I have already mentioned how impressed we have been with the Broad Bean variety ‘Stereo’ this year.
With a more compact habit yet even heavier crop than our usual longpod varieties, they did not even require any support – though perhaps that was luck this particular season. The beans are small, smooth and deliciously sweet, bred for thin tender skins which should never require peeling.
This weekend, we harvested and podded all our standing broad beans. We had sown an entire packet of Stereo beans in the spring, and from these plants we netted a yield of 2kg of shelled beans – not including the contents of the thirty-or-so pods that we have already picked and enjoyed, which would have been another few hundred grams in weight. It was interesting to do a quick calculation of the value of this homegrown harvest: shelled broad beans seem to retail for around £10 a kilo in our supermarkets. With the cost of a packet of seeds being between £1.75 – £2.50, giving a crop with a perceived value of well over £20, and minimal expense in raising them, there is a definite financial bonus to home-growing as well as the optimal freshness, taste, traceability and general satisfaction.
The majority of our crop we blanched, cooled and packed into the freezer to enjoy in the months ahead.
We also harvested our other broad bean plants, which were the remnants of pack of some Longpod-based variety – perhaps Giant Exhibition Longpod. We netted a further 800g of these, not pictured, and the difference in beans was quite startling. The longpod beans were larger, with far thicker, tougher skins than the Stereo beans.
Until this year, I had very much assumed that one broad bean was much the same as another; this year’s harvests have put paid to that idea and we shall certainly be growing Stereo again next year.