Friday, April 10, 2015

Runner Beans

I've been wanting to do a post on Runner Beans for quite awhile. I've always grown them for their decorative value in the garden. I would build teepees and let them grow up and flower. Not only were they beautiful but I used them as a barrier crop between peppers and tomatoes. I usually would pull out the camera and get some good bee or butterfly photos as a bonus! The thing is here in the U.S. we only grow them as a decorative bean for the flowers. In Mexico and some European countries the dried bean is not only eaten but prized. The English eat the runner beans as pods.
It is Phaseolus Coccineus whereas Pole Beans are Phaseolus Vulgaris. It is believed they originated in the mountains of Central America. Most produce red flowers (think Scarlet Runner Bean) or white flowers. Although there are various other colors of salmon, purple etc....
The French call them Haricot d'Espagne. In Mexico and Central America they go by Ayacote or Ayocote. In Spain, It is called Judia Pinta.
The seeds of Runner Beans are huge. I personally love the multi-colored ones pictured here. They're like little pieces of art. Some are solid colored depending on the color of the flower.
My goal this year is not only to grow them for their floral beauty but I am growing a special one to eat this season. It is called Judia de la Granja. P.Coccineus
It is a Spanish bean from the town of La Granja de San lldefonso. The name translates: Bean from the farm. It dates back to the 1721 to the construction of the palace of La Granja. Originally it was used to feed the livestock of the workers that came to build the palace. At some point someone decided to cook it and the rest is history. Today it has it's own festival on August 25th. It is usually cooked in clay pots with pigs ears, fresh pork, chorizo onions, garlic and salt. I have never eaten the La Granja stew myself but it's legendary.
You can order the cooked beans in jars online or dried beans at high prices. As usual, I prefer to grow them myself. Here's a link for a recipe for the stew, in Spanish so you will have to use a translator.

I have another one I want to grow this year if I can isolate it enough called Black Coat. It's dated pre 1654. German botanist Michael Titus mentioned it in cataloques Plantarum as early as 1654. Its a rare runner with scarlet orange flowers and large black seeds.
I've been researching Runner Beans all winter. I think I've been bitten by the bug. Of course I've ordered more varieties than I can grow this season but I definitely want to try the seeds in a dish this year and what better than one that has it's own festival.

All tomato seeds are up and being potted up. I will post a grow list ASAP. Probably the one I'm most excited about is the West Virginia Penitentiary tomato. Tried to get seeds for this one for several years. Grown back in the 50's in the WV prison farms. Big Pink slicer. Stay tuned for pics this summer.

1 comment:

Tomato said...

Wow this is amazing. Love your blog!!