Portuguese Tremoços (Lupini Beans)

Tremoços small, flat, yellow waxy beans served in most bars and festivals in Portugal; they are an addictive salty snack. The lupini bean is a super food.  A source of protein that is second only to soy beans — 100g of lupini have approximately 17 g of protein in them and are fabulous snack for vegetarians.

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They can be eaten by biting a small tear in the skin with one’s teeth and “popping” the bean directly into your mouth, but can also be eaten with the skin on.  In countries like Portugal, “tremoços” are very popular in bars and the parties as a snack while drinking beer.

Portuguese Bolo do Caco bread from Madeira Island

Lupine cultivation is at least 2,000 years old and most likely began in Egypt or in the general Mediterranean region. Egyptians but expanded in geographic reach. At some point, the Romans realized that the seeds of some lupines could probably be eaten, and lupini beans entered the Mediterranean diet. Once they became a staple of the Roman diet. The Romans used the beans both for themselves and as feed for their animals. 

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The lupine plant, like other grain legumes (beans, peas, lentils, etc.) fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and produces seed high in protein. They have high levels of alkaloids (bitter tasting compounds) that make the seed unpalatable and sometimes toxic. Historically, lupine alkaloids have been removed from the seed by soaking them overnight, boiling, and then re-soaking for days as necessary. 

These plants have traditionally been grown as ornamentals in the garden, and because they are in the legume family, when they go to seed, they make pods filled with beans. Commonly, these beans come from white, Andean, blue, or yellow lupines. They come with a caution, however, as they contain bitter alkaloids which can be poisonous if the beans are not treated properly.

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