The Fagiolo Cuneo PGI refers to pods in the waxy stage ready for shelling and dried seeds belonging to the Phaseolus vulgaris L. and Phaseolus coccineus species, deriving from the ecotypes Bianco di Bagnasco and Vedetta, of the Billò, Corona, Stregonta, Bingo, Rossano, Barbarossa, Solista and Millenium varieties.
The production area of Fagiolo Cuneo PGI is within the territory of all the municipalities in the Province of Cuneo, in the Piedmont region.
The seeds are planted between April and July. Cultivation is labour-intensive and the plants are sustained through a traditional method that is unique to the Cuneo area: four bean poles are fastened together at the top to form a kind of “tepee” and these frames are then linked together by a horizontal cord, in order to create a more solid framework that is resistant to the weather and weight of the plants. The harvest takes place between May and November. The Vedetta ecotype or the Stregonta, Bingo, Rossano, Solista, Millenium or Barbarossa varieties must be used for the production of the pods at the waxy stage for shelling, while the Bianco di Bagnasco ecotype of the Billò or Corona varieties, harvested when the plant is completely withered, are used for the dried beans.
Appearance and Flavour
Fagiolo Cuneo PGI pods at the waxy stage are intensely streaked with red, while the seed inside must be a creamy colour with pinkish-red streaks. The bright colour is due to the daily thermal excursions associated to the elevated levels of light, which favour anthocyanin synthesis. The Billò variety dried seed must be a creamy colour with brownish-purple streaks, whereas the Corona and Bianco di Bagnasco varieties are white. The seed is very fleshy and has a thin and delicate skin.
The sale of Cuneo beans dates back to the XIX century, as demonstrated by several market lists found in the Town Hall of Centallo. A regulation sanctioned in 1894 by Cuneo Town Council, reveals the existence of an ad hoc market for the sale of these beans, which for their distinctive characteristics, already cost more than the common bean. Over the last fifty years this production has continuously developed, so much so, that it is traditionally sold in specifically established markets. The now famous Sagra di S. Sereno is proof of the importance of Fagiolo Cuneo PGI for the area, and it still takes place each year in the San Rocco Castagnaretta district of Cuneo.
Fagiolo Cuneo PGI is best kept in a cool, dry place. It is an excellent ingredient for minestrone soups and goes well with garlic, lard, leeks, potatoes and chilli pepper, as demonstrated by typical recipes like "Minestra di fagioli piemontese" and Dried Fagioli Cuneo PGI with leeks. Due to its high iron content it can be used as an alternative to pasta and bread. The dried seed should be soaked in water for at least 12 hours before cooking, whereas the fresh pod can be cooked immediately after being shelled. Cooking times are relative, but usually an hour is enough.
Both the dried seed and the waxy pod of the Fagiolo Cuneo PGI have an excellent consistency. The seed is also particularly rich in iron and protein, while the strong colour of the waxy bean is due to the daily thermal excursions which, together with the elevated light, encourages the synthesis of anthocyanin.