The Juliska bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), or Juliska bab in Hungarian (Juliska is the diminutive of “Julie”, while bab is Hungarian for “bean”), is a disease-resistant, productive variety with a wide range of culinary applications. Its flat, non-stringy pods are pale yellow and about 20 centimeters long. The elliptical or kidney-shaped beans are coffee brown with a black cicatrix (the point where the bean attaches to the inside of the pod). Juliska bean plants should be trellised, as they reach a height of about 2 meters. Harvest takes place in July and August, and the beans can be eaten fresh, or dried for long-term storage. The pods can be cut into pieces and boiled with vegetables and herbs, or seasoned with vinegar, salt, and sugar, and added to salad. Alternatively, the fresh beans can be removed from the pods and made into a soup, seasoned with smoked ham and thickened with flour. Dried beans are soaked overnight and then used in soups and stews.
Prior to the mid-20th century, the Juliska bean was widely grown in the Great Hungarian Plain, which occupies the southeastern half of the country. During the communist period, in an effort to increase efficiency and productivity, the State took control of the agricultural sector. Farmers were forced to give up control of their land and join large-scale collectives. Because the Juliska bean was not suited for mechanization, its cultivation was largely abandoned. Today this variety is slowly making a comeback in home gardens, and seeds are available in local garden shops and from a limited number of online suppliers. However, due to the volume and popularity of imported varieties, it is still difficult to find Juliska beans for sale in markets.