The first time I bought these at the farmer’s market a few years ago, I asked the elderly vendor/farmer what they were called. “Horticulture beans”, he replied.
But what’s their real name? I asked, trying to get a more exact name, cause they looked a lot liked the Borlotti beans I had read about.
Again, he replied, “Horticulture beans.”
I was stumped. I searched the internet, but at the time, came up with nothing.
This weekend, I again searched, and found a lot.
Indeed, what he is calling a Horticulture beans is also known as a French Horticulture bean, or a Cranberry bean due to it’s pinky/red streaks, or the Italian favorite – the Borlotti Bean. Exactly what are Horticulture Beans?
There are many guestimations online, but the answer depends on the color. They are a large bean, white with red or brown speckles. The ones I get at the farmer’s market every fall/winter are withe and pink/red speckled, and most closely resemble the Italian Borlotti or cranberry Bean.
The shells are beautiful, inviting you to try them. The beans are gorgeous as you shell them, mesmerizing even. Most are speckled, some are nearly sold purple, some are nearly solid white, and every now and then there will be an underripe green one. All good. When cooked, they will lose some of their color, but taste amazing.
How to cook them?
They need very little. A search for borlotti and cranberry beans yields a ton of options.
I shelled mine and sealed them in two sealable bags for later cooking, and threw them in the freezer. I believe that they’re supposed to be blanched first, but we’ll see.. With this latest cold front, I’m thinking of what to do with them….
Note: These are also sold dried. If cooking them from a dried state, they will benefit from an overnight soak.