My husband and I traveled in Greece last year and enjoyed "giant beans" cooked with onions in a tomato sauce in several places. Anyone have any idea what kind of bean these might be? Pole limas? Fava's?
Given the location my guess would be favas.
There is a pole bean with very large seeds sold in Greece and Turkey called barbunia (aka barbunya). I am enclosing a link to an image of the bean.
Here is a link that might be useful:
Thanks, Rose Marie. They might be the ones, though they did seem more flattened in shape, like limas, but larger than any lima I'd ever encountered. Beans were about 1 1/4" x 3/4", cooked. Now I wonder if it's possible to get barbunia seeds in the US...
Here is another link to another kind of Greek bean. It looks rather similar to what you describe and you can grow your beans and eat them too!!
Here is a link that might be useful: Greek Giant White Beans
I am familiar with the "Gigantes" beans in the link above (although I was unaware that they were also called "Greek Giant"). "Hija" is another name for them. They are very large limas that require a long growing season... I was unsuccessful in my attempt to grow them here in Wisconsin, even when started early as transplants.
Thanks for the link, Rose Marie. I ordered some, and hope to grow out a few. Hopefully they weren't irradiated or otherwise abused in transit to the US! From zeedman's post, I gather I need to start them very early. Wish me luck!
I can't wait to hear how it goes with your experiment, Chrissane! Please let us know their habit (pole?) and productivity. I love eating them, and would love to grow them. I cook my big cannellini greek style, but it's just not the same. Best of luck, and keep us posted!
Just following up...
There was some question in my mind as to whether the "Greek Giant" would turn out to be a lima (as indicated by the photo), or a white-seeded runner bean. I have seen its other posted name ("Gigantes") used to describe both. Chrisanne, how did it do for you? Was it the bean you were searching for?
I found a reference on the web that says that it's a white seeded runner bean as you suggested zeedman.
a friend brought me some from spain for paella, and they're easy to find in alicante and valencia. i tried unsuccessfully to grow them this last summer, and it wasn't warm enough. in spain thy're called 'alubias', and when cooked they are the size of a sugar spoon and delicious!
if anyone has had luck i would love to hear how you did it!
There is a "Greek giant lima " that is sold as food as a dried bean . They cost around $4.00 per pound plus shipping . They are " fat not flat" and white . They take a long growing season .
Farmfreedom, you have mentioned that variety on several posts. Do you have seed yourself, or have you grown it? I have previously asked you to describe the seedling, to which you never responded.
If you are trying to generate interest in the variety, you have succeeded... so could you give us a little more info?
As I stated in response to one of your other posts, the "fat not flat" description of "Greek Giant" seems to describe a runner bean... and since other descriptions/photos online depict it as one, there is considerable room for doubt here. If you could describe the seedling, list your source mentioned above, or if you would be willing to do a swap, it would be greatly appreciated. I would like to positively identify the species.
Madremaria, the word "alubia" is a generic term for "dry bean" in Spanish and doesn't imply shape, colour or even genus so these seeds can be a bush/climbing bean, a runner bean or even a cow-pea.
Here is a link that might be useful: alubias
Being Greek i must say that we call these beans Fasolia Gigantes Plaki, which means Fasolia= Beans, Gigantes= Giants, Plaki= flat(although not really flat).
I dont know the name of the variety but the best greek giant beans come from the prespes region which is mountainous with an altitude of above 900 meters(we just call them by the area of cultivation "prespes giant beans").Another thing about the region is that there are bodies of water nearby(which is beneficial to the microclimate), the soils are slightly acid and very fertile and temperature never exceeds 32 degrees celcius during the hot summer months.
They do require a long growing season being planted at the beginning of april and they are harvested before the end of october.
I dont know the parent variety for these beans but i know that the variety is the product of about 90 years of cultivation and seed saving from local farmers. The seeds required for the next years cultivation are from the same fields so this is why this variety thrives only in certain areas here in greece, while their performance is mediocre in most of the other parts of the country.
I must also say that the plants are susceptible to spider mite infestation and it is quite difficult to thrive in other regions of greece. I have been unsuccessful twice to cultivate them in central greece.
From what i 've heard there are about 22000 acres in the area of prespes(only organic cultivation) and northern greece (mostly non organic) which are dedicated to the cultivation of giant "plaki" beans.
There is also a larger bean variety which is called elephant beans and is also cultivated to the same areas as above.
We use these beans mostly in the "Greek Giant beans recipe". All the other varieties are unsuitable for this recipe and i asure you that if the beans are not of good quality this largely affects the taste of the dish too!
I've tested the Greek Giant seeds and the way they sprout shows them to be a Runner Bean. The cotyledons stay in the ground and sprout with new leaves is raised up. (Vulgaris turns the seed halves into the first leaves and lifts them).
Here is a link that might be useful: Chiefio
Thank you, E.M. Smith, for that observation. It's good to finally put that question to rest.
Somas Greek Lima "Fassolia Gigantes" is a runner bean not a lima as the name suggests. We've been eating them as green beans, very tender and very nice flavor. Planted late I wasn't expecting to get any shellies or seed this year but did find one pod mature enough for shellies, only 2 beans in this one. A picture of the biggest bean, the second bean was an inch and three eights in length.
Sorry, that should read Samos not Somas.
In the very short summer of 2008 I planted four kinds of large white seed runners to see how they would do here.
Bianco di Spagna seed was sold as a common bean so it was planted June 15 due to very cold temperatures. It turned out to be a runner with truly huge seeds up to 1 3/4 inch long. Good quality thin skin shellies. Pods dried on the vines so it was easy to save seed.
Delucci Cannellini was planted 5/30. The shellies are good quality and about 1 1/4 inch long. Shellies are more plump than those of the other huge white runners. A few pods turned yellow but none dried on the vines.
Cannellini Gigante was also planted 5/30. The shellies are similar to Delucci Cannellini but more flat and I thought they were a bit more chewy. No pods dried on the vine but a few turned yellow so it is marginally possible to save seeds here.
Bond's Orcas Lima was planted 5/30 and it has flat thin skinned quality shellies about 1 1/8 inch long with a few up to 1 1/4 inches. Pods dry on the vine so it is easy to save seed.
Dick where did you buy the Bianco di Spagna?
Happyday I got them from Italian Seed and Tool before they were bought out by Gourmet Seed. They had small packets that were not treated. I also got a treated packet by mistake. Those were not planted but were treated as hazardous waste!
I notice that they still claim that they are P. vulgaris. - Dick