Saturday, 7 September 2019

Borlotto "Lingua di Fuoco"

I like beans - you probably noticed! In one of my raised beds I planted this year two varieties of Runner Bean and two varieties of climbing French beans. There wasn't room for any more types, but I really wanted to grow some Borlotto beans for drying, so I was determined to make space for some, somewhere.

In the end I planted half a dozen Borlotti in a plastic crate positioned down at the bottom of my garden where the soil is really poor. This is a place where I had been unable to grow anything at all prior to the felling of my neighbour's big conifer tree.

Because of the poor soil in that location I filled the crate with decent compost, but I did have to be really careful to water the crate frequently as it dried out very rapidly. Nonetheless the Borlotti plants grew vigorously and soon submerged the 6-foot Hazel rods I had given them for support. Apart from watering them, the bean plants got no further attention.

A few days ago I became aware of a few splashes of colour amongst the foliage, so I had a closer look. Gently pulling back the leaves, I saw that the plants had a fair number of pods, some of which were already that lovely speckled red colour that ripe Borlotti have.

Having grown these beans primarily for shelling, I plan to leave them until the pods go past the red stage and turn brown, at which point I will pick them and bring them indoors for thorough drying. However, I also love Borlotti at the "flageolet" stage - that's to say partially ripe, with the beans still green (conceptually, if not literally), so I have picked just a few to use like that.

I think that immature Borlotti like this go really well with pork dishes, so mine will probably end up being paired with a Pork Tenderloin fillet that we happen to have in the freezer right now...

Isn't it a shame that you have to discard the pods? They are things of such beauty that it seems wrong to just compost them!


  1. I like to pick my Borlotti beans before the husks turn brown as I prefer the shelled beans to be plumper. As soon as I hear a slight rattle when I tap them, I pick them. Not all are ready at once so I usually check every other day and pick those that are ready. The shelled beans are put in the freezer until there is enough to cook then you get that lovely creamy fresh shelled bean flavour.

    1. That's a useful tip - I would have thought putting the raw beans in the freezer could damage their cell structure and spoil the texture. I keep my fresh beans (still in their pods) in a plastic bag in the fridge until I'm ready to use them.

  2. They freeze beautifully-no problem with their cell structure or texture as long as any air is forced out of the bag. They also freeze individually so it is easy just to pour out what you require each time straight from the freezer and pop immediately into the hot cooking liquor to help maintain their shape. Hope that helps!


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