Madeira Maroon & Kew Blue – A Correction!

The Climbing French Beans have loved the recent rain we’ve had, bushing out and yomping up their canes. Yesterday, when weeding (polish that halo!), something caught the corner of my eye – beans ready for picking.

They were hiding under the leaves, beautiful dark purple and mottled pods, long and straight, winking away at me. A few minutes later and I was able to identify them as the Madeira Maroon beans I picked up at the Brighton Seedy Sunday swap. So I don’t know their origin and trying to research their provenance and history on the web is proving difficult. Only a few seed catalogues stock them, other than that they seem to get the odd mention by fellow gardeners and seed savers.

Beans and Herbs describe them as vigorous, with pale pink flowers, and suggest eating the freshly shelled beans or leaving to dry on the pods for a baking bean. Well I was in too much of a rush of excitement to heed that suggestion. So we ate a few last night, barely cooked, positively al dente. And the verdict? a delicious big beany taste.

The only other source of information I’ve been able to track down is from Innvista ~ “Madeira/Madera bean is a oval, flat, mottled, brown bean and the
largest member in the Cranberry family. This bean originated in South America
and was taken to Portugal, where it was adopted for national dishes. It was then
taken to the US by Portuguese and Italian immigrants. This bean has a floury
texture and a chestnut-like flavour. ”

And now I’ve got over my first of the year, french climbing beans, I’ll let some of them fatten up on the vines, and try out the suggestion of using them freshly shelled. The search for the perfect recipe starts here.


These are not Madeira Maroon – they are KEW BLUE BEANS. The jumble of beans that I planted was very jumbled in my mind and my rough notes.

Madeira Maroon look like this

as imature beans they have pale green pods, which when they start to dry trun a white colour. the beans are a dark red/maroon colour, with a slight white speckle.

Memo to self – sort your labels and planting plans out next year so you are not anywhere near as confused!

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