Thursday, April 7, 2011

Winter Shell Bean Favorites of 2011

Soissons Vert Flageolet
A French Pole Bean
Mahalo Julie for the seeds!

Flageolets are one of the most beautiful shell beans. Most are bush varieties but Soissons Vert is a pole bean with the largest bean seed I've seen in a flageolet. The plants were prolific and grew well in the Kihei winter climate.

When cooked, they lose their lovely green color but they're tender and absolutley delicious. It appears the only source in the US for purchasing seeds is the Seed Savers Yearbook. However, they are available from Ferme de Sainte Marthe  - a French seed company,

A French Pole Bean

Tarbais beans have been grown for generations in the Tarbes region in France. They have the reputation for being the most expensive bean on the international market and retail for over $15 per lb. Tarbais are the authentic bean for making cassoulet but they're delicious on their own.

The Tarbais were as prolific as the Soissons and grew well in our winter climate. Tarbais seeds are also available from the Seed Savers Yearbook.

Purcell Mountain Farms markets Tarbais beans for cooking - they're sold in
1 lb packages and they were my source for seeds.

Both French beans were exceptional in every way.

Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco
An Italian Pole Bean

Lingua di Fuoco are another beautiful and delicious bean. They're definitely a cool season bean and aren't as heat tolerant as the Soissons or Tarbais. If you grow these in Kihei, I suggest planting at the end of December or the 1st week of January so they're growing during the coolest months of the year.

I've grown 2 different Italian brands and I recommend Franchi. They're available in pole and bush varieties and can be purchased from Seeds From Italy. The pods develop their bright red coloration as they grow and they're easier to shell after they turn from green to ivory.