Lupin or lupini beans are the yellow legume seeds of Lupinus genus plants, most commonly the Lupinus luteus or yellow lupin, and are a common food of the Mediterranean basin and Latin America. Today they are primarily eaten as a pickled snack food. They must be prepared correctly or there is a risk of lupin poisoning.
Lupini beans are commonly sold in a brine in jars (like olives and pickles) and can be eaten by making a small tear in the skin with one's teeth and "popping" the seed directly into one's mouth, but can also be eaten with the skin on. Highly skilled lupini eaters learn to fissure the skin by rubbing the bean between forefinger and thumb. In countries like Portugal, they are very popular in breweries as a snack while drinking beer.
History and distribution
Lupini were popular with the Romans, who spread their cultivation throughout the Roman Empire. Today, lupini are most commonly found in Mediterranean countries and their former colonies, especially in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Brazil, as well as Egypt (where it is part of Sham El Nessim holiday meals), Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Turkey, Chicago's Little Italy, and in New York City's Spanish Harlem, where it is popularly served with beer. In Portuguese lupini beans are known as tremoços, and in Spain and Argentina they are called altramuz (a name derived from Arabic الترمس al-tirmis). In Antalya Province, Turkey they are known as tirmis and in Konya Province, Turkey they are known as termiye.
Varieties of bean
The Andean lupin L. mutabilis, the Mediterranean Lupinus albus (white lupin), Lupinus angustifolius (blue lupin) and Lupinus hirsutus are only edible after soaking the seeds for some days in salted water.
Some lupins are referred to as sweet lupins because they contain smaller amounts of toxic alkaloids than the bitter lupin varieties. Newly bred variants of sweet lupins are grown extensively in Germany; they lack any bitter taste and require no soaking in salt solution. The seeds are used for different foods from vegan sausages to lupin-tofu or lupin flour. Given that lupin seeds have the full range of essential amino acids and that they, contrary to soy, can be grown in more temperate to cool climates, lupins are becoming increasingly recognized as a cash crop alternative to soy.
Three Mediterranean species of lupin (blue lupin, white lupin and yellow lupin) are widely cultivated for livestock and poultry feed. Both sweet and bitter lupins in feed can cause livestock poisoning. Lupin poisoning is a nervous syndrome caused by alkaloids in bitter lupins, similar to neurolathyrism. Mycotoxic lupinosis is a disease caused by lupin material that is infected with the fungus Diaporthe toxica; the fungus produces mycotoxins called phomopsins, which cause liver damage.
Lupins are currently under widespread cultivation in Australia, Europe, Russia, and the Americas as a green manure, livestock fodder and grazing plant, and high protein additive for animal and human foods. In Australia, the danger of cross-pollination of the wild bitter and cultivated sweet low-alkaloid variety is understood to be unacceptable when testing reveals the presence of one bitter bean per hundred sweet beans, and a wide quarantine zone is maintained around lupin-growing croplands to prevent wind-blown wild pollen from having a large influence on crop toxicity.
Lupin beans can be ground into a flour and this is widely used in parts of Europe and in Australia as an additive to wheat flour, enhancing the flavour and lending a rich, creamy colour to the resulting foods. However, lupin allergy is on the rise and may cause life-threatening anaphylaxis in sensitive individuals (). There is some cross-reactivity with peanut allergy, so nut allergy sufferers should exercise extreme caution with lupin-containing food. In the EU, lupin must be listed as an allergen in pre-packed foods where it has been used, but may still be hidden in over-the-counter products. This can be a significant problem for allergy sufferers since breads, pastries, pizzas, pasta, cakes and ice cream are all commonly sold over-the-counter, and all may contain lupin. Lupin has even been found in some tomato ketchup sauces. At present, no desensitization treatments are available, so avoidance is the only advice offered, alongside carrying an epi-pen and anti-histamine/anti-inflammatory medication.
- Lupinus luteus and Lupinus for Species and Genus information, and for other uses of the lupin bean.
- Lupin Poisoning
- Murcia & Hoyos ()
- Hedrick (1919): 387-388
- Azcoytia, Carlos: Historia de los altramuces. Un humilde aperitivo. [in Spanish]
- Williamson et al. (1994)
- http://lupins-bk.blogspot.com/2006/07/history-of-lupin-domestication.html[full citation needed]
- http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/TR3.pdf[full citation needed]
- https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2004/181/4/lupin-new-hidden-food-allergen[full citation needed]
- Hedrick, U.P. (ed.) (1919): Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World
- Murcia, José & Hoyos, Isabel (): Características y applicaciones de las plantas: ALTRAMUZ AZUL (Lupinus angustifolius) [in Spanish]. Retrieved 2007-10-09.
- Williamson, P.M.; Highet, A.S.; Gams, W.; Sivasithamparam, K.; Cowling, W.A. (1994). "Diaporthe toxica sp. nov., the cause of lupinosis in sheep". Mycological Research 98 (12): 1364. doi:10.1016/S0953-7562(09)81064-2.