"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Full of Beans Part 4 - Musings on Kabouli & Delinel

I promise to stop talking about beans after this post or at least until spring when I might actually have something of interest to say about them. The last two types of beans we grew this past summer were Kabouli Black Garbanzo and Delinel bush beans. They both performed well and were an excellent addition to the garden.

I've read that Kabouli beans were discovered in Kabul Afghanistan and have been cultivated for thousands of years, a true heirloom. Now Baker Creek, whom I bought my original seeds from, states in their 2008 catalogue (pdf) that "This unique heirloom variety was collected in Kabul, Afghanistan. The 2’ plants produce unusual dark purple beans (mine were definitely black). The purple color comes from a pigment called anthocyanine, which enables seeds to sprout in cool soil, making this variety good for short season areas. Perfect for hummus and other Middle Eastern dishes."

But...

FEDCO states in their catalogue that although garbanzo beans in general originally hailed from Afghanistan "Black Kabouli was developed at Washington State University to be tolerant of cold soils and light frosts. The 2' plants with ornamental purple flowers bear abundant two-seeded pods resembling beach peas with black medium-sized beans."

Hmm?


As legend has it this bean is supposed to attract thunderstorms when blooming so I suppose inconsistencies regarding whether it is anthocyanines or WSU that brings out their cold heartiness is of little importance when one has to worry about being struck by lightning. Regardless, we not only grew them because of their cold tolerant nature but the fact that they are so small we should be able to use our hand powered grain grinder to pulverize them, saving us lots of time on quesadilla night as powdered beans are much quicker to prepare. I have not tried this yet.


The Kabouli beans were as productive as can be expected from a bean that only produces two seeds per pod.


The Delinel bush beans were very vigorous, providing us with numerous fresh green beans throughout the summer months. We did not save any for dried beans or seed (I forgot) so I have no pictures of the of the little black beans that reside in the mature pods.


Thompson Morgan insists that I must never eat these beans raw because they may make you sick. I was not aware of this and did indeed eat many of them raw without consequence. I was not sure if that was supposed to apply to all green beans or just my Delinels.

In all seriousness, I have never heard of this raw bean issue before so I looked up some information regarding the potential toxicity of raw green beans and found that they supposedly contain "Prussic (hydrocyanic) acid," aka Cyanide, which is rendered safe by cooking. Apparently some people can become quite sick after eating raw beans or bean seeds and may suffer from declining blood pressure, vomiting, stomach ache, circulation problems, convulsions, or even heart palpitations. It appears that the susceptibility to these reactions is hereditary, much like "Favism" is in Fava beans. I knew about Favism.

This may indeed be true, I am just surprised that I have been oblivious to the possible toxicity of raw beans. How very interesting. Going forward I think I will continue to "push the envelope" and risk eating raw green beans as I have done since a child. Some people climb mountains and others sky dive, I on the other hand, being the adventurous spirit that I am, eat green beans...raw.:) Please tell me that I am not the only person that was unaware of this?

26 comments:

Jo said...

Oh my goodness! I eat them raw all the time!

I see that Thompson & Morgan do not put that warning on all of their bean varieties, only a few. I wonder why?

Your ehow link also says that peas contain cyanide. That's surprising, considering how many people eat raw pea pods.

Lots of people eat pickled green beans. I wonder if the cyanide is still active after pickling?

So many questions! Guess I'll have to do a bit of research too. Thanks for the info.

Silke said...

Dear Mr. H! What an interesting post - those dark beans are so interesting looking! I found out about the bean toxicity when I checked about eating lima beans raw. I guess I was looking for recipes and learned fast that we'd better cook them. I think the symptoms are fairly mild though.

Thanks so much for your comments on my blog. I am glad you like your scarves - they are certainly warm and it sounds like it's plenty cold in your part of the country! And I am glad that you keep visiting my blog and find it interesting. It's the same with your blog - you have taught me things I never knew and most of all, you conjure up memories of gardening and meals from my childhood!

Plus, I have a deep admiration for how you and Micki live and can't wait to learn even more next year!! :) Silke

Stefaneener said...

Hmmm aren't you a wild man? Those are beautiful garbanzos, no matter what their provenance. I take it lightning didn't actually strike?

Hey, you might end up a bean detective after all this. Then you can talk about them endlessly.

Ayak said...

Oh I don't think you should stop writing about beans Mr H. This is all so interesting.

Happy New Year!

Heiko said...

As you know, I am totally ignorant when it comes to toxicity even of toxins, obliviously eating all manner of mushrooms etc. Favism??? In Italy in spring you get raw fava beans served as a bar snack! All old wives tales if you ask me. Either that or I've become immune to toxins by continually exposing myself to them.

el said...

Oy. I consider it just another grocery store conspiracy: you know, folks who own grocery stores trying to scare us intrepid dirt-diggers. It is not working here.

Put those garbanzos on my list though! I never bothered with them with the whole two-beans-per-pod thing, that means it takes a while for dinner...but, well, yours are, uh, BLACK. Not something I can get in a grocery store!

miss m (InfG) said...

Oh, the Kabouli beans are just lovely !

Interesting post. I was completely unaware of the fact. I enjoy munching on raw green beans and peas too. (And no consequence here either, btw ... not yet anyway). I never would have suspected they could be "poisonous". Thx for the info !

Mr. H. said...

Jo - I'm glad to hear that I am not the only one that was unaware of this. I really would not worry to much about it as neither one of us has ever gotten sick. I'm certainly not going to stop eating raw peas, that's my favorite way to eat them. I tend to agree with El's comment.

Silke - They really are the neatest looking little bean, almost like a black pea. As far as lima beans go, I have eaten a raw lima bean before and thought it tasted terrible so I should be safe on that front. Thanks for your nice comments!

Stefaneener - Wild man...Yep, life's all about those dangerous risks.:) Lightning did not strike my bean patch as of yet but because we live on a hill next to a lake there there are lots of lightning strikes, we had two in our yard last spring. So anything that might, even if it is a tall tale, attract lightning does make me a bit nervous. I've never "bean" a detective, sounds like fun. I can see the headlines now - "World famous P.I. Mr.H uncovers the great Kabouli bean conspiracy in the depths of the Middle East.":)

Ayak - I've run out of beans to talk about until next year. The next time you are at the market perhaps you could inquire about the Black Kabouli beans (chickpeas) true origins. I did find some mention of them possibly originating in Turkey.:)

Heiko - I agree, and also eat raw fava beans on occasion. I think you are right and that a persons body adapts over time to these potential toxins. I mostly found it interesting that I had never heard about this and when I checked there was information everywhere. I will let you try out all the parasol mushrooms by yourself though.:)

El - I agree, and put it right up there with the great potato conspiracy. I have been using my own seed for years and miraculously still manage to get a nice crop of spuds.

You will like the beans, they are unique, mysterious, and quite possibly dangerous. There is also a lot of questions about their true origins.:) They are a very fun novelty bean.

Mr. H. said...

Miss M,

I feel better now that I know I am not alone in my lack of knowledge regarding bean toxicity.:) Seriously, I am not going to give the whole thing another thought. I think that most people are probably quite safe in eating beans and that perhaps there are a few people that will have a negative reaction to them. Thanks for visiting.

melissa said...

Eh. I've been eating raw green beans by the fistful since I was a kid. Never had a problem. :P I mean I guess it's good to know, kind of like the dangers of eating raw fish, but I'm not going to stop now!

It's me ...Mavis said...

First of all... I nearly threw myself against the wall when I saw the title "Beans part 4"... MORE BEANS??? :)

I had no idea I wasn't suppose to be eating raw beans either... how strange? Where do these people get their information? On another note... the seed pod is pretty cool looking...almost like opening a tiny little gift...

Ayak said...

Mr H...coincidentally I was having a conversation the other day with my friends who are staying with me at the moment about chickpeas, and their origins. I decided to search and came up with the following from Wikipedia:

"Desi is likely the earliest form since it closely resembles seeds found both on archaeological sites and the wild plant ancestor of domesticated chickpeas (Cicer reticulatum) which only grows in southeast Turkey, where it is believed to have originated. Desi chickpeas have a markedly higher fiber content than Kabulis and hence a very low glycemic index which may make them suitable for people with blood sugar problems. The desi type is used to make Chana Dal, which is a split chickpea with the skin removed."

LynnS said...

Hmmmm....We eat a great deal of raw green beans but not the Kabouli since I've not grown those before.

I'm wondering if there aren't some major chemical/nutritional differences between the young slender green pods and immature beans we eat raw versus the mature, fully plumped bean. Green beans DO contain Prussic Acid, but in the young pods, the beans are very small.

Would love to see if you can ferret out some more info on this bean, maybe through some of the online archival libraries an answer could be found.

Interesting post like all the other bean posts. I hope you can write a few more, too! Until I know otherwise, I'm gonna keep munching on freshly picked raw green beans when they're in season here.

Cheers!

Soilman said...

I've also read that raw beans make you ill... and have ignored the advice happily (and healthily) for years. I wonder if this is folk legend confusing eating actual beans (which CAN make you ill unless they're well cooked) with eating fresh bean pods?

Did you discover anything else about this? Interesting topic...

Mrs. Mac said...

I eat raw green beans too ... just about as many that end up in my gathering basket .. end up being snacked upon as I pick them. And I lived to tell about it ;)

Mr. H. said...

Melissa,

Now I have never eaten raw fish/sushi but have always wanted to try it and will have to do so one of these days. Keep eating those raw beans, I know I will.:)

Mr. H. said...

Mavis,

I know, it should have read "Part 4 - No More Beans." Please don't toss your self against the wall though, that will take place on its own when the raw bean convulsions kick in.:) Maybe the raw bean information is put out by the processed food industry?

Mr. H. said...

Ayak,

Thanks for the information, I knew that you would know something about this as you are in the heart of chickpea country.

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

You might have eaten Kabouli since as near as I can tell it is, or also is, really a sweet and savory Afghanistan dish often served with rice. I think that there is a difference in the chemical composition between a young bean and that of one with fully developed seeds and that it is quite safe to continue braving the raw green bean...

Mr. H. said...

Soilman,

You are probably right as actual beans are supposed to contain more of the potential toxicities.

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2385/

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

Another risk taker! I'm so glad to hear that I am not alone in this dangerous addiction to raw green beans.:)

GetSoiled said...

Ha! You adventurous you! I did not know about the potential toxic effect of some raw beans...perhaps yours through many many years of domestication lost those chemical compounds or they lessened? Possible...

And, please, do write more about beans! I ♥ beans!!!

Happy New Year!

Mr. H. said...

GetSoiled,

I will write more about beans but not until next summer. I'm glad you found these posts to be interesting. I see that you have done some posting yourself and am now off to be inspired by your photography.:)

GetSoiled said...

Inspired by my little blog? You clearly have started celebrating the New Year with some spirits Mr. H.! :D

Alison said...

I had no idea beans were potentially toxic. I'd never heard of Favism before, either. But I LOVE green beans, and I have all my life, so I'm not gonna start worrying now :)

Mr. H. said...

Alison,

Sounds like a very good plan, I have a feeling we would have both been sick by now if they were toxic to any degree worth worring about. If the deer can eat my potato and tomato leaves I should at the very least be able to withstand a few green beans.:)

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