I thought about replacing this photo with one that was correctly exposed, but then I thought it had a rather Winslow Homer look about it that suited the topic quite well. I especially liked the newspaper background – I mean – just how wholesome can you get in a small first floor flat in the center of a city? But don’t worry I’m pretty normal most of the time!
The thing I wanted to write about is the flexibility of the borlotti bean. You can eat it early – I daresay you could eat it in the pod if you wanted, but that’s not what we mostly grow them for. What we are looking forward to is the bean itself once it’s reached a decent size in the pod. The beans develop fairly quickly and swell inside while the the pods are still quite green – the lovely mottled red markings only appear later, and the markings on the beans later still. From a culinary point of view they’re delicious at all their stages and we can choose when we eat them. At the earliest stage while the beans are swollen inside the green pods, they’re lovely eaten raw before the start to get mealy. Left on the vine they progress to the ‘half dry’ stage when they’re just soft enough to bite into, you can cook them in sauces or soups without soaking them. Once the pods have withered and gone brown they’re fully dried and will need soaking first. Of course they shrink and lose weight throughout the drying process.
For what it’s worth we picked 5lbs of pods yesterday from which we harvested 2lbs of semi dried beans which we froze immediately ready for the winter. Next year we’ll need to get them in a bit earlier and I think they’ll do well on our allotment.