Botanical name: Vicia Faba
Origins and history
The broad bean as a food plant has been used by man in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern area since very remote times.
appearance and properties
The broad bean is grown for its grain consumed dry or fresh. Â Since ancient times and up to the last century, dried broad beans (they have a high protein content: dry matter 85%, nitrogenous substances 23-26%, ash 3%, fats 1.2%, crude fiber 7%, extractives in nitrogen 48%) cooked in various ways have constituted the main food protein base of many populations, especially those of southern Italy. In recent times, the consumption of dried seeds has been reduced, leaving room for the widespread use of fresh or preserved canned or frozen grains in human nutrition.
The broad bean germinates with acceptable readiness already with soil temperatures around 5°C even if the resistance of the broad bean to cold is limited; in fact temperatures of even 1 - 2 degrees can compromise the harvest.
Harvesting of the bean pods from the garden for fresh consumption is done by hand.
The immature seeds for canning and freezing are harvested with fixed or self-propelled ginning machines, when they have reached the right tenderometric level.
The collection of dry seeds is done when the plant is completely dry.
The harvesting period is mid-June in southern Italy, the end of June in central Italy, mid-July in northern Italy with spring sowing.
The idiosyncrasy of Pythagoras and his School for beans is very famous: not only did they take care not to eat them, but they carefully avoided any kind of contact with this plant. According to the legend, Pythagoras himself, fleeing from the henchmen of Cilone (Crotone), preferred to be caught and killed rather than to save himself through a field of beans.
According to a popular belief widespread in Italy, if one finds a bean pod containing seven seeds will have a period of great fortune.