Saturday, December 1, 2012

Broad bean - er - ama!


On the last day of spring we harvested our broad beans.

For months our broad bean plants have been growing in our kitchen garden. They started as beans saved from another season's harvest and then planted into our rich, composty soil. Slowly over the weeks those seeds pushed their way out of the ground and became little plants. And then over the months their stalks grew taller and thicker, their leaves filled out and then they bloomed with pretty white flowers. And finally, those tall leafy plants that started as beans, started growing pods of beans of their own. Each flower a pod, each pod filled with beans.



And we watched those pods. We saw them change from little green slithers to fat and chunky. We saw them get longer and larger and we noticed the bulge from each bean inside.

And we watered them and weeded them and kept the slugs off them. And as the pods got heavier we tied the plants up to stakes to help them stay up.


And then last week or the week before we started picking some of the fattest, highest pods for our meals. Just a few at a time to ensure they had enough time to grow to their plumpest.


But late Thursday night when I was out collecting slugs (as you do), I noticed that an animal, possibly a possum, had been feasting on our precious beans. That animal had been greedy, tearing pod after pod apart and gobbling the beans. Double podding them even.

So Friday evening, before we thought they were ready, and after school and work and dinner, we took a book and a beer and harvested the rest. It was a lovely balmy night and we took turns reading to each other as we picked.

It was a week or two earlier than we would have liked to harvest them. But better early than never. Our home is in the middle of a forest, our boss is mother nature, she decided.


And see those pale pink nodules on those roots? In one of those mysterious relationships between bacteria and plants that we don't completely understand, he calls it symbiosis, plants take nitrogen from the air, store it in those nodules for slow release nutrients as they grow and then when the plants dies and decomposes they put nitrogen back into the soil. That makes broad beans plants as delicious for the soil as their bean are for us. So we snapped the bean plants off at their bases leaving the roots in the soil for fixing and their stalks we chopped back into the soil. Clever plants I say.

And us? We've got a crate filled with beans on the floor of the kitchen waiting to be eaten in all kinds of dishes over the next few weeks. That is if the girls don't eat them all raw first.

Do you go batty for the broad bean?
What's your fave way to eat 'em?
Do you double pod?
Can you believe its December?!

Happy summer/winter my friends.

Bye. xx

39 comments:

  1. oh yes you too. I can't believe one day it was the beginning of spring there and now you already have broad beans! It gives us over here something to look forward to, enjoy! Heather x

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  2. 'What's your fave way to eat 'em?' maybe should read 'What's your faba way to eat 'em?' - because the botanical name for broad beans is Vicia faba.
    Oh dear - out here in the Tasmanian bush there's not much to do except play word games.
    xxxxx

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    Replies
    1. Ha! And thank goodness, not for very much longer.
      Eeeeeep!! Can't wait. xx

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  3. Totally batty for the bean!! Love them so much! I have the most fantastic broad bean pesto that is SO GOOD and we have it in many, many ways of course - ie pasta, pizza, dipping blah blah.. Very easy, as long as you have loads of kids to help with the double podding! lol.
    Pesky possums!

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  4. We move into a new house 5 days before Christmas and on my wish list is to plant a veggie patch. Your phrase "if my girls don't eat them raw first" makes me so hopeful that growing some veg in our own backyard in suburbia, across the road more or less, from Coles, might inspire my fussy fuss pot kiddies to fall in love with veg!! You give me hope Kate! I hope my kidlets will be batty for the bean!

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  5. I love them, but don't grow them cos everyone else grows them and wants to give the away. I'm to lazy to always double pod and I love them in a simple salad with feta and red onion.

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  6. Dad loves growing broad beans. The only way I like them is to take off the outer skin and eat them raw!

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  7. Broad beans remind me of my grandfather who grew them in the backyard. After harvesting, he would fill a bowl with soapy water and then he would cut the stalks into 20cm pieces and since they were hollow, use the broad bean stalk to blow bubbles with. We used to love to eat the beans raw, straight off the plant, and then pester him until he made us each a bubble stick so we could blow bubbles. Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful memory. Diana

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful BB memory Diana.
      I'm so going to have a go at that with my gang.

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  8. My kids were eating them raw tonight and declaring them yum...I'm still scarred by wrinkly grey ones my grandma served!

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  9. We have broad beans in vegetarian paella.

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  11. Hi. I've been reading your blog for a whiile, but I've never commented before and I thought now was as good a time as any! I'm sure you're bored of hearing this, but it's funny to think that you're going into summer when here in England we're settling in for a cold winter (it's 9pm here and the fire is burning, whilst outside the cars are iced over!).

    I'm growing broad beans next year, but this year we only did French runner beans and an English variety. We didn't get to pod them, we ate them whole. And there are two drawers in the freezer full of them (we blanche them then freeze). A friend grew broad beans this year and I had so much fun podding them (and then eating them in salads).

    Anyway. This is a very random comment, but I wanted to say hi!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the comment Millie.
      Not random and never boring.
      And hi back!
      I spent the whole of our very long winter looking at photos of what you guys on the other side of the planet were growing and getting excited for our season. I think that's one of the best parts of blogging.
      I think I'm going to get blanching and freezing tonight too.
      I hope you have a wonderful week.

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  12. It is unbelievably December in all it's summery-ness! Thank you for sharing the story of the broadbeans..fascinating.

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  13. My mother used to serve up frozen broadbeans when I was a child and I detested them...but now that I've tried fresh broadbeans I'm a fan.

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  14. I've never heard of double podding! What is it?!
    I think I'd be a fan but I have lived a sheltered food life and haven't really had any exposure. I'm sure I wouldn't know what to do with them except eat them raw. I have been given an envelope with home grown seeds though that I should plant when the time is right. When do you plant yours?

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    Replies
    1. Hey Maggie,
      The broad bean when it comes out of its pod can be eaten as is or you can remove its skin from it and it it like that.
      They are sweeter double podded.
      We plant ours in Autumn.

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  15. I love your idea of reading to each other while you work. That sounds just about perfect. xx

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  16. I love this!! and I love broad beans, I grew some this year for the first time and they were the BEST I've ever tasted! so good. And I love your blog, it always inspires me.
    x Zannah

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  17. Elliot is mad for them. If ever he goes missing I know I'll find him in the 'bean-bean' patch.

    Last week I harvested all of ours. Fried up with chorizo, garlic and red onion with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon is my fave. . . Not so vegetarian friendly though. Stephanie Alexander also has a delicious dip recipe called byessar.

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  18. My favourite recipe for broad beans is a Weight Watchers one, "Warm pasta salad with chicken, broad beans and pesto". And because I freeze the podded and blanched broad beans in 300 bags, we enjoy it all year round .... but it is definitely best at the height of summer when you can also use freshly picked cherry toms and basil (garlic too, if you have it)! Yum!!

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  19. A lovely beany story. You might like Suburban Tomato's recent post on things that go with broad beans. I have grown them before but dug them as a green manure but I really intend to grow them my next cool season. I will look hungrily at the suggestions that others pose.

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  20. Double pod for sure, even though it's a pain...much sweeter that way. My favourite recipe using broad beans is a smashed peas and broadbean pasta (in a creamy sauce). Yum.
    Yes...we net all our fruit & veg - possums, wallabies, parrots, antichinus, skinks...the humans wouldn't get a look in otherwise!

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  21. Love them double podded for sure cooked and smashed on bread with a bit of garlic. Keep it simple is the best, yum they are just a perfect food. Our children like yours happily eat them straight off the plants. Lovely to see you at Collingwood. x

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  22. Ooh i have never grown them but I would love to. Well done saving them from the pesky pests.

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  23. These photos Kate, just perfect captures! Our friends just harvested their broad beans and we were lucky enough to be given a load. The mister made a magnificent risotto with them, so they are definitely on our planting list for next time!!

    Your Saturday recharge day sounds the best! We really need one of those like never before..x

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  24. i harvested and ripped out the first of three Broad Bean beds yesterday. I've got loads to give away! They were getting rather big - and after a month of using them I'm ready to finish up - I'll be blanching the beans and freezing many of them! Aren't they just magical, the way they make the soil richer too? I cut mine off at the base. It's fabulous.

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  25. Hi Foxes Lane,
    I grow them too.I love using them for bruschetta. Blanched and skin removed, i mash them with soft goats cheese, some garlic and olive oil, some cracked pepper and chopped mint. I sometimes add plain old peas too. This then goes on some toasted slices of baguette..i might make some for Christmas Day, if i still have some growing

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  26. right now it's pouring buckets the wind is howling, the chimes are chimeing, colder than billy tooth picks, and I hear all your lovely broad bean stories in sunny climes, a hint of jealousy-well maybe! But then again I look up on the foothills and they're dusted with snow, clip clap. I live in the Pacific Northwest just across the border from Vancouver B.C.. Love to hear all the southern hemi news, thanks!

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  27. harvested ours on Sunday too! Love them double podded and smushed with garlic, olive oil, s&p, & Lemon on toast. Yummo! We did a heap of blanched and frozen too. Happy Summer days to you. xx

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  28. I plant broadies every year, I love that they need minimal looking after, and the kids love podding them with me. Delicious green jellybeans!

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  29. I do go batty for broad beans and found it so interesting your bit about nitrogen. When I pulled out my plants this year, my dad gave me a little instruction on those very nodules. He also told me how my forebears (1880s and my great, great, great grandfather - Josiah) back in the UK would harvest the bbeans then burn those roots and stalks and sell them as potash, or fertiliser!

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