Monday, 3 March 2008


I recently borrowed a book from Glenys called "Under The Sun : Caroline Conran's French Country Cooking" and in it I read an interesting thing about beans, in particular about what she calls French beans and haricot beans as different from broad beans or lima beans etc. Whereas we tend to eat them either at the green-pod stage and much later at the dried bean stage, the French also eat them at an in between stage - when the pods are still green but have become tough as the bean seed develops inside the pod. This is how they are in late summer / early autumn ie now, in my garden. At this time the bean seeds are removed from the pod and eaten before they dry, so they are more like a podded broad bean - style. This is called the mature stage. Evidently, in general, says the author, dwarf beans are best for eating green and climbing beans are best for eating mature or dried. In Australia I am not so sure about this being right.

In the photo you can see the three stages of my beans. The only trouble here is that the pods of Tony's Black Turtle Beans go from being green, as on the left of the photo, to being multi-coloured as in the centre, which is pretty much the same colour as the Borlotti Beans. Those in the photo are a collection of both. However, the little bean seeds inside are quite different and eventually the black turtle bean seeds go black (obviously, from the name). I want to leave the black turtle beans to dry and collect for next year but I want to eat the borlotti beans at this mature but not dry stage. I never knew beans could be so complicated!
Just to confuse things further, I was talking to Tony Scarfo yesterday and he said his black turtle beans are just coming into production (at the green bean stage) as he sowed them on January 1st, to avoid them flowering in the hottest part of summer. You can also sow them the minute spring comes, so you get early and late crops which are easier to look after in our heat. I am going to put that info in my garden diary.


Maggie said...

We went into Wilsons yesterday after I had been to the physio and in walked Tony so we had a chat and bought some of his tomatoes, the ones he grew outside not in the glasshouse. They were delicious I had a tomato sandwich for my dinner. Used some of Paola's organic rye bread, it's very good.

Kate said...

Paolo's olive bread is fantastic too.