I have read that lupin beans are toxic... is this true?

Yes... and no.

Lupin beans are perfectly safe to consume after the alkaloids have been removed (more on this below). The production of Tarwi involves a debittering process where the grain is boiled and subsequently subjected to extensive leaching in water to remove the alkaloids. The process is cumbersome, but done with all the care so that you can take advantage of all the amazing nutritional benefits of this powerful bean.

A bit more on alkaloids: one key trait of lupins is the accumulation of anti-nutritional compounds in the grain, in the form of alkaloids, most of them belonging to the family of quinolizidine alkaloids (QAs) (Frick et al., 2017). These are notoriously bitter and toxic to both humans and farm animals, displaying both teratogenic and anti-cholinergic effects (Lourenço et al., 2002). 

Where does Tarwi come from?

The really interesting story is how we got there but starting with your question… Tarwi Beans are farmed by small producers in the north of Portugal, both as a source of income and a rotational crop to improve others, namely wine, wheat and a variety of vegetables. Given not a lot of people look for locally sourced lupin beans, the network was nurtured from the ground up (pun intended!) as the visibility on our demand gives farmers the confidence to produce more. The journey to these partners started with a lot of research that ultimately led to a Professor that is one of the leading lupin researchers in the world (true story!), who kindly opened his rolodex of lupin experts to us and set us on the road to the beans you know today.

Why is your protein content lower than the seed itself?

Lupin seeds have a whopping 42g of protein per 100g (that's impressive, we know). We don't want to bore you with details, but research has shown that cooking beans reduces their protein content. If you are in the mood for some bed time reading, you can find the research paper here.

Why do you add Lactic Acid to you Marinated Tarwi Beans?

Lupin beans are a traditional Southern European snack, consumed for centuries and they have always been sold preserved in brine. These products are usually in large glass or plastic containers that, let's be honest, are not convenient. As we wanted to bring Tarwi to everyone, we knew we had to adapt. Lactic Acid is what allows us to preserve all the Tarwi nutrients in pouch. Rest assure, as it is completely natural: Lactic Acid is an acid that naturally forms when certain foods go through the process of fermentation. It can be found in pickled vegetables, sourdough bread, beer, wine, sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented soy foods like soy sauce, miso... and now Tarwi Beans!

Does Tarwi contain allergens?

Like other protein containing foods (such as peanuts, or soybeans), lupin beans might trigger an allergic reaction. It has been shown that people who are allergic to peanuts may react to lupins as well - please be mindful if that is your case!

Why do you use single use packaging?

We had the same view when looking at the market and learned the hard way that it's more complicated than it seems. Our mission includes doing good for the planet, and the fact that our Tarwi Beans fix nitrogen to the soil and are used as crop rotations by our farmers, is a big part of what we love - but on the packaging we have struggled to find a perfect option to date.

Whilst we found compostable and bio-plastic options, this is not widely treated and often ends up contaminating the standard recycling process. Ultimately, with the current waste management infrastructure the best available solution was to use recyclable plastic and that's what we use. We trust you may find a better option faster than we do, and if that's the case please ping us on hello@tarwi.co.uk. If we end up using your solution, we promise a generous prize.

Who is behind Tarwi?

Tarwi was founded by Portuguese friends in love with food and conscious living with the ambition to change the way people perceive and consume healthy foods. Growing up close to lupin beans but never knowing they were this nutritious (it was just a tasty beer snack) - you can imagine how we felt when we found out about all their nutritional benefits. It was too good to keep it to ourselves and that's how Tarwi was born!

Where can I find Tarwi?

At the moment you can find us online: Our Tarwi Beans range can be purchased via the Shop page. Our Lummus range is not yet available online, but if you are keen on saying hi, have a taste, and grab yours come join us in one of the several London markets we have planned. Stay tuned to our social!

Our ambition is to make healthy nutritious food as accessible as possible and we are working hard to spread Tarwi nationwide to a shop close to you. Follow us or subscribe to be the first to know!