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Jul 15, 2010 02:50 PM

Fresh butterbeans, field peas, shucked oysters?

I think I know the answer already: not available. But I'm planning a southern dinner so I'm asking....does any know if fresh field peas or butterbeans (baby limas) can be had for purchase in the Boston area? Also anywhere to buy shucked oysters?


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  1. I think you should clarify for New Englanders what you mean by field peas, which I believe are peas of the African variety (like cow peas, black-eyed peas, et cet.), not the "English" sweet pea. Sweet peas are still in season local farmer's markets. I'd be happily astounded if anyone had field peas in season locally, let alone butterbeans - string beans have just started coming into season. Cuz we're in New England, not the South....

    Shucked oysters: check your local fishmongers to see what provenance oysters they are selling and the price for shucked. Of course, a lot of people still avoid eating oysters in mid-summer (and local coastal waters are very warm, about a month ahead of usual, which is commonly felt not to show off local oysters at their best - summer is classically the height of clam-devouring season - but we've also not had much in the way of red tides closure of shellfish beds either).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Karl S

      With what Karl is suggesting, you will also have to ask your fishmonger if they will shuck oysters. Pre-shucked are available by the pint and sometimes 1/2 pint, but very limited varieties (I think some from shellfish processors in Maine and occasionally Washington, but that may only be larger quantities.) Courthouse seafood in Cambridge usually has a couple of pints, maybe 1/2 pints from time to time. Market Basket and sometimes Johnnie's also carry pints, but they are all smalls and while sometimes from maine, often are frozen from elsewhere.

      Fresh cranberry/roman/shell (and favas) are more common locally (not necessarily locally grown, but as the season goes on they are available along with local favas) as they sell well in Italian produce markets. Most right now are probably from NJ. For more variety and specifically New England options, Sid Wainer would probably be the best option -- they have a private label of some nice dried baby limas at least and have some other dried varieties such as butterscotch, plus whatever fresh local beans are available (right now small favas). Unfortunately its a day trip (New Bedford).

      1. re: itaunas

        thank you! Sid Wainer has a web site and does mail order...

    2. for what its worth, many of the fresh-frozen field peas and baby limas are virtually as good as "fresh" -- unless the fresh is right out of one's own garden that morning.

      3 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        Me, I actually prefer dried baby lima beans; they have a lovely flavor and silken texture, and are what I prefer to make succotash with fresh sweet corn. And those are easily found in local supermarkets. But I've always thought that butter beans were the large, flat version of lima bean (though not Fordhook, which I believe are rounder and thicker), not the baby lima beans (unless we're talking baby butter beans, it would seem).

        1. re: Karl S

          I just did a quick web search...there are two types of lima beans, larger and smaller. In the south, "butter beans" are the smaller and considered much more of a delicacy than larger limas. I think but I'm not sure that the "baby limas" are butterbeans. I'll try the dried baby limas. Thanks.

          yes, by field peas I mean cow, black-eyed, etc. I love dried black-eyes, but the fresh ones are something special. Sometimes there are fresh "shell" beans at farmers markets, but to my southern taste buds, they are quite bland.

          1. re: Madrid

            Fresh shell bean season starts in August here.

      2. Favas should still be available, and I would think that they'd make a decent substitute for the butterbeans, no?

        2 Replies
        1. re: celeriac

          shucking oysters is not that difficult and requires only a proper knife and a little practice. you have to push through the hinge and then it opens up beautifully.

          1. re: celeriac

            edamame beans taste more like fresh baby limas than favas. neither one is "southern" though.

            dried baby limas and fresh/frozen are two different animals, the latter being more vegetal, the former being silkier, and taking to one's seasonings better.