If you are looking for a high protein snack and have never tried lupini beans, you don’t know what you are missing. While grossly overpriced in their cured form, growing them and curing them yourself can take time. You have to start with a quality dry seed. Since there are several different types you will want to pick out which version you want. I prefer the basic Italian lupini but there are others to choose from. The plants grow nicely in almost any type of warm condition. When they start to flower and the beans are visibly mature you can pick them and dry them on a large screen. The dried beans should be stored in a humidity free environment to prevent mold.
So why can’t you just eat them when you harvest them? They are bitter; extremely bitter. Drying them then rehydrating them when needed is a critical part of the process. This year I got about ten pounds of dried lupini beans from eight plants; that is more than the average amount so I was lucky. The drying process took about six days on large screens but you have to make sure that birds and other critters can’t get to them. Even though they are bitter in taste, it won’t stop them from stealing them.
There are a lot of different takes on how to cure them; I prefer to boil one or two pounds for about fifteen minutes then allow it to cool completely before changing the water. Make sure you have a pot large enough to accommodate the beans as they will swell when you are boiling them. From this point forward you should not touch the water or the beans with your bare hands because of the risk of contamination. Once the beans and water have been cooled you need to dump them in a large strainer and rinse them. Put them back in the pot and fill it with clean cold water. Put a lid on the pot to keep it clean and change the water at least three to four times a day. I make it a habit of changing the water when ever I see there is a modest amount of bubbles floating; this is the bitterness coming out of the beans.
You are going to have some beans that split open, lose their skins or have blemishes. Use a metal or plastic scooper to remove them when you spot them while changing the water. It can take four to six days for the bitterness to leave the beans so this isn’t something that you can do in a day. You will need to taste the beans after the fourth day to see how they are progressing. If they still have a rough taste to them then they are not done curing. When they are done you need to transfer them to glass jars or containers and fill them with fresh water and a small amount of salt. The salt added to the water will keep the skins from breaking down and getting slimy.
The alternative to growing your own lupini beans is to buy them in a dehydrated form. They are about three dollars a pound at most stores that sell them but please keep in mind, there are going to be some that are not going to be edible because of split skins or blemishes. If you are buying them dehydrated there is always a chance that you are going to get old beans that just taste horrible even after they are cured. If that happens start shopping around for another store to purchase them. Considering the price of a pound of dehydrated lupini beans compared to the ones that are already cured, you are looking at a huge price difference. The cured ready-to-eat lupini beans that are sold in stores can be as much as five dollars for an eight ounce jar.
What are the benefits of lupini beans? They are high in protein and something that you can make yourself. Even if you opt to buy the dehydrated beans and cure them you are saving a tremendous amount of money over buying the jarred versions at specialty stores. While it is impossible to get an accurate nutritional value on ones that you grow and cure at home (because of the size of them) the basic take on them is thirty calories per quarter cup, three grams of protein and three grams of carbohydrates. The carbs that you are getting are all dietary fiber so there is no sugar content to them. If you choose to add salt to them that will up the sodium content.
How do you eat them? There is a skin over the bean once they are cured. You eat them almost the same way you do a pumpkin seed. Crack the skin, pop out the bean and enjoy. These are something that I almost always have in the refrigerator for a late night snack and I have gotten more than a few of my friends hooked on them. While they do take a relatively long time to cure they are more than worth it if you like the flavor of them, want a high protein snack and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for the overpriced jarred versions in specialty stores.