The Legume Family -- All beans are members of the legume family; one of the world's
most important food groups. Their genus is Phaseolus. Most beans consist of a pod with a single section that holds
one row of seeds. Some varieties are cultivated more for their edible pod than for their seeds; others have tough, stringy
pods and are cultivated primarily for their seeds, which may be used either fresh or dried. There are hundreds of varieties
of fresh and dried beans. Those described here are among the most common.
USE -- Beans with edible pods are enjoyed as a salad and as a side dish. French cooks
serve tiny haricots verts both cold and hot -- cold, with vinaigrette or mayo; hot, with melted butter or olive oil.
Chinese cooks often stirfry beans with bits of seasoned minced pork or with oyster sauce. Italians add edible-podded beans
to vegetable soups or sauté them with pancetta (unsmoked bacon). Indian cooks braise green beans with coconut and spices.
Shell beans may also be eaten as a cold salad or a hot side dish. They add body and flavor to soups and stews.
AZUKI BEAN -- Also spelled adzuki, this small, red bean is available dried, packed
in plastic bags from Asian markets. Chinese and Japanese cooks use these soft, slightly sweet beans in steamed rice dishes.
Azuki beans are also boiled, mashed with shortening, and sweetened with sugar to make red bean paste, used by Asian cooks
in a variety of sweet dishes, from jellies and puddings to stuffed pastry. The paste is available canned in Asian markets.
Leftover bean paste will keep for months if refrigerated in a covered jar or plastic container.
BLACK BEAN -- Also known as turtle beans, black beans are highly important to the various
cuisines of Latin America and the Caribbean.
These small, jet-black beans come to market dried, packaged in plastic bags or sold in bulk. Use within one year of purchase.
Cooked black beans are also available canned in some parts of the country. They have an earthy, meaty flavor and a mealy texture.
Black beans are used in soups, stews, salads, and bean dips. They go well with pork, rice and greens.
BROAD BEANS or FAVA BEANS -- Also known as horse beans, fava beans have pods that range
from 4" to 18" long. When young and small, the whole pod may be eaten raw with oil and salt. More mature pods should be shelled;
the moist green beans inside have a tough skin that should be peeled. Fresh broad or fava beans are available in late spring
and early summer. Select heavy full pods that have good color and are without blemishes. To prepare, open pod and remove beans;
use thumbnail to split and remove skin on each bean. Dried fava beans are packaged in plastic bags or sold in bulk. Cooked
beans have an assertive, almost better flavor and a mealy texture.
Add broad or fava beans to soups and stews or enjoy
as a side dish dressed with butter or oil. Boiled favas may also be eaten cold or at room temperature as a salad dressed with
FLAGEOLET -- A popular French shell bean, the flageolet has an inedible green pod
about 3" long and small, light-green, kidney-shaped seeds. Fresh flageolets are occasionally available in the summer; look
for well-filled, pliable pods that contain even-sized beans and do not show evidence of drying. To prepare, pull on tip of
pod to split it open; remove beans. Dried flageolets are packaged in plastic bags or boxes or sold in bulk. Canned French
flageolets are available in specialty food markets.
Braised flageolets are the traditional French accompaniment to leg
of lamb. They may also be added to soups and stews or eaten cold as a salad with lemon and oil.
GREAT NORTHERN BEAN -- The Great Northern is a large white shell bean with a mild
flavor. Dried Great Northern beans are packaged in plastic bags or sold in bulk. Use within a year of purchase. Cooked are
also available in cans and jars. Use in soups, stews, baked bean dishes, and salads.
HARICOT VERT -- The haricot vert is an exceptionally slender, stringless green bean. Although
long popular in France, this sweet, tender bean has only recently been commercialized
in America. Now specialty markets generally have fresh haricots verts from
July through September. Choose firm pods, 1/8" or less in diameter, with solid green color. To prepare, remove stem ends.
Store beans in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper; use within one or two days of purchase. Steam briefly,
then sauté in butter or oil, and serve hot, or dress steamed beans with vinaigrette and serve at room temperature or chilled.
KIDNEY BEAN -- The kidney bean is the kidney shaped seed of a common shell bean. Both red and
white varieties exist, although the white kidney bean is more commonly called a cannellini bean. Dried red and white
kidney beans are packaged in plastic bags or sold in bulk; use within a year of purchase. Canned kidney beans are widely available.
The meaty flavor and mealy texture are appealing in soups, stews, chili, and salads.
LENTIL -- The flat, disklike sees of a leguminous plant, lentils are native to Asia Minor. Today lentils are marketed only dried, either packed in plastic bags or boxes or sold
in bulk. Lentils are available in several different colors, including yellow, pink, and greenish brown. Store all varieties
in a cool, dry place and use within a year.
Add lentils to soups and stews; boil until tender, drain, and dress with vinaigrette
for a cool salad; or boil until tender, drain, and reheat with oil, butter, or bacon fat for a side dish.
LIMA BEANS -- Also known as butter bean, the lima bean is a relatively large, kidney-shaped,
light-green bean in an inedible green pod. Limas are occasionally available fresh in summer; choose solid-green, pliable pods
without evidence of drying. To prepare, pull on string to open pod and remove beans. Limas are also available canned, frozen,
and dried; dried limas are packed in plastic bags or sold in bulk. Store fresh limas in a plastic bag in refrigerator crisper;
use quickly. Use dried limas within a year of purchase. Add limas to soups and stews; boil until tender, drain and dress with
butter or oil, and serve hot; or boil until tender, drain and dress with vinaigrette, and serve at room temperature or chilled
as a salad.
MUNG BEAN -- The small cylindrical seed of a leguminous plant, the mung bean is most commonly
green, but brown and black varieties exist. When shelled and split in half, the green mung bean yields a rectangular yellow
bean called the split golden gram or moong dal. Both mung beans and split golden gram are highly valued by Indian cooks
as a source of protein. Sprouted mung beans, an even finer source of protein, are used frequently in Asian cooking.
mung bean sprouts are widely available all year. Select firm white sprouts without brown areas. Refrigerate in a plastic bag
and use immediately. If not using right away, blanch bean sprouts in boiling water for 30 seconds, then transfer to ice water.
Refrigerate, covered with water, and change water daily. Blanched bean sprouts will stay fresh for 5 to 6 days. Mung bean
sprouts are also available canned; rinse under cold water before using. Dried mung beans are packaged in plastic bags or sold
in bulk. Use within a year of purchase.
Use whole mung beans in soups, stews, and pilafs. Mung bean sprouts add texture
to salads, stir-fries, and omelets. Mung bean starch is the basis for the transparent "cellophane" noodles used by Chinese
cooks. Indian cooks use mung bean flour for breads and sweets.
NAVY BEAN -- The navy bean is a small, oval, white bean so named because it has long been
a staple of the diet of the U.S.
Navy. Dried navy beans are packaged in plastic bags or sold in bulk. Use within a year of purchase. Navy beans are also widely
available canned; they are the variety used for most canned and home-cooked version of pork and beans or baked beans. Use
navy beans in soups, stews, and salads.
PINTO BEAN -- The pinto bean is the mottled oval seed of a common shell bean. Dried pinto
beans are sold in plastic bags or in bulk; use within a year of purchase. Canned pinto beans are also widely available. Pinto
beans appear in many southwestern and Mexican soups, stews, and chilis.
RUNNER BEAN -- Also known as the scarlet runner bean, the runner bean has a flat, broad, green
pod and small scarlet seeds. The edible blossom may be red or white. The runner bean is available fresh in summer and fall.
Choose firm pods that have solid color, do not show signs of drying, and have beans that are not too pronounced. Steam and
serve hot, with butter or oil, or cold with vinaigrette. Add to vegetable soups or mixed vegetable salads. To prepare, cut
along each side of bean to remove strings and ridges. Slice across pod on the diagonal between each seed.
SNAP BEAN -- Immature Phaseolus
vulgaris, at the stage when entire pod is edible, is called snap bean. Snap beans include the common green or string bean,
the Italian Romano bean, the yellow wax bean, and the purple podded bean. Snap beans are available fresh, frozen, and canned.
Some fresh varieties are available the year around, but the supply peaks in summer. Choose fresh snap beans that are firm,
with smooth pods, and do not show signs of browning or drying. To prepare for cooking, remove strings and brown tips. Snap
beans may be steamed, braised or sautéed, stir-fried, or pickled. Serve hot, with butter or oil, or cold as a salad. They
may be added to soups, or hot, mixed vegetable combinations.
SOYBEANS-- Fresh soybean pods are dark green with a soft outer fuzz; inside are two or four small oval beans. Soybeans can
be yellow, green, brown, black, or mottled. When cooked their texture is firm, their flavor mild.
Because of their high
protein content, soybeans are a valuable food source. They are made into a wide variety of products, from bean curd (tofu)
to soy milk to soy sauce to soy flour.
Shell and boil fresh soybeans as you would English peas, or substitute soybeans
for lima beans or fava beans in recipes that have a comparable flavor and texture. Dried soybeans can be sprouted for use
in salads, stir fries, and sandwiches, or boiled and served hot as a side dish. The salted black beans widely used in Chinese
cooking are soft black soybeans that have been cooked, inoculated with a mold, and brined for about six months. Salted black
beans are used to flavor steamed fish, pork ribs, clams, and many other dishes.
Fresh soybeans are available occasionally
in Japanese markets and specialty markets in summer and fall; dried soybeans can be bought in bulk at Asian markets and health
food stores. Salted black beans are sold in Chinese markets in cans or small bags usually labeled "salted black beans." Do
not confuse them with the uncooked variety, which is sold in similar packages. Choose firm, well filled soybean pods, without
brown edges or spots.
Dish with BEANS -- When
cooking beans with tomato products, cook the beans first. Upon adding tomatoes and SALT, the cooking process of the beans
slows down considerably and you could end up with undone beans.
Good-bye to Flatulence(GAS) De-gasing
Beans -- Can be done by adding a tablespoon of the spice 'Fennel' to the water that the beans are soaking in which
neutralizes the complex sugars. Never add salt because it toughens the beans.
When eating refried or black beans, the
trick is to eat the same amount of rice as you do beans. Always cook legumes at a rolling boil for 10 minutes before lowering
the heat to a simmer. This destroys the lectin toxin.
Peas and lentils need to boil only for 2 to 3 minutes to kill the
toxin. Adding 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water will keep the beans stable and not mushy.
To Prevent Boiling Over -- Add a
tablespoon of vegetable oil to the cooking water when cooking beans.
To Store BEANS Insect-Free -- A
dried HOT Pepper in the bean container will repel weevils and other insects.
Fixing 'Has-Beans' -- To remove RUST spots from YELLOW beans, cover them with a
solution of 2 cups white vinegar and 1 cup water. Leave to soak for 2 hours, then rinse and cook.
Cost Saver -- Canned Black
Beans may save time and be convenient, but cooking your own beans will save money. Canned beans cost more than double the
price of cooking dried black beans.
Better Re-Fried Beans!! -- Make
your own refried beans to reduce your food bill.
Fry 15 ounces of undrained canned pinto beans in 3 tablespoons of hot
bacon drippings or oil. Mash the beans with a wooden spoon.
Dried Peas -- When dried peas are placed in water, the good ones will sink to the bottom and
the bad ones will float to the top.