Ancient vegetables: Cannellino bean from San Ginese and Sant'Alessio

Ancient vegetables: Cannellino bean from San Ginese and Sant'Alessio

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Production area and history

Tuscany region
Production area: Piana di Lucca, mainly in the municipalities of Lucca and Capannori

The Cannellino di San Ginese and Sant’Alessio seems to be a cultivar imported from France in the early twentieth century; it was produced in the most fertile areas of Pianadi Lucca in medium-textured soils, tending to sandy.
Its perfect adaptability to the fertile environments of the Piana meant that it was the most used and appreciated bean in the area: on the one hand, the discrete productivity, the shortness of the cycle and the contemporary ripening, on the other, the unmistakable organoleptic characteristics - delicate flavor and absence of "peel" "- they allowed the producers to continue cultivation even in the face of a substantial increase in production costs on which the labor force is increasingly important.
The Cannellino di San Ginese and Sant’Alessio had great importance in local food as it lends itself to all uses, both for preparing soups, and consumed simply boiled and seasoned with oil. For its softness and delicacy on the palate, it has also been appreciated in the neighboring provinces. While in the past it was mainly intended for self-consumption, during the second world war it was used as a merchandise exchange with the products of the small towns (such as extra virgin olive oil) and, starting from the sixties, it also started to be marketed and distributed outside the province.
The opening of a fruit and vegetable market in Marlia, in the municipality of Capannori, represented the moment of maximum commercialization of this as of traditional or local other products; the Marlia market also served as a collection center from where the products of the area were "exported" to the neighboring markets, in particular, to those of Florence and Livorno. Since the closure of this market in the early 1990s, production has declined sharply, while the average age of producers has increased: production costs and, in particular, labor costs, have left the crop in the hands of pensioners or amateurs.
The most expensive cultural operation is the separation of the pods from the plant, a manual operation that takes a long time so that, for obvious this problem, some companies are moving towards the production of products, which is partially mechanized.

Cannellino di San Ginese and SantAlessio beans (photo


Plant with determined growth (50-60 cm) and contemporary maturation. It has tendentially light green leaves and sturdy stems that allow the plant to settle on the ground; the pod, initially green in color, when ripe presents a color that ranges from creamy white to light yellow and reaches a length of 12-13 cm and a width of 1 cm. The seed is 1-1.5 x 0.60.8 cm, it has an elliptical shape, slightly uniform and an opaque white color.

Cannellino di San Ginese and SantAlessio beans (photo Beans of Lucca Manual ARSIA)

Cultivation technique

The seed is reproduced directly on the farm by the producer; the portion of the plot from which the seed will be obtained is generally selected. A light plowing (25-30 cm) is carried out, followed by a harrow for the administration of the fertilizer; fertilization is generally carried out with organic-mineral organic products, using fertilizers with higher titre of phosphorus and potassium integrated with modest quantities of nitrogen fertilizers (about 50 nitrogen units, 70 of phosphorus and 70 of potassium).
The sowing takes place in the months of May-June with sixths of plant ranging from 5 cm in the row and 75 between the rows (fresh product) to 5 by 50 cm (dry product). Defense interventions are rarely carried out. Only emergency irrigations are carried out.
The harvest is done by hand for the fresh product, while it is mechanized for the dry product and runs from the month of July until late September, according to when it was sown.
The collection is selected in the company; the dry product is screened with the aid of a mechanical food belt.
Fresh product: the entire plant is harvested manually, once the pods have reached a good degree of bleaching (from green to white-cream); for the complete collection of a plot 2-3 steps are necessary; subsequently, in the premises of the company, the pods are separated from the residual gardens placed in perforated plastic boxes.
Dry product: the plants are mowed and left to dry in swaths, then the harvest is carried out with a suitably modified threshing machine which is able to separate the seed from the pods.
The product is then brought to the company where the selection takes place: in a first time it is screened by means of a mechanical vibrating screen; then it is placed in raffia type plastic bags and refrigerated for storage. The cooled product is selected a second time with the mechanical screen and then manually turned on a bench equipped with a mechanical food belt.


The production depends a lot on the seasonal trend and on average it is about 40-50 quintals per hectare for the fresh product, while for the dry product it is always less than 10 quintals per hectare.
500 to 600 quintals per year of fresh product and 50 to 60 quintals per year of dry product are produced.

Use in the kitchen

It is recommended to accompany it with aromatic herbs (thyme, pepolino, chives, etc.) or carnibianche (poultry, fish, etc.). It can be tasted in purity (boiled in water), as a side dish, associating it with fresh vegetables, ranging from tomato to onion from Lucca. Excellent as a puree to combine vegetables in sauces to season fresh pasta, for example, Puree of cannellini beans and sautéed with spelled noodles.
Boiled it can be seasoned with very intense fruity oils, with various shades of green and with quite strong spicy amaroe tones.
These dishes could be accompanied by a bright and lively wine such as the Soave.

From The beans of Lucca Manual ARSIA
Presentation sheets of local varieties of beans
Marco Del Pistoia, Mario Macchia, Mauro Quarta, Marco Baldanzi, Lucia Ceccarini

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