French name: Haricot borlotti or Haricot borlotto
With the dry, hot summer we’ve had here in France, my remaining borlotti bean pods and the beans inside have now nicely dried on the plant. I have grown borlotti beans for a number of years now as I adore the bright colour of the young pods which add a gorgeous splash of crimson red to my vegetable garden throughout the summer.
The beans can be eaten either young, fresh from the pod, or can be left to dry, as I have done, so they can be stored and used to make delicious stews and soups throughout the autumn and winter months.
Borlotti beans are very easy to grow, and undoubtably benefit from the warm summers here in France. Make sure the last of the frosts have passed and simply sow the beans directly into sunny, rich ground 4-5cm deep. As with most beans, Borlotti are hungry growers, water well and if you can, plant them in compost filled trenches to give them a good start in life.
Borlotti beans are available either in climbing or dwarf (nain) varieties but for the best impact and decoration for your vegetable garden I would always choose a climbing variety. Support the plants well as they grow, I made wigwams from slim branches we cut from trees in the garden, they were free and added a lovely rustic charm to the vegetable garden.
Harvest the borlotti beans throughout summer whilst young and towards the end of the season leave the remaining ones to dry on the plant for winter storage.
My absolute favourite recipe which uses borlotti beans has to be minestrone soup and I can not wait to get my first batch underway. The only disappointing side to the borlotti bean is that they lose their lovely speckled appearance whilst in the cooking pot! Click here for Jamie Oliver’s delicious early autumn minestrone soup recipe (if like me you’re a vegetarian you’ll have to leave out the pancetta/bacon, but don’t worry it’s still yummy) – enjoy!