On the Island of Öland, situated in the south of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, the cultivation of brown beans, or “bruna bönor”, can be traced back to about 1650. Carl Von Linné considered the climate on the island of Öland to be adequate to grow these beans in 1741. The sunny summers – with an average temperature of 17°C -, the mild autumns and winters, and the fine sandy soil are particularly suited to growing brown beans. It is said that the beans’ best quality is attained if they are grown on sandy soil because it is warmer than clay and does not retain as much water in the autumn. The first evidence of brown beans from Öland is in 1885 when a small rural shop in Böda (northern Öland) sold the beans for a price of 0.35SEK per kg. There are records found in the local county Agricultural Society journal of 1897 and 1906 and ever since the brown beans have been continuously grown on the island.
The sowing takes place in May and the harvest starts in September. The beans are planted in rows, using the right spacing of 50 centimeters. The plants are also grown on hills to avoid contact between the pods and the soil. Today, four different cultivars are grown: Stella I, Bonita, Katja and Karin. The beans first dry in the field for a couple of days and then they are stored and ready to be packed.
Traditionally, the brown beans are used in the preparation of a typical Swedish stew. The beans are soaked for 8-10 hours and then cooked with onions and sugar. The sweet-sour stew is served with fried bacon.
Island of Öland, Sweden
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