Are dried beans better than canned or frozen beans? Many people believe that dried beans are the healthiest option since they are not typically processed like canned and frozen foods. However, the cooking time required before eating dried beans can be quite lengthy. If you’re lucky enough to have a bumper crop of borlotti beans this year, you may be wondering how to best preserve them for winter. Drying borlotti beans is a great option, as it not only allows you to store them for a long time but also intensifies their flavour.
What are Borlotti Beans?
Borlotti beans are a type of legume that is native to Italy. The pods are straight and 15-16 cm long, white in colour with evident red streaks, containing 6-7 medium-large sized, oval-elongated grains which turn creamy white streaked with red. The plant reaches a maximum height of 40-45 cm with an erect, robust, vigorous habit and tolerates heat well. The foliage is dark green with white flowers. Borlotti beans are a good source of fibre and protein and can also be used as a replacement for meat in vegan and vegetarian dishes. They have a slightly nutty flavour and are often used in soups and stews.
When cooked, the beans should be firm but not crunchy. If they are overcooked, they will become mushy and lose their flavour. Dry Borlotti beans can be found in most speciality food stores, or online.
How To Dry Borlotti Beans?
Drying beans is important because it removes most of the moisture to make it safe for storage. It’s a simple process that can be done in a variety of ways.
1 – Sun Dry
To sun dry borlotti beans, start by spreading them out on a clean, dry surface in a single layer. Then, place the beans in direct sunlight for several hours, turning them occasionally to ensure that all sides are exposed to the sun. Once the beans are dry and brittle, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Sun drying is a simple and effective way to preserve borlotti beans, and it helps to retain their nutritional value.
Note: Sun-dried beans have a unique flavour that is perfect for use in soups, stews, and salads.
2 – Use a Dehydrator
First, spread the beans in a single layer on a dehydrator tray (amazon link – opens in a new tab). Set the temperature to 50°C and the dehydration time for 12 hours. After 12 hours, check the beans for moisture; they should be dry. If they are not completely dry, continue dehydrating them for another 2-3 hours. Once the beans are dried, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. They will keep for up to six months.
When you’re ready to use them, soak the beans in water overnight before cooking them. This method of drying beans is easy, and efficient, and ensures that your beans will retain their nutrients and flavour.
3 – Use a Conventional Oven
Drying borlotti beans in a conventional oven is easy and only takes a few hours. Start by preheating your oven to its lowest setting, then spread the beans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Beans are best dried at a temperature starting at 50°C/ Gas Mark 0; any lower and drying will take too long, any higher and the beans may burn or lose their flavour. If your oven doesn’t go down to 50°C, it’s still possible to dry the beans, but it will take longer. Bake for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally until the beans are dry and crispy. Let the beans cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
Drying borlotti beans in an oven is a simple and effective way to extend their shelf life. By taking this extra step, you can enjoy these delicious beans year-round.
What are Borlotti Beans Used For?
The borlotti bean is widely used in Mexican cuisine, they are eaten fresh in risottos or crushed and pureed for creams to spread on bruschetta. Borlotti beans are also used in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet. They can be boiled or baked, then mashed into a puree or used as a component of a dish. For example, they can be added to soup, chilli, salad, or casserole. Their sweet side can be explored by using them in desserts such as brownies or pies.
Drying borlotti beans is a great way to preserve the bounty from your garden, while also intensifying their flavour. There are several methods you can use, including sun drying and using a conventional oven. Personally, we like to use a dehydrator the same as we do with our herbs. No matter which method you choose, be sure to store your dried beans in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. This will help keep them fresh for up to six months.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Be sure to label the container with the date so you can keep track of when they were dried!”
“It’s important that you remove all of the moisture from the beans before you store them!”
“If you are in the UK, we recommend using a dehydrator, the Sun cannot be trusted and although ovens are sufficient, dehydrators will give you the best results!”
“Borlotti beans may dry more quickly, and this may vary depending on the temperature and humidity in your area. You may need to check periodically during the drying process to make sure that the beans aren’t becoming too hard or brittle!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do you need to dry borlotti beans?
By drying the beans, you reduce the amount of moisture present in the bean, which makes it less likely for bacteria or fungus to grow during storage.
When should you harvest borlotti beans?
The harvest lasts from July to October, for the early varieties it can begin at the end of June and the beginning of July. They are typically harvested when the pods have turned a deep red and the beans inside are firm and white. If you prefer to consume them green, pick the pods when they are still young and tender and before the seeds begin to form.
Can dried beans be soaked too long?
It’s possible to soak dried beans too long, but it’s more likely that you’ll under-soak them. Under soaking can cause the beans to take longer to cook, and they may also be less digestible.
Ideally, you should soak dried beans for at least 8 hours (or overnight), and no more than 24 hours. After soaking, rinse the beans and discard the soaking water. Then cook them in fresh water until they’re soft.
How much does a borlotti bean plant produce?
The harvest yield is 1-3 kg per square meter for fresh bean varieties and 2-3 kg for shelling pod varieties.
Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.