Friday, December 2, 2016

Taste testing my broad beans

This season I grew 9 varieties of broad beans. I would have grown more but I didn't have room for them all without risk of cross pollinating. I only had a few seeds of most of the varieties as they are very rare in Aus but even though the winter and spring were so wet and boggy I only lost two types. It is a loss but it could have been worse.

I have a few more new varieties that I will try this coming autumn.

I decided to taste test them this morning to see what sort of flavour range they have. I didn't cook any of the new varieties as immature beans as with the poor weather I couldn't risk even a single seed until I knew I had enough to replant next season.

Last night I placed three dried seeds of each in a muffin tin (separating of course) and covered with boiling water, then set them aside overnight to soften. This morning I cooked them one type at a time and tasted them. I placed the three seeds in a bowl and microwaved them for 1 minute with a few spoons of water. Of course, if you were cooking more you would cook them for longer, but only till just tender and definitely not till they are mushy unless making dip with them.
I then peeled them - I find them easier to peel after cooking than just after soaking. Young, immature beans do not need peeling no matter what websites or books say. If the skin is tough then they have been picked to old, and peeling wastes time, energy and food.

Here is the results, remembering that my taste buds are not very sensitive, and I prefer food on the bland and sweet side:

CRIMSON FLOWERED

This has been my favourite variety up until now. It has an unusual fruity flavour quite unlike any other broad bean when eaten raw or cooked.

I love them raw as an immature bean in salads or as they are, and they are also as yummy cooked as an immature or dried bean. The downside is the small size makes them a pain to peel.

CUSCAN YELLOW

New for this year. This broad bean is highly productive and a good grower. It did not suffer from chocolate spot even with the wet weather.

The beans are distinctly yellow in colour and a good size. It has a mild and slightly nutty flavour.


GIPPSLAND GIANT

 This bean is a tall grower and produces large beans containing large seeds. It has a very mild, almost bland flavour, good for adding to dishes for bulk without changing the flavour of the dish.

The large beans are a pleasure to peel.







GRANO WHITE

The dried beans are whiter than these in the pic which were photographed before they were totally dried.
This was another new one. The flavour was very bland and the seeds were less starchy in texture than any of the others.
I liked it but it was nothing special.





MOROCCO

This plant has big pods like Gippsland Giant but the seeds are smaller.

Another new one for this season. This one was a surprise with an outstanding flavour, nutty and sweet. This was my favourite for flavour. Only three plants survived so I am glad I got some seeds to plant next year.




I know I said that I only grew 9 varieties but I found that some of my Stone Ear variety must have been cross pollinated with a purple variety so I thought I would trial it just if case it had different qualities.

The flavour and texture turned out to be no different than 'normal' stone ear seeds. Mild.






SENORITAS HAT

Another new one for this season. Senoritas hat did not grow well for me but even though the plants struggles they did produce enough seeds to grow next year.
The flavour is very mild, almost bland.







STONE EAR

This amazing coloured broad bean also struggled but still produced well on the poor little plants.

It has a mild, starchy flavour, similar to otehr broad beans but it is still worth growing just to look at the seeds.





VIOLETTA

This is a very productive and early broad bean that produces small, dark purple when mature beans.
When immature the beans are a little bitter. People in most countries outside Australia nd the US prefer their broad beans on the bitter side with the extra flavour that comes with it. This is the only bitter variety I grow, though only slightly so.

When cooked and peeled they lose the bitterness but are still too small to be pleasant to peel.




WITKIEM MANITA

This one is also new this year. I was blown away with the delicious flavour which was mild and nutty. White broad beans do not have the bitterness that darker varieties often have so are preferred in the US particularly.

This is a strong plant but they did suffer from a fungal disease that looks very similar to Bacterial Brown Spot. I had to send a couple of affected beans away to get them tested to make sure.



All in all, my favourites for this season were - Witkiem Manita, Crimson Flowered and Morocco, but none of them were unpleasant to eat.
There are so many great ways of cooking them (and they are very nutritious) that broad beans should be in an food garden over the winter. I have to admit that up till two or three years ago I always assumed I hated them because I hate other beans. When I actually ate some (not overcooked) I realised just how delicious they are both raw and cooked.

They also make great green mulch which adds nitrogen to the soil. Unlike other legumes, broad beans continue producing nitrogen nodules on the roots right up until they die down so they are very good for the garden.















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