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Guernsey bean jar is a traditional local dish with a long history that goes back many hundreds of years. It was still a part of everyday Guernsey life until the 1920s, but since then bean jar is normally only found on local menus over the winter months, or at local cultural events such as Le Viaer Marchi. Bean jar is a slow-cooked cassoulet style bean casserole, and was traditionally prepared by islanders at home in a ceramic pot that was then taken to the local bakery to be left in the still-warm oven to cook overnight (usually on a Sunday) before being collected in the morning and enjoyed for breakfast. Being a historic folk dish every family has their own recipe that has been passed down through generations, often orally or by demonstration rather than as written recipes, but as long as it contains beans (usually haricot), carrots, onions and a cheaper cut of bone-in meat (such as ham hock, pigs trotter or beef shin) and is cooked low and slow then it counts as Guernsey bean jar - the inclusion of the bone helps to produce a rich, thick gravy.
This Saturday, September 10th, the second annual Bean Jar Jamboree will be taking place at Fairfields in Castel from midday until sunset. A celebration of local food, drink, crafts and music centered around the hotly contested “Bean Jar Competition’. With so many families having their own closely guarded secret recipes, the competition to see whose bean jar will be declared the best on Guernsey and awarded a beautiful hand-made bean jar made by local potter Niall McCarthy will be taken very seriously. One of the judges with the great responsibility of tasting each of the entries and helping to select a final winner will be the Bella’s very own Luke Wheadon, and there will also be a Wheadon’s Gin stand where you can enjoy a Wheadon’s and Tonic.
If you aren’t visiting Guernsey this coming weekend but are interested in trying this traditional Guernsey dish, it will be appearing as part of the full cooked breakfast at the Bella Luce throughout the winter months, helping to set you up for a day out on our wonderful island.