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Production area and history
Production area: Municipalities around Lake Trasimeno (province of Perugia).
Lake Trasimeno bean is a local variety of cowpea (Vigna unguiculata). The species is native to Africa, it was widespread in Italy already in Roman times (it is in fact the "phaseolus" repeatedly mentioned by Pliny the Elder) and it has been cultivated since time immemorial around Lake Trasimeno (Perugia), in the valley floor more humid, ideal for obtaining an excellent quality product.
The bean is grown for food (both seeds and fresh pods, called "croissants" are consumed) and was widespread in the post-war period, mainly in vegetable gardens: at the time it represented the main protein intake for the nutrition of local populations. Since the sixties, the bean has gradually disappeared until, in the nineties, it risked extinction, remaining confined in very few family gardens. Recently, thanks to the efforts of some farmers, of the Faculty of Agriculture of Perugia and of the Trasimeno-Medio Tevere Mountain Community, the cultivation of this legume has undergone a new, consistent boost, so much so that in August 2002 the Consorzio Fagiolina del Trasimeno was born , based in Castiglione del Lago (Perugia), which aims to protect and promote the product.
Bean from Lake Trasimeno
It is a bean with an oval and tiny shape and can be of various colors: from cream to black passing through salmon and all shades of brown, even mottled. In the mouth it is tender, buttery and particularly tasty.
The bean populations grown in the area of Lake Trasimeno belong to the subspecies unguiculata, unguiculata variety, and they also exhibit a certain variability (Pasquet, 19971). There are four types of seed:
- small, cream-white and without an eye, it is the most cultivated type (90%);
- white with the eye;
- colored with the eye;
- without the eye (moreover with different types of coloring that form a mixture).
It should also be noted the presence, although very limited today, of the cultivar-group sesquipedalis, characterized by very long pods (hence the common name of "bean from the meter").
Bean from Lake Trasimeno (photo http://lacucinaperprincipianti.blogspot.it)
The bean is a spring sowing crop (generally at the end of April) and needs limited irrigation. From tests conducted by the DBVBA in the years 2003 and 2004 it emerged that the crop takes advantage of drip irrigation systems and seeding with a double row. The only treatment the bean is subjected to is the administration of verdigris to prevent fungal diseases and make the leaves less attractive to insects (in the end). The cultivation system currently used requires a lot of manpower, both for pruning and for harvesting and beating. These last operations, in fact, due to the gradual maturation, are difficult to mechanize and continue from late July-early August to early October.
Maturation is scaled: the beans must be harvested every day for a couple of weeks. The seedlings are placed in the farmyard, dried and beaten with forks and sticks. Then, with the sieves the seeds are separated and they are stuffed.