In the past, the poljak bean was very popular in Herzegovina, in the area of Trebinje, and for centuries it was the foundation of the local people’s diet, so much so that it was considered the “meat of the poor.” It was traditionally cultivated in the area of Popovo Polje: the variety was well adapted to the area’s typical karst territory that was typically flooded for much of the year because it has a very short production cycle.
Beans are one of the rare plants that do not require irregation, but it is essential that the soil is well prepared during the spring. They are harvested in the month of August. It is interesting to know that this bean is grown near corn plants in a manner in which the corn stalks become a support for the beans in the place of more commonly used stakes.
The beans have an irregular shape, resembling crushed pebbles about one centimeter in diameter, and each bean has a different color. Recently, this bean has gained recognition for its properties of reducing cholesterol and high levels of blood sugar.
The beans must be dried, toasted and ground. The powder obtained is used to prepare a drink similar to coffee that the people of Trebinje offer to encourage good health.
Today, there are few farmers who still produce this ancient variety. The annual production is about 100-200 kg, which is normally consumed by local families or given as a gift to friends and relatives. The number of growers of this plant has decreased due to the low profitability of the bean. The poljack bean produces low yields and requires much manual labor, because the harvest is not mechanized. Furthermore, it can only be cultivated in the warm regions of Herzegovina with a Mediterranean climate and mild winters.
Photos — Archivio Slow Food