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White bean

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Cannellini beans

The small, white navy bean, also called pea bean, haricot bean or white bean, is particularly popular in Britain and the US, featured in such dishes as baked beans and, oddly enough, pies, as well as in various soups such as the famous Senate bean soup.

Contents

Navy bean varieties include:

  • Great northern beans
  • Rainy River
  • Robust
  • Michelite
  • Sanilac

Other white beans are Cannellini beans, a popular variety in Central and Southern Italy.

Coco de Paimpol

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Coco de Paimpol

The Coco de Paimpol is an AOP semi-dry haricot bean for shelling presented in pods. The pods are pale yellow mottled with purple, the seed is ovoid and uniformly white and the seed coat is very thin. Cooking is particularly rapid and gives a tender product which melts in the mouth and has a characteristic flowery and nutty flavour.

Haricot beans which qualify for the registered designation of origin ‘Coco de Paimpol' are grown in 85 communes in the north of the départment of Côtes d'Armor in Brittany. The geographical area covered corresponds to the coastal part of the former Breton provinces of Trégor and Goelo. This coastal area, because of its geology, is suitable for vegetable growing and market gardening. It is composed of rocks still covered by a formation of particularly well structured loamy soils which are good for growing beans in. The small temperature range in this region enables the beans plants to mature slowly and well, which is necessary in order to obtain a high quality product. In addition, the maximum summer temperature means that the pods are well matured and have an excellent appearance. The Coco de Paimpol owes it fame also to the skill of its growers, who have preserved the traditional cultivation techniques, in particular manual harvesting.

Cultivation of this bean is part of the long established horticultural tradition of the Paimpol region. It was confined to gardens until 1939. From 1939-45 the coco, because of its nutritional qualities, helped to make up for food shortages. After 1948 marketing was organised on a commercial scale. The beans were first marketed dry and then semi-dry, which turned out to be more profitable. Semi-dry beans are softer, cook more rapidly and are easier to digest. The quality of the product is widely recognised and the Paimpol region today accounts for most of French production of semi-dry coco beans for shelling. Beans entitled to the registered designation of origin ‘Coco de Paimpol' are produced and packed within the geographical area defined for that designation.

The seed used belongs to the species Phaseolus vulgaris L. Sowing is in rows. Harvesting extends from July to November. Harvesting and sorting the pods are done manually after the plants have been uprooted. Only pods which have reached the semi-dry stage are selected and defective pods and impurities are discarded. From when they are packaged until they are dispatched, Cocos de Paimpol are kept in packaging which prevents the beans from heating or from drying out, using the cold moist storage technique.

Reference: The European Commission

How to cook white beans in a pressure cooker

Use this basic guide if you do not have a specific recipe

  • Pick through the beans and discard any discoloured beans or loose skins
  • Soak in cold water for a minimum of the time shown, soaking overnight is usually the best way to achieve this
  • Change soaking water a few times if possible
  • Never cook the beans in the water they were soaked in
  • Rinse the beans well at the end of the soaking period
  • Ensure the pressure cooker is at least a quarter full
  • Never fill the pressure cooker more than half full
  • Always cover the beans with at least 5 cm (2") water
  • Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the water - this reduces foaming
  • Allow the pressure cooker to get to the required pressure and then begin timing
  • Use the specified pressure release method - this is the natural method in the case of dried beans or pulses
  • A bean is usually perfectly cooked when it can be easily squashed between your forefinger and thumb
  • If the beans are not sufficiently cooked, return to pressure, cook for another 3 minutes and allow the pressure to reduce using the natural method.
    Re-check that the beans are cooked to your liking.
BEAN VARIETY COLD WATER SOAK TIME
minimum period
PRESSURE COOKING TIME COOKING PRESSURE
High = 15 psi
Medium = 10 psi
Low = 5 psi
PRESSURE RELEASE METHOD
White or cannellini beans 4 hours 12 minutes High Natural

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