Broad beans from La Granja - Saborea España

Broad beans from La Granja

These are one of the gems of Segovian gastronomy. This broad bean takes its name from the town of San ildefonso, situated in the shadow of the Guadarrama Range. There, farmers grow only the white variety, which is also known as the Spanish White Bean.

It’s called “judión” for it’s large size, but its tenderness and flavor will surprise you. It’s a high-quality food known for its tenderness after cooking, even if they’re eaten days after their preparation. Their origin is linked to the building of the Royal Palace of la Granja. King Felipe V bought properties held by the Jeronimo monks and began work in 1721 to renovate the structures for his summer palace. People came from all over Spain to work on the project.

According to lore, it was French gardeners who brought the broad bean with them – a bean with origins in the Americas. The objective: to adapt them to conditions in Europe and to use them as fodder for livestock. It is said that the broad bean is more than 2,000 years old. In Spain and Europe it was introduced in the Modern Age and for different purposes. One oral history recounts how the broad bean of La Granja began to be grown in the 18th Century when Queen Isabel of Farnesio, the wife of Felipe V with a taste for pheasant, had the bean brought from the Americas as feed for the birds. The palace gardens and greenhouses were planted with the beans which were harvested and fed to the pheasants and horses.

These gardens were eventually divided into parcels and given to palace servents to enhance their income and provide for seasonal foods. In their hands the beans evolved from a dark purple color lightening to the whitish hue they have today. From San Ildefonso where the majority of broad bean farms are located, the plantations have extended to the plains of Eresma and Pirón. At some point thereafter, it occurred to someone to try them and fro there they became a staple of people’s diets.

Currently the quality of the bean is protected by the Seal of the Broad Bean of La Granja. The seal extends from the growers to the sellers of the bean, ensuring its high quality in the marketplace.