Jan 20, 2012

Scarlet Runner Bean for a New Specialty of Semboku City!

The Semboku City government has been trying out a new produce that is fairly uncommon in Japan! It is a type of beans called Scarlet Runner Beans, which is referred to as Hanamame (花豆) or Benibana Ingen (ベニバナインゲン)in Japanese.

In Japan, the species has been mainly cultivated for the viewing of beautiful scarlet flowers, so that it was fairly uncommon to cultivate for the edible beans. Today, the beans have been cultivated in a few regions of northern Japan such as Hokkaido, Tohoku, and Nagano Prefecture, where the cool climate is suitable for the cultivation.

Semboku City chose Hanamame for the recent project for the following reasons:

- Beans are good source of protein containing Polifenol and low in calories; therefore, it could be appeal to the trend of health-conscientious consumers.

- Beans can be processed as dried or powder and prepared in various ways as in meals or sweets, so that they can be a yearly production to develop in the industry.

- According to a survey report, the tourists are in search of “special sweets” that reflects the originality of regional culture.
The project has been carried out by groups of 8 different organizations like farmers, tourism organizations, and commercial unions, and alike. They thoroughly engaged in every step from cultivation to processing in the first year production.

Hanamame (Scarlet Runner Beans, left bottom) have been cooked in some baked goods:
A baked doughnut and a cup cake with sweet potato.
A pastry shop in Kakunodate Town took a part in the processing step: They have come up with a few delicious sweets ideas for the trial. To conduct a survey for the new products, they were distributed to tourists at JR Tazawako Station a few weeks ago. The unique bean was used for the main ingredient in all the baked goods – simmered in syrup, mixed as powder, etc.

Welcoming event held at JR Tazawako Station a few weeks ago.
We gave away presents and served sake, pickled vegetables, dried squid,  etc.

For the unique feature – as big as a thumb and the purple color with dark stripes – the beans have been catching much attention from the tourists and local people! We are sure that Hanamame will be our new “meibutsu,” a local specialty, of Semboku City!

For more information on Hanamame of Semboku City, contact Semboku City Government (TEL 0187-43-2243).

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