Guide to Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans

Borlotti beans shelled and unshelled

Borlotti beans, sometimes called Cranberry beans, are a type of colourful and pretty legume. They are easily recognisable thanks to their light pink and beige colour and bright pink speckles and spots all over them.

Originated in Columbia, the borlotti beans are very popular in the Mediterranean countries. They are effortless to cook and use. They are ideal for salads and perfect for cooked meals too. They are an important source of fibre so if you want a healthier diet, integrate more of these borlotti beans into your meals.

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What Are Borlotti Beans?

Barlotti beans is a variety of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) which originates from Columbia. It's also known as the cranberry bean, Roman bean, romano bean, saluggia bean, gadhra bean or rosecoco bean.

Borlotti beans are light pink and beige with crimson or dark pink splashes and streaks. Most of the borlotti bean are bred in Italy and have a thicker skin. They are primarily used in Mediterranean cuisine.

They look somewhat similar to pinto beans, but they are not the same. Borlotti beans are larger and the specks are bigger. Cooked beans lose a lot of their specks and their colour becomes even and darker. When you see them cooked it's easy to think they are similar to kidney beans, but they are not the same.

You'll very likely come across borlotti beans in Italy as they are a staple in the country's cuisine. You'll see them in salads and stews with olive oil and tomatoes. They are popular in Portugal too where they are turned into delicious stews with paprika, meats, tomatoes, and garlic. A delicious meal you have to try!

Beans are grown on every continent except Antarctica. Borlotti beans are usually sold dried and shelled. However, you can also find them unshelled at some farmer's markets. They look especially pretty as they shells are pinkish with those darker pink specks on them.

Borlotti beans raw shelled

How to Cook Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans come dried and shelled or as canned beans ready to be eaten or cooked with.

From Dried
Rinse 1 cup of dried borlotti beans and soak them in a large bowl of cold water for 8-12 hours. This reduces cooking time and helps make them more digestible. Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in a large pot and cover with fresh water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covering partially. Cook for 1 to 1.5 hours or until tender. Add salt towards the end of cooking.

From Fresh
Fresh borlotti beans don’t require soaking. Shell the beans from their pods. Place the shelled beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer. Cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Salt can be added during the last few minutes of cooking.

In a Pressure Cooker
For dried beans, soaking is optional but can reduce cooking time. Soak 1 cup of beans in water for 8-12 hours if desired, then drain. Place soaked (or unsoaked) beans in the pressure cooker. Add 4 cups of water for every 1 cup of dried beans. Do not fill the pressure cooker more than half full. Add a teaspoon of oil to prevent foaming. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure.

For soaked beans: Cook for 20-25 minutes.
For unsoaked beans: Cook for 30-35 minutes.

Allow the pressure to release naturally. This can take about 20 minutes. Check for doneness; beans should be tender but not mushy. Season with salt after cooking to avoid toughening the skins.

Cooked borlotti beans looking delicious

What Does It Taste Like?

Borlotti beans are creamy and rich, and they are a mixture of kidney beans with cannellini beans. Much like any other bean, they will be nutty and earthy with a little sweetness to them.

When cooked well, borlotti beans are creamy and buttery.

How to Cook With Borlotti Beans

There are so many recipes which can incorporate beans. For something quick and easy, use canned borlotti beans. Mix them in a salad with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

They are perfect in soups and stews too. Cook them in tomato paste for that rich creaminess you get in Mediterranean cuisine. Always cook them on medium low heat.

My favourite borlotti beans recipe is inspired by Greek cuisine. Mix the beans with a little garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Add fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, salt and pepper and fresh herbs of your choice. Then add some feta crumble to the mix and enjoy!

Don't forget to check out this delicious bean salad or our bean dip. Delicious!

Beautiful raw borlotti beans

Where to Buy Borlotti Beans

Borlotti beans are popular in Europe and can be found in most supermarkets. Just remember that you might find them under a different name, as mentioned above.

You'll find dried beans on the supermarket shelves or even to order online. If you wish to find them raw, ideally you'd get them from a farmers market. In some places in the world, you might not find them canned. However, in the UK, you can easily find them online.

Borlotti beans shelled and unshelled

How to store Borlotti Beans

If you purchase them dried, you can store them for a very long time, years, in an airtight container. Just keep them in a dark, cool place. Make sure to check on them occasionally to ensure no moisture penetrated the bags.

If you purchase them fresh, then make sure to eat them as quickly as possible. Ideally within a week or two.

Once cooked, like most beans, borlotti beans can be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to a week. But the faster you eat them, the better.

Love learning about beans? Learn how to cook mung beans and black beans.

What do you think?

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Your Comment


2 minutes? Only simmer for two minutes? That doesn’t seem long enough.

Cory Varga
Cory Varga - You Could Travel

Hey could you point me to the typo please?