They are members of the pea family. Lupini Beans are yellowish-brown in colour, with a small hole at one end.
Lupini Beans are used a good deal in salads, or they are cooked, chilled then salted as a snack. Lupini Beans are used as a snack in Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Portugal. In Portugal, as a snack they are called “tremocos.”
Lupini Beans have a slightly bitter taste, which comes from alkaloids in them. Traditionally, they were so bitter that only livestock ate them, but someone figured out a couple thousand years ago how to make them edible. The process to render them palatable is somewhat labourious, like olives, but fans say it’s worth the effort.
Less bitter strains, known as “Sweet Lupins,” were developed in the last half of the 1900s, but they still need soaking and a long cooking time to remove even the reduced bitter taste.
You can buy pickled, jarred Lupini Beans in brine. To eat the jarred ones, drain and discard the liquid. Serve in a bowl, pick up a bean, suck the bean flesh out of the skin and discard the skin.
Preparation methods vary, particularly in southern Italy where every village, not to mention every family, can have its own secret trick. Here’s a generic method to prepare Lupini Beans:
Rinse beans to clean them. Soak overnight. In unsalted water, bring to a boil, then simmer until they turn yellowish — about 1 hour. Let cool in the water, then drain into colander and rinse. Soak for 3 to 5 days in clean water. Change the water daily, or more frequently if you see a film developing on the surface on the water. Each time you change the water, pop the beans in a colander and rinse them as well. Start tasting after 3 days. If they are no longer bitter, then they are ready. When ready, either:
a) refrigerate them in a mixture of water, vinegar and salt; OR
b) refrigerate them in a mixture of water and salt.
Either way, refrigerate them in a clean (if not sterile) container that can be covered.
Let Lupini Beans marinate in the refrigerator for at least a day or two before you start to serve them.
Fava beans or lima beans
Many people report feelings of physical illness owing to lupini beans not being soaked the traditional way first.
Some people, particularly those with nut allergies, may be allergic to lupinis however they are prepared.
Per 100 g (2/3’s of a cup), cooked by boiling, unsalted:
Weight Watchers PointsPlus™ per 100 g / 2/3 cup cooked: 3 points.
Per 100 g (1/2 of a cup), raw, uncooked:
Nutrition facts source: Lupins, mature seeds, raw (16076). USDA. Accessed Nov 2015 at http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4814
1 cup dry = 3 cups, cooked