Harvesting & Storing Borlotti Beans

Borlotti Beans are such a great crop, and if harvested and stored in a certain way you will be able to keep them for several months, ready to bung in stews and casseroles throughout the autumn and winter months!

When to Harvest Borlotti Beans

As long as it remains reasonably warm and dry, then let the beans keep on growing in early autumn until the pods dry out on the stalk. The beans inside the pods will swell (you’ll see the pods getting plumper) and eventually the pods will start to turn deep purple and then brown as the foliage begins to die back. Once they’ve dried out you’ll be able to hear them rattling around when you shake a pod. This is the best time to pick them.

If a prolonged wet spell comes in, it’s sensible to pick any mature pods (those that are swollen) and dry them under cover instead. This will prevent them from rotting and going mouldy on the plant. We find laying them all out in a fruit crate in a sunny porch or greenhouse is great for drying out the pods.

Dry Out the Borlotti Beans

It’s really important that the beans are completely dry before you store them, otherwise they’ll go mouldy. Once the pods are reasonably dry (and the beans rattle), break them open and shake out the beans onto a tray. Lay the beans out in a single layer, keep them in a warm, dry place for several days until there’s no moisture left in them. You’ll know the beans are dry enough when you are unable to make an indentation in the beans with your thumbnail – they will be rock solid.

Storing the Borlotti Beans

Once fully dried, the borlotti beans should keep in an airtight container for up to a year, perhaps longer. A kilner jar is perfect, or a tupperware with a rubber seal along the rim of the lid.

Notes:

  • You can also let French beans dry out in this way to collect and store canellini beans or haricot beans over winter.
  • If you don’t want to store the borlotti beans dry, you can pod them and freeze the beans earlier in the summer, once the pods are mature (bright pink in colour)
  • You can also use borlotti beans when they are younger, and the pods are still green. Cook them like runner beans.
  • If you’d like to grow borlotti beans, our organic borlotti bean plants are a great place to start and can be planted out any time between late April and early July

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