Nuna Beans, also known as Peruvian Popping Beans
Get to know more about these unique beans. What is extraordinary? They are the bean counterpart of popcorn; when exposed to heat, they pop and burst out of their seed coats. Indigenous people of the Andean region have farmed this crop for thousands of years.
Nuna beans or Peruvian popping beans are legumes, a subspecies of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). There are numerous colourful varieties of these nutty-flavoured seeds. Although these beans are not well known by many, they have been the subject of multiple research studies lately. They have high nutritional value and the unique characteristic of popping or exploding when exposed to heat. The seeds’ popping expansion trait depends on a few genetic qualities such as shape, seed coat thickness and elasticity, starch content, among others.
The common bean originated in Mesoamerica1, over time migrated to South America where the indigenous people of the Andes, through domestication and selective breeding, developed the many Nuna bean varieties that became a staple food crop in their dietary practices and nourishment.
These heirloom beans2 contain high-quality protein, dietary fibre, minerals, vitamins, and assorted micronutrients such as polyphenols. They are naturally gluten-free, low in fat and free of saturated fat.
Nuna beans have been grown on the Andean mountains and valleys for thousands of years. Today, they are cultivated from Ecuador to Southern Peru on altitudes ranging from 1,900 to 2,900 meters above sea level. Nuna beans grow well between temperatures of 10°C to 25°C; however, in their environment, they can be exposed to frosts and drought that can severely affect their yield.
1 Mesoamerica is a historical region and cultural area in North America. It extends from approximately central Mexico through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and northern Costa Rica (Wikipedia).
2 Heirloom beans are grown from seeds that have been passed from one generation to another, carefully grown and preserved because they are considered valuable for distinctive traits.