A few more tips for Borlotti Beans…

Last week we covered drying and storing Borlotti Beans, which prompted a few more queries about how to cook with them and whether you can freeze them fresh. ┬áHere’s the low down for anyone who is keen to learn more…

Freezing them:

  • Pick the bean pods when they have swollen, but before the pods start to dry out. The bean pods will be a bright pink at this stage, and the beans inside will have developed a nice pink marbling effect. (After this stage the pods will start to turn deep purple and then brown as they dry out)
  • Shell the beans, removing the pretty borlottis from their pods and pop them in portions in bags in the freezer. You don’t need to blanche them.
  • You can then cook them from frozen, just add to boiling water and boil for approx 20-30 mins until they are soft.

Drying them:

  • Pick the bean pods after they have started to dry out – ideally the pods will have started to turn dark purple or reached the brown stage. However, try to do this during a dry spell, and if the weather does turn very wet for a prolonged forecast, then better to pick them and dry them under cover so that they don’t start to rot.
  • Dry the pods out completely so that all the pods are brown, and you can hear the beans inside rattling when you shake them. A greenhouse or porch, or a dry room in the house is perfect, and lay the pods out on trays or veg crates.
  • Once fully dried, shell the beans. Put the beans on a tray and let them dry out fully before storing them in an airtight container. You shouldn’t be able to dig your thumbnail into the beans – that’s how you can tell that they are dry enough.
  • You can store them easily for 12 months in a dark cupboard, maybe longer.
  • When you want to cook them, soak in a bowl of water overnight (a handful per person is about right). Then boil in water for approx 40 mins until they are soft.

Foodie ideas:

Once cooked as above you can use the beans for any of the following dishes:

  • Hummus – just add tahini, lemon juice, cooked garlic and a little olive oil or butter and whizz up in a blender
  • Add to stews and casseroles – meat or veg based
  • Use in cassoulet style dishes with lots of garlic, thyme and bay
  • Mix in with cooked greens or salads
  • Soups