Friday, October 17, 2014

Beans - from plant to plate

Beans are big here in Asturias, not in a huge way but in usage in all kinds of cookery. One of the traditional dishes is Fabada which is white beans with chorizo, black pudding and fat. Really not our cup of tea but very popular amongst the tourists and served in most restaurants. Being vegetarian, beans provide us with much needed protein and a stock that can be used all year round.

We sow our own bean seeds (dried from the previous year) in April indoors. These are then transplanted into soil when they germinate and put outside to grow on. We are fortunate in so much that we do not have frost and by April there is an ambient outdoor temperature throughout the night and day.

The young plants are put in the ground around the end of May. They are initially supported by an 'A' frame structure we construct out of locally sourced hazel. As they grow we may add additional support by introducing twiggy pea sticks.

Apart from ensuring that the plants wind their way through the support, they need very little attention apart from looking out for black fly which can be a problem if not caught early. We treat the black fly with soapy water with an additional spray of diluted alcohol if necessary: this usually works well.

The beans are eaten fresh as in green runner beans and dwarf kidney beans and what we don't use we leave on the plant to dry. When the outer casing is parchment-like we harvest, shell and leave to dry in the sun for a week or so. The dry beans are then frozen for 24 hours to kill any bugs and then re-dried before storing.

Our favourite dishes include home-made beans on toast, mixed vegetable and bean cassoulet, white bean and black olive pate, in salads and, bean and chestnut casserole. How do you eat yours?

The discarded bean plants are composted to provide much needed nutrients for the soil.

The insects are busy doing their work in the garden and helping, in their own unique way, the cycle of life, death and regeneration. More creatures from the garden can be found here:  Smaller tales .


  1. Am a big fan of beans - bit of a legumaniac actually. I particularly like the old American pole/climbing beans with such evocative and wonderful names. I leave the roots of the plants in the ground from all bean plants - they have nitrogen-fixing nodules on the roots, so it all adds to the fertility and well being of the veg plot. My favourite shelling bean is Lazy Housewife, and I love the colours of the crimson flowered broad beans and the pods of the borlottis.


    1. Legumaniac, I like that - I will look out for those varieties when next in the UK.


Click link to read more.