best beans make it into each bag. The company prides itself on working with its growers to get the beans that surpass the USDA standards and pay top dollar for them. You can be assured that your pot of red beans and rice is made with the best you can get.

How to enjoy red beans & rice at home 

Red beans and rice

Red beans and rice can be enjoyed at many restaurants (especially in the South), but it is a dish made for cooking at home. You leave it to simmer all day and then feed a whole hungry crowd. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

A few tips for perfect red beans and rice:

  • Use small red beans as they keep their shape better than bigger beans during the slow cooking process. Or just use the Camellia beans that came in your Taste of NOLA B.I.T.E. Box.
  • If you like the smoky flavor of the sausage, let the andouille simmer with the beans instead of just adding it near the end of the cooking time.
  • Don’t skip the cornbread!

Our favorite recipes:

Louisiana Style Red Beans & Rice by Budget Bytes

New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice by Serious Eats

Red Beans and Rice by Chef Lola’s Kitchen

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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