We ate lupini beans around the holidays when I was growing up. I always thought of lupini beans as an Italian food, but lupini beans are popular in Mediterranean, European, Middle Eastern, and South American cultures.
Depending on where we lived in the country, lupini beans could be hard to find. Lupinis are readily available in the northeast but not so easy to find here in the south until the last few years. I pick up a jar when I find them, and when they are affordable (prepared lupinis can be expensive depending on where you buy them). Now that dried lupini beans are becoming popular here, we can make them at home. The process is a bit lengthy. Preparing dried lupini can take longer than a week, but it is well worth the wait. We no longer wait for the holidays to enjoy lupini beans. We snack on them all the time.
There are a number of websites that provide instructions on preparing lupini beans. Each offers a different approach. Some pre-boil the beans after the first overnight soaking. Others soak the beans until the toxins are gone, then boil them and add the salt last. Others use the water bath canning method to keep lupini beans. I bought several bags of dried lupini beans, and I tried several methods before coming up with my method. The instructions below work the best, I think.
Lupini bean facts
- Lupini beans, or lupin, are the yellow beans of the lupinus genus plant.
- They belong to the pea family.
- Lupini beans are second to soy beans in protein.
- Lupini beans are high in fiber.
- Unprepared lupini beans contain potentially harmful bitter alkaloids that can poison you.
- Lupini beans are considered an ancient food. It is believed that the edible lupini bean was first enjoyed by the Greeks. Lupini beans were cultivated by the ancient Romans and were considered food of the poor. Ancient Egyptians also consumed lupini beans.
- Lupini beans are consumed today, mostly in Mediterranean, European, Middle Eastern, and South American cultures.
- In the United States, lupini beans are typically sold prepared in a salty brine.
Things you should know before you get started
Consult the guidelines below before you get started. This will help make sure that the lupini beans are safe to eat and properly stored.
- Depending on preference, lupinis can be pre-boiled before or after the soaking and brining process or not at all (see Step 1). I like the beans to be a little firm, so I don’t cook them if I plan to eat them right away. (The beans can be eaten immediately after the brining process is complete.)
- Canning salt should be used in the brine instead of table salt. Table salt leaves a white milky sediment in the jars (see Step 2).
- Soak the lupinis in glass, aluminum, cast iron, or any material that will not absorb toxins. Do not use a plastic colander or container to rinse and soak the beans. Plastics will absorb the toxins and can be released into the contents of the colander or container when it is used again.
- Rinse the lupinis and soak in fresh brine at least twice a day (see Step 2). Brine also helps keep bacteria from developing. Refrigerate the beans.
- Canning is the only safe method for storing lupini beans. Lupinis are hot-packed in preparation for canning (see Step 3).
What you need to get started
To make four quarts of lupini beans in brine, you will need the following ingredients:
To properly prepare two pounds of beans, you will need the following equipment:
- metal colander
- 8-quart metal or glass sauce pot
- 4 quart wide mouth mason jars
- dissolvable labels and a permanent marker
- home canning utensil set (jar funnel, jar lifter, lid lifter, bubble remover and head space tool)
- secure grip jar lifter and handler
How to prepare lupini beans
Step 1: Soak the lupini beans overnight
Pour the dried lupini beans in a large metal colander. Pick through the beans with your fingers and discard discolored, shriveled, or partly shelled beans. Dried beans are usually picked over before they are packaged, so you probably won’t find a large number of defective beans. You will also notice that the beans are pale or white and have a small opening on one end. Rinse the beans thoroughly with cool tap water. In an 8-quart stock pot, add beans and cover with four quarts of cool tap water. Soak beans overnight or for 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse well. The lupini beans are reconstituted—they are yellow and the clear pliable outer casing is noticeable. Clean the pot and lid with warm soapy water to remove any toxins that might remain.
Step 2: Remove toxins from the lupini beans
IMPORTANT: Lupini beans are naturally toxic. The beans contain bitter alkaloids and require an extensive soaking and brining process to remove the toxins. This is the most important step in preparing lupini beans. Any toxins that remain in the lupini beans will make you sick. You may notice an odor during the soaking process. This odor is caused by the toxins. It will eventually fade away as the toxins are released from the beans.
Add the beans back to the clean stock pot and fill with four quarts of cool tap water. To prepare the brine, add one tablespoon of canning and pickling salt per quart of water (4 tablespoons) to the lupini beans. Cover, and refrigerate the lupini beans overnight. Drain and rinse the lupini beans twice a day. While the lupini beans are draining, clean the pot and lid with warm soapy water. Add the lupini beans back to the stock pot with fresh brine. Repeat this step until the bitterness is gone.
NOTE: It generally takes about 7-9 days to remove all of the bitter alkaloids from the beans, that is, if the beans are rinsed and put in fresh brine twice a day. If you nibble (don’t swallow) on a lupini bean around day 3 or 4, you will notice that the beans are a little tender and extremely bitter. The bitterness decreases substantially around day 5. Continue the soaking, rinsing, and brining process until all bitterness is gone. You can decrease the number of days that it takes to complete this process by draining, rinsing, and brining the beans two or more times per day. It will still take a good 5-9 days to safely remove the toxins.
Step 3: Process the lupini beans
Once all of the toxins have been removed and there is no longer a taste of bitterness, drain and rinse the beans again. The lupini beans can now be eaten or used in a recipe. Lupini beans will last several weeks in the refrigerator if not preserved for longer storage. To eat lupini beans, pop the bean out of the casing through the small opening. The casing is also edible, but it’s overly chewy.
To store the lupini beans in Mason jars, you will need to use food preserving methods. I use 4 quart wide mouth Mason jars to can lupini beans. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and keep hot until ready to use. Put beans in a large stock pot; cover with cool water by 2 inches. Bring lupini beans to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Pack hot lupini beans into hot Mason jars using a jar funnel, leaving about 1-inch head space. Add one tablespoon of canning and pickling salt to each quart jar. Ladle hot cooking liquid over beans, leaving 1-inch head space. Remove air bubbles using bubble remover and head space tool. Adjust lids and rings. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for the use and care of a canner. When beans have been safely removed from the canner, and are cool enough to handle, write the date on dissolvable labels and press labels on jars. Processed lupini beans should be good for about one year. Store in a cool, dry place.
Lupini beans are second only to soy beans in protein. Nutritional information for this lupini bean recipe is as follows:
Serving size: 41 g; Services per recipe: 22; Calories: 160; Fat: 3g; Saturated fat: 0g; Trans fat: 0g; Carbohydrates: 9g; Sugar 2g; Sodium: 460mg; Fiber 6g; Protein: 14g; Cholesterol: 0mg.
Sources for buying lupini beans
These beans should be readily available locally in specialty Mediterranean markets. If not, you can also buy them nuts.com. The Gourmet Store sells a 10-pound bag of dried lupini beans. Amazon sells many brands of dried lupini beans.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link and buy the product, I will receive a very small commission of the sales price at no cost to you.
This article was revised on January 12, 2017.