Guernsey Bean Jar Recipe

4th May 2022

Found in: Blog  -  

Waking up to the smell of Bean Jar slowly cooking away is a unique privilege to us in Guernsey. Despite being a small island, Guernsey is home to an abundance of local produce and a rich culture of cooking with local ingredients in family recipes. These recipes have been handed down the generations, but there was a time during our island’s history when produce wasn’t always been so accessible.

During the German Occupation of World War II, local produce and recipes were vital for our community’s survival. One such recipe, Potato Peel Pie was invented by islanders out of scarcity. It has more recently found global fame by featuring in the film, The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society released in 2018.

During these long 5 years of occupation, half of the population of Guernsey was evacuated to England with identity and ration cards issued to those who remained.

Although the recipe for Potato Peel Pie isn’t very popular on island nowadays, there is one recipe which has acquired national status by virtue of its heritage, Bean Jar or Enne Jarraïe d’Harïcaots in Guernésiais was made throughout the Occupation and still to this day.

With family recipes being passed down through generations, no two recipes are the same but this is partly due to the rationing during the Occupation and women making the most of what they had available to them for their families.

Right up until the end of the Occupation, crocks covered with brown paper, tied with string and the owner’s name written on a label, were very often carried in a bucket to a bakery to cook overnight, thus saving fuel for the island community.

Even if you are unable to join us to celebrate Liberation Day this year on the 9th May, you can celebrate with us in spirit by making Bean Jar wherever you are in the world!

The below Bean Jar recipe is taken from a book written by a dear family friend of Emma’s – Island Kitchen, a book of seasonal cookery from the Channel Islands by Marguerite Paul.

Bean Jar (Enne Jarraïe d’Harïcaots)

Serves 6

  •  500g/1lb of haricot beans
  • Piece of leg pork on the bone weighing about 750g/1.5lbs
  • Alternatively 1 pig’s trotter with some extra pork as there isn’t much meat on a trotter
  • 2 large onions
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

1. Soak the haricot beans in cold water overnight or for about 12 hours until they have swollen.

2. Rinse them and place in an earthenware bean jar or crock.

3. If you don’t have time or have forgotten to soak the beans, cover them in water and bring slowly to the boil. Leave to cool in the water for an hour.

4. Rinse and put in the bean jar.

5. Push the meat in amongst the beans. Add the quartered onions, bay leaves and pepper.

6. Cover and cook gently in a moderate oven for a least 5 hours, even overnight but make sure the oven isn’t too hot. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid. Nearing the end of cooking, season with salt.

Our island community will be celebrating our freedom on Monday but if you can’t make it over to celebrate with us this year, don’t worry as elements of the Liberation Day celebrations will be available to watch online, live throughout the day.

Full information about the day’s events can be found here.

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