The Heritage Ranch

home of The San Dieguito Heritage Museum

The Legend of the Lima

Lured west by the claims of real estate pitchmen that our area had a wonderful farming climate, early settlers found little water and arid soil. Only lima beans, a dry season crop, would prosper with just the spring rains and the nightly ocean fog for nourishment. Unappetizing as lima beans might have seemed, they were the first crop planted when Encinitas was being settled in the late 1800s, and were the foundation of our beautiful city today. Not as glamorous as garlic, artichokes or flowers, Limas were Encinitas’ claim to fame for many years, from the 1880’s to the 1940’s.

Little was it realized that nearly 130 years later, we would be celebrating the lowly bean with annual Lima Bean Cook-offs! Lima Bean ice cream, cake, cookies, dips and many other exciting dishes have been created for previous contests – nothing like your mama’s lima beans.

This year, the San Dieguito Heritage Ranch is looking for creative Amateur, Professional and Kid chefs to compete in our Lima Bean Cookoff. Celebrity judges will determine awards in each division for each category and for the Best Vegetarian Dish. A ‘People’s Choice’ award will be selected in each division by the tasting participants. The five categories include Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish, Entrée/Soup and Dessert. Each category will be divided into Professional Chef/Restaurant, Amateur and for the first time, a Children’s division. You will be vying with other chefs in your division for cash prizes, gifts, and the coveted Lima Bean Trophy!

Staying true to our Lima roots, we will begin the tastings with pioneering family Richard Scott’s Traditional Pre-1940 Lima Beans. From there, numerous local chefs’ imaginations take over, thinking outside the bean pod to create exciting new dishes. The Heritage Ranch will provide the cooks with large dried lima beans, visit us during Museum hours 12pm to 4pm Thursday through Sunday.

To participate as a Chef in Professional, Amateur or Children’s divisions, please visit the website at for registration information and forms.

This event is free and family friendly. The Heritage Ranch’s Chuck Wagon will sell food and refreshments. A Beer Garden sponsored by Hess Brewing and Horseshoe Tournament hosted by Cardiff Riviera Horseshoe Club will add to the fun. For more information, or to buy pre-event tasting tickets, visit the website at  The Heritage Ranch is located at 450 Quail Gardens Drive in Encinitas.

Chefs! Register today!

Lima Bean Cook Off Registration

Have you ever bean to our cook off?

Guidelines for 2018

Your Challenge – Make a lima bean dish that is so good that lima bean lovers will swoon, and lima bean haters will be forced to admit to liking them.  Be creative, think outside the bean pod.

Entry Fee – waived thanks to Greenville Bean!

We can supply you with up to 10 lbs. of dried white lima beans if you wish. Lima beans have been donated by the Greenville Warehouse in Santa Ana.
Since this is a lima bean tasting event, all recipes must include lima beans.  The public will get small tastes of each entry.  

The entire event is scheduled 12pm to 4pm. You will start serving your dishes at 12:30pm and end around 2:30pm.  The awards will be presented at 3:00pm.  
Amateur chefs, Professional Chef/Restaurants, and Children will compete in separate divisions.  Each division will have a People’s Choice Award.

Celebrity Judges – A team of celebrity judges will determine the best recipe in each division and in each of the five categories.  Initially, the judges will circulate and take notes on the presentations.  At about 1:00-1:30, a member of the Lima Bean Cook-Off and Faire Committee will collect samples from each category for blind judging and give the judges their ballot forms.    Judges’ decisions are final.
Prizes awarded by the judges:

Professional Division
Best in each category - $25 plus the coveted LIMA BEAN COOK-OFF Trophy
Amateur Division
Best in each category - $25 plus the coveted LIMA BEAN COOK-OFF Trophy
Children’s Division
Best in each category - $25 plus the coveted LIMA BEAN COOK-OFF Trophy

People’s Choice Award – Every taster will be given a ballot to vote for their favorite recipe in each division.  You are encouraged to get your friends and neighbors to come to the LIMA BEAN COOK-OFF, enjoy the many selections, and, of course, vote for your creation.  

Prizes awarded by the People’s Choice -
Grand Prize - $100 plus the coveted People’s Choice THE LIMA BEAN COOK-OFF Trophy.
This prize will be awarded to the recipe that the tasters select for each division – professional, amateur, and children’s.

Award Ceremony – The awards will be presented at 3:00pm on Saturday, May 19th, on the stage.  At 2:30pm voting will end and People’s Choice ballots will be collected to allow votes to be counted.
The Lima Bean Cook-Off is counting on all applicants to fulfill their commitments.  No last minute cancellations, please.

The LIMA BEAN COOK-OFF Committee will provide –
1 to 10 lbs. dried white lima beans
Table space – a three-foot section on a white, rectangular, banquet-style table
Tasting spoons/Tasting cups, Plates, Napkins
People’s Choice voting ballot
A food thermometer for measuring the temperature of your dish.

You will provide –
Enough of your delicious lima bean recipe to serve at least 200-300 small tastes.  (Typically this is about 3 gallons.)
Utensils to serve your recipe
Hot Food container to keep food hot (140°).  Sternos/chafing dishes are okay. If you need electricity, please let us know.
Cold Food - Ice or method to keep the food cold (below 45 degrees).
Decorated space, making it uniquely yours.
Hand out samples, talk up your entry.
Your recipe and/or ingredients list as soon as possible (in order to create an “ingredients list” to be displayed in case people have allergies).
(Your recipe will be given to the Lima Bean Cook-Off and Faire Committee and may be used in our Lima Bean Cook Book)

Our Lima Bean Cook-Off cookbook features all entries and in which all participants are given full credit.
There is a mandatory meeting for all contestants on the day of the event at 11:30am at the Lima Bean Cooks’ Tent.
You can set-up as early as 10:30am on May 19th.
We will contact you to answer any questions after we have received your application.
If you want our white limas, you can pick them up at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum after April 15th , Thursday –Sunday, noon – 4 pm, unless other arrangements are made.

Please refer questions to Deb Bicher at or to Jean Bruns at  760.473.2480

Thank you and happy cooking!


Horseshoe Tournament

Get here by 9am to register to compete in our tournament sponsored and hosted by Cardiff Riviera Horseshoe Club. Sign ups start at 9am, tournament begins at 10am sharp. Doubles, draw your partner, single elimination. Win BIG prize money and support the SDHM. $20 entry fee, all are welcomed to compete.

Huge thanks!!

Greenville Bean Association donated our lima beans!