Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Some beans

I hope you enjoyed watching that clip from Blackadder II. I hunted it out, not just to see Rowan Atkinson with a beard and wearing a rather gorgeous black leather doublet (although that was quite a treat) but to introduce these . . .

top left:
Mrs Fortune's (thank you Rebsie for the seed swap) you can read a thorough review of this bean here. The mature beans (fresh and dried) have a deliciously full flavour and great meaty texture – definitely one to grow for casseroles and vegetarian recipes.

top right:
Negritos this was my 'lucky dip' packet from the Heritage Seed Library this year. From the name and the appearance I assume it's a Mexican turtle bean. I tried the green pods and they were OK but not special, I haven't tried cooking the beans – they deserve a good Mexican recipe I think – any ideas?

Vermont Cranberry another HSL acquisition, I saved seed from 2007. I like the idea of this American Heirloom borlotti-style bean – the pale creamy green and red streaked mature pods and the beautiful cranberry red dried beans, but it hasn't been productive in my garden. It probably needs a nice open position and sun and as it's a low growing dwarf variety it has suffered in the dull damp summers of 2007 and 2008 with rampant chickweed competing with it too. I'll plant the few beans I have next year and give them another chance, I don't know why I'm persisting with it, I think I'm seduced by the name!

bottom left: San Antonio (spot the little monks!) these were one of my selected packets from the HSL this year. I'm saving the seed to grow more in 2009, the pods were huge and I like the look of the beans. I've just cooked a few San Antonio mature fresh beans (with the Poletschka beans which had split skins and wouldn't be good for storing) they have a silky smooth texture and pleasant delicate flavour; good for purees maybe and they might be nice as a salad bean flavoured with herbs and a good olive oil.

bottom right: Poletschka home saved seeds from originals from the HSL a few years ago, these are a Ukrainian variety and they do fantastically well in my garden. I've discovered that the mature beans (fresh or dried) are better than the green pods for flavour – and they are delicious. Sadly the amazing indigo colour disappears when they are cooked, they become pinky brown, but the flavour and texture are excellent!


  1. Beautiful - which is the best eating?


    PS loved the clip

  2. Hi Joanna,

    I should have written more about the beans but we were dashing off to see the Fireworks in Cambridge. I'll add some info this morning.


  3. Ha! Seeing your picture of beans (mostly) confirms it for me, I am growing Vermont Cranberry Beans. They have been the mystery bean in my garden for a couple years now (I got some pods from a grocery store and they were simply labeled 'local cranberry beans').

    Ha! to the clip too.

  4. Yum... you are giving me some great ideas for dinner!

    Celia, I miss-spoke yesterday. You have not only been nominated, you have won the award!

  5. I am so glad you have identified the Vermont Cranberry for me! The beans I liberated from Mount Vernon are a borlotti type bean, and not Vermont Cranberry as I had been led to believe. The hunt goes on to identify them!

  6. Ottawa Gardener - Can't believe that Blackadder episode is 20 years old!

    Hi Brenda - thank you - how exciting!

    Hi Matron - these Vermont Cranberry dwarf french beans were from the Heritage Seed Library. I think there my be lots of similar varities in the US – just try Googling them!!!!!



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