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Borlotti Beans & Freezers

We dropped down to the plot for a few carrots, leeks and borlotti beans to go into a stew so I thought I’d photograph the construction on the onion bed. (see this months photographs) I’d spent most of the day at the computer and there comes a point where you just need to focus your eyes on something further away than a screen and breathe some fresh air, so I didn’t take much persuading when Val suggested a walk around to the allotment.

This year has been my best ever for borlotti beans. Unlike runners or French beans you really need a long season for these and I got them started and in the ground early this year. Luckily there were no late frosts, which is unusual as often we get one to kill my beans at the end of May.

We didn’t spend too long but we filled a carrier bag with beans without really trying. There’s loads more left on the plant, which we’ll probably get at the weekend. They can be dried but it’s a bit of a fuss and we’re both really busy, so we’ll just freeze them.

If you’ve not grown borlotti beans, do give them a try next year. They’re really substantial and add body to stew or a soup.

Talking of freezing and freezers, I’ve been carrying out some research on power consumption and costs. As I’ve mentioned, we have 3 freezers and a fridge freezer, so I wanted to see how much they are costing. Well we did have a panic. The first freezer to get put under the spotlight is the small chest freezer. It’s quite new, although we bought it second-hand, so I expected it to be efficient.

The meter tells me all sorts of things I don’t want to know, like the voltage and frequency of the power supply but after only half an hour I had puzzled out how to put the cost of our electricity into it. So, when we examined it today it told me I had used £2.74 worth of electricity.

This equated, roughly, to £300 a year to run the freezer. After some discussion, we decided the meter must be wrong – that’s over half our total annual electricity bill. Back to the instruction manual, which is as clear as mud. Much button pressing later (it’s actually simple when you figure it) I discovered it was actually costing about £33 a year to run the freezer, 2.74Kwh over 84 hours.

I’m now comparing the other freezers and soon we will know what it costs us to keep frozen food in total.

Picture Below: Val harvesting borlotti beans. Notice the magnificent globe artichokes in front of the beans.

Borlotti Beans

Borlotti Beans

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
11 comments on “Borlotti Beans & Freezers
  1. Rampant_Weasel says:

    john are any of your freezers the frost free type?
    i ask as im interested to know how much more they cost to run than an ordinary freezer.
    also, can u tell me the name of the gadget ur using to tell u the cost?


  2. John says:

    Now come on Rampant, you can use capitals and write in English if you try. This is not a mobile phone 🙂

    My preliminary results would indicate the A rated frost free upright uses over double the power of the chest freezer, which stores more. Seems a bit too high so retesting but definitely much higher than the chest freezer.

    The gadget is called a power meter and was about £7 from Aldi.

  3. Wendy Seaton says:

    Hi John

    I have been growing borlotti beans for the first time this year on my new allotment, and am thinking I need to get them all picked quickly before the frosts hit – which means either drying or freezing them. If I go for freezing do I need to blanch them first, or can I just bag and freeze them – the latter I hope! I can find very little information/guidance about growing and harvesting in my selection of gardening books – obviously need to buy more.

    Many thanks

  4. John says:

    I think you should probably blanch them but to be honest we don’t bother, just bag into portion sizes and freeze.

  5. Angela Horn says:

    Hiya – we’ve grown stripey Borlotti beans for two years running now, here in SE London, and despite me being a complete amateur and *not* ever watering or doing anything beyond minimal weeding, they have been wonderful. I grow them along with Blauhilde (purple) French beans and both seem to need zero maintenance. I just started them off in loo roll tubes to get a good long tap root, then planted out. They are on lovely soil (a very old compost heap which we just bulldozed into a bank) in a walled garden here in sunny SE London. I was really interested to read that you put the beans into soups because I’m looking for ways to use the mature beans now. Normally we harvest them as tender pods – even if the beans are 6″ or 8″ long, as long as they haven’t fattened up I just cut the pods into inch-long chunks and steam lightly for a couple of minutes, and they’re lovely – crunchy, nice flavour, tender, not stringy at all. However I didn’t keep on top of things and now (late October) loads of the pods have run to seed and I have tons of beautiful fat, stripey beans. I’ve tried boiling them quickly and having them with a bit of butter and salt and pepper but they taste really floury so if you have any more tips on what to do with them, please tell me. Thank you!

  6. lisa says:

    hi – I am about to plant some of these as I saw a great idea on using them. Fill a roasting pan full of roughly chopped tomatoes with garlic salt pepper and whatever other seasoning you want and slow roast for two hours – push through a sieve into saucepan and bring to the boil adding sugar to suit taste then add the beans and slowly bring to boil – I don’t like baked beans from a can personally but have got to try these as they look awesome

  7. Chris Johnson says:

    Hello John,
    I’m growing borlotti beans for the first time this year. Sorry, I may be as thick as a whale omelette, but do you eat the pods as well?

  8. Jools says:

    Have been looking at various sites regarding Dwarf Borlotti beans. This is my first year of growing some this year but like a lot of people are not sure how to deal with them. Do I leave them on the plant to go dry or can I pick them once they have the pronounced red colouring and then dry out in my greenhouse or can I freeze them straight from the pod with/without blanching???

  9. Carole Nuttall says:

    Hi John
    I’ve grown Borlotti beans for the first time this year, in a tub on my roof garden – not harvested them yet but they look fantastic and, as I’m an artist of sorts, when I’ve shelled the beans, I’m going to use the brilliantly coloured pods to make a collage and paint their exact shades – should produce something very interesting. Oh! and I am looking forward the eating the beans too!!

  10. Jane says:

    I picked my borlotti beans yesterday and inside they are pink/ creamy coloured. As it’s the first year of growing them have I left it too late to eat them? Most of the recipes I’ve seen tend to show them all creamy coloured!

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