Alubia de La Bãneza-León
IGP Alubia de La Bãneza-Leónare are the dried and separated seeds of the pod of the garden bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L., subspecies Papilionaceae, a grain legume for human consumption) of the local varieties Canela, Plancheta, Riñón menudo and Pinta.
The properties of the seeds of these varieties, which are clearly distinct, are as follows:
Morphological properties of the dried product:
- The Canela variety is elongated and kidney-shaped, with a uniform cinnamon colour and a hundred seeds weigh between 50 and 62 grams.
- The Plancheta variety is oval and white and a hundred seeds weigh between 44 and 52 grams.
- The Pinta variety is round and cinnamon in colour with deep red mottling and a hundred seeds weigh between 51 and 67 grams.
- The Riñón menudo is oval/kidney-shaped and streaky white in colour and a hundred seeds weigh between 41 and 57 grams.
- Canela variety: when cooked, the beans maintain their integrity extremely well. They have a smooth, soft skin and very soft, slightly buttery albumen, with little graininess and a moderate degree of mealiness.
- Plancheta variety: when cooked, the beans maintain their integrity well. They have a smooth, very soft skin and very soft, very buttery albumen, with little graininess and a slight mealiness.
- Pinta variety: when cooked, the beans maintain their integrity relatively well. They have a smooth, soft skin and soft, buttery albumen, with very little graininess and a moderate degree of mealiness.
- Riñón menudo variety: when cooked, the beans maintain their integrity relatively well. They have a very smooth and moderately hard skin and soft, moderately buttery albumen, with very little graininess and a moderate degree of mealiness.
The dried beans fall within the ‘Extra’ commercial category, as set out in the Order of 16 November 1983 approving quality standards for certain dried pulses or the standards replacing them, and are packed in polyethylene, cloth or paper and can be stored under normal environmental conditions.
The agricultural production area of 5 456 square kilometres covers 98 municipalities in the agricultural districts of Astorga, El Páramo, Esla-Campos, La Bañeza, La Cabrera and Tierras de León in the Province of Leon, and 20 municipalities in the District of Benavente-Los Valles in the Province of Zamora, bordering on these.
Proof of origin
The Regulatory Board is responsible for monitoring and checking that the production, storage, packing and quality of the beans are in accordance with the specification. The beans are grown on parcels within the agricultural production area entered in the register of parcels kept by the Regulatory Board. The beans are handled exclusively in the stores and packing plants entered on the relevant registers kept by the Regulatory Board. The parcels, stores and packing plants must undergo an initial evaluation before they are entered in the registers of the Regulatory Board and then evaluations at regular intervals to maintain that registration. Consignments of pulses between registered growers, stores and packing plants must be accompanied by shipping documents issued by the Regulatory Board. Only beans that have passed all the checks can be released to the market bearing the label of the Regulatory Board attesting to their origin. The number of secondary labels issued by the Regulatory Board to packing and processing plants is based on the quantities of beans received and the capacity of the packaging.
Method of production
On the parcels of land: the parcels are irrigated land or very fresh dry land. The beans rotate with other crops every two years as a maximum. The seeds are from plants free of halo blight and are treated against dried bean beetle, all under the control of the Regulatory Board. Sowing is carried out in the spring, with a maximum density of 190 000 plants per hectare. The beans are harvested in August, September or October, once the seed has reached physiological maturity.
In the stores: the beans may be stored either by the growers or by other operators, but they must avoid mixing beans from different lots, which must be physically separated. Stores must comply with the applicable technical health regulations.
In packing plants: the beans are subject to quality checks on the raw material, they are then divided into uniform lots, washed, treated against dry bean beetle, sifted and graded and defective seeds are removed. They are then packed using dosers, given a final quality check and labelled, including with the identifying secondary label issued by the Regulatory Board.
As early as 1570 Alubias de La Bañeza were being sold in the famous markets of Medina del Campo, brought there exclusively by the district’s farmers. The Catastro de Ensenada (land registry) of 1752 reports that a market was held in La Bañeza every Saturday throughout the year and mentions garden beans as one of the products sold.
The Geographical statistical and historical dictionary of Spain and its overseas possessions (1846-1850) by Pascual Madoz describes garden bean growing in the Province of León based on a census of 1799: ‘the Province produces 2 102 fanegas (126 120 kg) of garden beans, valued at 63 060 reales’. It also gives figures for consumption in the city of Leon over the five-year period from 1835 to 1839. Garden beans are consumed in greater quality than any other pulse (0,21 fanegas/12,6 kg per inhabitant per year), followed by chickpeas (0,09 fanegas/5,4 kg) and chickling vetch (0,03 fanegas/1,8 kg).
The General Yearbook of Spain of 1912 by Bailly-Baillière, in addition to citing garden beans as one of the main crops of several municipalities in the rural district of La Bañeza, contains an advertisement: ‘Ceferino Martín — La Bañeza — Cereals, Pulses, Wool, Tow, Potatoes and graded, gold medal Garden Beans’. The Province of Leon (General Guide) of 1928 by José Mourille López, describing the area of Bañeza, states that the region is famous for its garden beans, which it exports in large quantities.
The product’s reputation today is proven, among other things, by its inclusion in various official catalogues of quality foodstuffs, such as the Spanish Inventory of Traditional Products, published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in 1996 and funded by the European Commission.
On the Internet, a search on Google gives almost 300 hits, basically on sites dedicated to gastronomy and tourism and on Wikipedia, etc. The product’s social importance can be seen from the fact that there is a garden bean museum in La Bañeza and a Bañeza-León Garden Bean Gastronomic Association, chaired by the current President of the Court of Auditors. On the market, the bean’s reputation and value in the eyes of consumers are shown by the considerably higher price it commands compared with other, non-protected garden beans.
The properties of La Bañeza-León garden beans are linked to the area’s climate and soil and to the use of plant material suited to the area’s environment.
Climate: temperatures and humidity levels differ substantially from those in the area to the east and humidity levels from those in the areas to the north and west. Average rainfall during the bean’s growing period is sufficient for the proper development of the plant, since it is grown on irrigated land or very fresh dry land. The moderate humidity levels generally protect against the development of fungal diseases, provided that the crop and, in particular, irrigation are managed correctly.
Soils: soils in the area are mainly loose-textured or loose-textured to sandy, with a moderate clay content, pH neutral or acidic, rich in organic material and with a very low carbonate content. On the whole, these soils give the beans high water absorption, a low ash content and better organoleptic properties after cooking, principally a smoother skin and a more mealy albumen with little graininess.
Plant material: the cultivation of these varieties of garden bean consistently over the years has meant the beans have undergone selection, exercised by agroclimatic conditions in the production area and by growers, who always select the highest quality and most uniform beans from the best parcels to sow for the next harvest.
Using experience passed down over several generations, growers can identify the parcels that are most suitable for growing garden beans and know how to adapt their cultivation practices to produce garden beans of the highest quality.
Reference: The European Commission