Steirische Käferbohne (Styrian runner bean)
g.U. Steirische Käferbohne is the bi-coloured spotted or marbled variety of the botanical species Phaseolus coccineus L. (runner bean) adapted to the defined geographical area. It is sold as a dry bean or ready-to-eat. It is available as a fresh product only for a short period due to its limited shelf life.
Physical properties of the dry ‘Steirische Käferbohne’:
— weight of 1 000 pure seeds: minimum 1 200 g,
— seed form: broad, kidney-shaped,
— colours: bi-coloured (ranging from violet-black to brown-beige),
— distribution of the second colour: spotted or marbled.
The most widely used varieties fitting the above description are ‘Bonela’ and ‘Melange’, which have been recorded in the national and the European variety register. Both the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ seeds selected by the Styrian farmers themselves and new varieties are permitted, provided that they correspond to the above description of the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’. The ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ is of varying colour intensity and gradient, but the bean itself is easily recognisable on the basis of the spotted or marbled pattern. Single-colour beans and beans with a predominantly white colour are permitted within a low tolerance level of 5 % of the weight.
Minimum requirements for ready-to-sell dry beans:
A deviation in form and colour from the defined description is permitted up to 5 % by weight. The beans are soaked and cooked, or steamed or prepared in a similar manner. Thus the bean becomes much larger and heavier and its colour changes to a shade of brown. Adding liquids (e.g. water, vinegar, etc.) is normal and permitted. The addition of solids (e.g. salt, sugar, acidifiers or similar) for preservation or seasoning is also permitted. The dry product used for preparation must contain 100 % ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ beans and can contain broken beans up to a maximum of 10 % by weight.
100 g cooked Steirische Käferbohne beans have an average energy value of 396 kJ and contain approximately 7,08 g proteins, 0,77 g fat, 11,55 g carbohydrates and 6,35 g fibres. The average values of selected nutrients in the edible part of 100 g dried seeds are 17,59 g proteins, 1,68 g fat, 27,95 g carbohydrates, 34,4 g fibre. The energy value is 1 112 kJ. All values of the above nutrients are subject to natural fluctuations.
‘Steirische Käferbohne’ beans are marketed as a fresh product (in limited quantities), as dry beans and as a ready-to-eat product, and are labelled as ‘Steirische Käferbohne’. The designation ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ may be translated, provided that the German name also appears on the label.
Specificity of the geographical area:
The Illyrian climate and soils (light to average calcareous humus clay soils, very rich in minerals) of the area where the beans are grown, as well as the varieties used in the defined geographical area, are conducive to forming the visual characteristics, taste and yield rates of the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’.
The geographical location of the crop growing area in Styria is well suited to the successful production of the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’, as it has a similar climate to the areas in North Mexico and Guatemala (Central America) from which Phaseolus coccineus L. originates. The plant is able to thrive and produce beans of a notable size (in terms of weight of 1 000 pure seeds) thanks to a humid climate (10-20 days of high humidity) and high rainfall levels in the summer months when extreme weather conditions tend to abate, little wind and higher overall temperatures (high number of sunshine hours and temperatures above 20 °C during the height of summer), especially during the blooming period. For optimal growth, the bean requires markedly more humidity than garden beans, which it gets thanks to the high levels of rainfall in the defined geographical area. It is damaged by extreme drought. It is also sensitive to frost and in particular requires enough warmth and water in order to flourish, although its tolerance to cold and wet conditions is markedly higher than that of other beans.
In Austria, these ideal growing conditions are only to be found in the defined geographical area. The growers’ specialised know-how is an important factor in the development of the quality characteristics of the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’. Thanks to the regional growers’ knowledge and experience of the methods and principles of bean cultivation, as well as the progressive seed selection carried out in Styria (for which there is evidence dating back to the 19th century), the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ is particularly well adapted to the soils and the climate in the geographic area. The most widely used varieties for the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ are ‘Bonela’ and ‘Melange’. The farmers of the defined area still select their own seeds, as they have done since bean cultivation was first practised in Styria. From this selection, the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ developed over the centuries to be better adapted to the Styrian climate and acquired its distinctive, multicoloured spots and marbling, characteristic texture and taste.
The specialised expertise of the region’s growers is based on traditional rural and artisan know-how related to seed selection, variety maintenance, cultivation forms, the selection of the right support plants for the mix of crops (e.g. with maize), cultivation and harvesting methods, determining the right time for harvesting and the careful drying and specific processing of the harvest. This know-how has been refined over many generations and is a determining factor in the crop’s look, taste and yield rates.
Specificity of the product:
The ‘Steirische Käferbohne’, which is produced in the defined geographical area from specifically selected seeds of the Phaseolus coccineus L. species, is distinguishable from other beans by its particular colour and pattern (bi-coloured, ranging from violet-black to brown-beige, spotted or marbled) and its notable size (at least 1 200 g weight of 1 000 pure seeds). The beans are characterised by high water absorption, which makes them twice as large when cooked and ready to eat. It is similar in taste to chestnuts, i.e. tender and nutty. The texture is fine, creamy, melts in the mouth and is not mealy. A specificity of the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ is its use in both savoury and sweet dishes. 5.3.
Causal link between the geographical area and the quality or characteristics of the product:
The ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ is the result of a unique combination of natural circumstances (climate and soil) and the traditional know-how of the growers in the geographical area. It is characterised by its size, its distinctive bicoloured colouration and pattern, its non-mealy texture and its fine, creamy, nutty taste. It owes these characteristics to the climate and the soil conditions of the growing area as well as the well-preserved varieties that are selected and cultured in the defined geographical area. Through careful seed selection over several generations, Styrian farmers developed species of this special bean that are perfectly adapted to the geographical conditions of the defined area, which in turn directly affected the quality and the characteristics of the product, in terms of its size and shape, its colour intensity and variation, and its texture and taste.
The humus clay soils, which are rich in minerals and very chalky, allow the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ seeds to fully develop. The soil and climate conditions combine during the maturation process to influence the size of the beans and develop their fine taste, as well as boosting yield rates. This ongoing adaptation, i.e. selecting particular seeds, and variety maintenance allow for the correction of mutations and cross-breeding, which in combination with the soil characteristics and climate conditions of the defined geographical area produce the product’s characteristics. The growers’ knowledge of local conditions and know-how passed down the generations on the breeding of geographically adapted seeds, the best cultivation and harvesting methods and the correct time to harvest, mean the organoleptic characteristics of the product can optimally develop.
The status of the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ as a product typical of the region contributes to maintaining the rural fabric of the area. It has led to the emergence of different culinary dishes (Steirischer Käferbohnensalat (Styrian bean salad) being the best known) and it is characterised by its many possible uses in food preparation. The importance and reputation of the product are reflected in its deep rootedness and the Styrian people’s high level of awareness and identification with the ‘Steirische Käferbohne’ (diverse culinary uses, cultural events, use in design, etc.).