Zolfini beans are another Ark of Taste Heirloom Italian bean from Tuscany. Historically grown in the Arezzo province, these small beans get their name from their sulphury yellow hue (zolfo is Italian for sulphur). Zolfini beans can handle longer cooking times and will still hold their shape and their buttery texture. These beans are from the fall 2022 harvest.
Zolfini beans are best when prepared with garlic, sage, and a big glug of good olive oil. Italian tradition is to cook these beans in a flask (see Fagioli nel fiasco), but we find it a bit easier to cook them in a big pot on the stove. They are perfect in Ribollita. Enjoy these beans with crusty bread and that glug of olive oil.
Zolfini beans have been used as a symbol of resistance to globalization and industrialization of the food system. We really appreciate this anecdote about these beans. “In 1999, Paolo De Castro, Italian minister of Agriculture, waved a small bag of Zolfini beans in front of the World Trade Organization bureaucrats in Seattle. He wanted to focus attention on a threatened and endangered legacy, culture and tradition. Those were legendary beans; those were Valdarno beans from an area starting in the foothills around La Penna, a little hamlet near Terranuova Bracciolini, going up to the summit of the Pratomagno Mountains. This tiny pulse bears a huge responsibility, thus becoming the flagship of the battle against the heartless products of the food corporations: the beans from La Penna versus plastic McDonald’s burgers.” Excerpt from Viaggio in Toscana: Alla scoperta dei prodotti tipici by Andrea Semplici. While we grow these beans in California, we do so on a small scale with the purpose to share heirloom beans with our community.
Learn more here about how we threshed these beans by bike!