Various Beans – Part 1
Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning ‘the ancient ones’, and refers to the Anasazi cliff dwelling Indians who lived in the “Four Corners” area, of what is now the meeting point of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, about 130 CE. The Indians of the American Southwest and Mexico still grow and treasure these beans, generally believed to be the descendants of the Jacob’s cattle bean, which they closely resemble. However, the anasazi beans are slightly smaller, more plump, and without the freckles. Instead, they are burgundy and white mottled beans with a sweet flavour and meaty texture, making them a very good baking bean. They are also a close relative of the Appaloosa bean (see below). The anasazi bean was originally found in the ruins of cliff dwellers by settlers in the early 1900s and are now registered to, and are grown exclusively by, the Adobe Milling Company of Dove Creek, Colorado. Grown at a high altitude of about 7,000 feet, Anasazi beans supposedly contain 75% less of the gas-causing carbohydrates that are found in pinto beans.
are red and white and resemble the markings of the pony by the same name. They can be used interchangeably with pink, red, or pinto beans, as well as with the Anasazi bean, of which they are sometimes erroneously called. Also called the red appaloosas, these slender, oval beans are good for baking as they hold their shape well and have a rich flavour. They also make a good substitution for black-eyed peas and in some chili dishes.
Asian beans (Vigna unguiculata, formerly sinensis)
include a group of very small, slightly oblong beans with a prominent small eye. China is probably the original home of the red adzuki bean, although it was introduced into Japan about 1,500 years ago. They are eaten whole with their skins, although in India, they are sold already shelled in the form of dal. The major varieties of these mung-type beans are the green mung, black mung (gram), and red bean or azuki.
from Tuscany, are also called Tuscan beans. Normally found in their dried form, borlotti beans are plump and round in shape, having a pinkish-tan background speckled and streaked with crimson. They are similar to the cranberry bean and can be intrchanged with them. In Italy, members of this family of small, kidney-shaped speckled beans are sought out in their specific regions of cultivation They include the varieties lamon, stregoni, scritti, and saluggia. All of them share a meaty flavour and mild earthiness. Borlotti beans are used either fresh or dried. The small ones soften during cooking and taste bitter-sweet. The large ones are used in many Italian dishes, and an indispensable ingredient in minestrone.
Black Appaloosa beans
are also called cave beans, so named because they were supposedly found in the desert soil near cave dwellings in the southwest US. They have striking black and white markings, with a distinctively flat and angular shape. Because of their visual appeal, they are well-suited for salads and baked bean dishes, as they hold their shape and colour well after being cooked.
Black beans, frijoles negros, turtle beans, Spanish or Mexican black beans, lablab
are of medium size, and slightly squarish in shape. They are a matte black or a very deep purple, with a small white line on the ridge; but the inside is creamy white. The flavour has a hint of mushrooms and are favoured throughout Latin America, South and Central America, and the Caribbean, where they originally grew as New World beans. They are the basis for Brazil’s weekly traditional dish called feijoada and the Cuban black bean soup. All black beans are considered to be closely related to the kidney bean, and turn purplish when cooked.
Black gram urad, urid/urad, dal/dhal, mung bean (Vigna mungo)
is the most important member of this family of beans in India. They are classified as two varieties: early ripening that have large black seeds, and later-ripening which have smaller, olive green seeds. The black gram is a member of the same family as the mung bean and indigenous to Africa, Asia, and the West Indies. They should not be mistaken for pigeon peas or red grams, which are of similar size and shape. These beans are small, oval, and black-skinned, with a pale yellow or whitish interior. Their texture is glutinous. They are also used as a seasoning in South India, where beans are thrown into hot oil to give them a red colour and nutty flavour. Black gram beans need a long time to cook and can be hard to digest for some people. In the split form, with the skins removed and only the white interior remaining, it is called a “split white lentil”, which is easier to digest. This is the form that is also milled into flour, while the unhulled black gram (urid dhal) is most often available dried.
Black or Blue Shackamaxon beans
are an old variety of pole bean that was preserved among Quaker farmers of southeastern Pennsylvania and south New Jersey and said to be of Lenape Indian origin. It is named after a place called Shackamaxon along the Delaware River, now the city of Philadelphia. This bean has never been grown commercially. A seedsman from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, had preserved them. When freshly shelled, the seeds are a bright navy blue and as they dry, turn a purplish blue.
are garden beans of plump cross-section with a fairly large number of seeds.
are from a western heirloom variety grown by Native Americans throughout the Southwest. The Spanish who settled in northern New Mexico cultivated and developed them. They are a rich-tasting bean with more depth and flavour than its close relative, the pinto bean, and can be used interchangeably for other beans in most dishes.
Brown lazy wife beans
are also known as ‘lentil beans’ among the Pennsylvania Dutch. They are small brown beans named for how quickly they cook rather than from some potentially interesting story. They are commonly grown in the hills of western Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio, where they may have originated. They are also a popular soup bean in Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy. It is believed that these beans were taken from Pennsylvania to Switzerland almost 300 years ago, where they were often combined with lentils, leading to its other nickname.
Steuben yellow eye beans
are an absolutely beautiful hybrids of the white bean. Round, plump, and half white and half black with a black polka dot for emphasis, these beans are a novelty with the perfect Chinese yin and yang harmony imprinted on its surface. This variety is at least 400 years old and has acquired numerous names along the way including Maine yellow eye and butterscotch calypso. It is supposed that this was the original bean used in the infamous recipe of Boston baked beans. It has a velvety texture, a mellow flavour, plumps up well during cooking, but turns to an ivory brown after cooking. Another variety of calypso bean is popular in Europe. It has streaked black and white markings. (see also Haricots)
Cannellini beans, white kidney beans, haricots blancs, fasolia, fagioli
are white, oval, and kidney-shaped, with a tough seed coat and a smooth texture. They were originally cultivated in South America; but they are usually associated with, and extremely popular in, central Italy, Greece, and France. As members of the haricot bean family, the cannellini bean was the first to be cultivated in Argentina and then commercially grown in Italy. Although larger than the haricot bean, their creamy smooth, but firm, texture and mild, nutty flavour makes them extremely versatile. Also known as white kidney beans and haricots blancs in France, they need to be cooked slowly to keep their shape. They are often found canned.
Castor beans (Ricinus communis – Family Euphorbiaceae)
are members of the Spurge family (Euphorbiaceae), rather than the legume, despite its name. The beans are poisonous, containing the phytotoxin, ricin. Symptoms of toxicity include burning in the mouth and throat, nausea and vomiting, severe stomach pains, bloody diarrhea, excessive thirst, prostration, dullness of vision, convulsions, kidney failure, and death up to twelve days later. It only takes one to three seeds for a child to die, and two to eight for an adult. However, the oil extracted from the seeds is important commercially and is not poisonous. The oil is used in medicines (castor oil), soaps, and as a lubricant.
China yellow beans, sulphur beans
are named because of their colour; but, in spite of their name, they are not from China, but native to Maine. They have a silky soft texture and a mellow flavour.
European soldier beans
is supposedly so named because their colour resemblence to a toy soldier. How this is possible in such a tiny bean is anyone’s guess, but likely came as a result of an early New England term, red-coats, which referred to the uniforms of the British soldiers. The distinctive markings are also said to resemble a soldier in Napoleon’s army. They have a slightly mealy texture, and should be slow-cooked whole to maintain their distinctive markings.
Flageolet bean or Flageolets de Chevrier
is regarded as a delicacy, and therefore, the most expensive of all beans. It is actually the immature, kidney shaped, pod seeds that are removed early. These under-ripe bean seeds are then eaten fresh or dried. They are usually a light green, but can be red and resemble the inner seeds of common green beans. Originating, in the Americas, the flageolet is a variety of haricot beans, first developed by Gabriel Chevrier in Brittany in 1872, and now cultivated mainly in France and Italy. They are traditionally eaten cold with an herb dressing or accompanying other salad items. This bean does not need soaking as it has a very delicate thin skin. It does require gentle, slow cooking, and only until just tender, as it will quickly turn mushy. The Great Northern bean is the North American version of the French haricot, the smaller French flageolet, and the Italian cannellini. The old Mexican word for bean was “ayacotl”, which was corrupted to form the French word “haricot”, which is now the generic term used by the French for all of their beans.
French horticultural bean
is an early heirloom variety in the Cranberry Bean family. It is also known as the October bean and is delicious in most every dish requiring beans. It has a firm texture and a sweet, nutty flavour.
French navy bean
is smaller than the American version, but still an ivory white with a tinge of green. It is especially creamy and tender and cooks rather quickly.
Green bean, French bean, garden bean (Phaseolus vulgaris ssp. vulgaris)
is classified as either a climbing or bush variety. The climbing varieties (Phaseolus vulgaris ssp. vulgaris var. vulgaris) have numerous types that are distinguished according to their colour and pod shape. They generally have broad, flat pods and are marketed as coco beans or wide beans. Their main advantage is that they are quick and easy to trim. Important varieties include the yellow wax bean and the purple-pod snap bean. The bush varieties include the thin bean, bush bean, and dwarf French bean. The thin bean is a mutant variety which arose by chance from the creeping form. It is distinguished according to colour, length, and cross-section of the pods. Among the most important types are the tender princess bean, the wax, bean, the snap bean, and the sugar bean. Bush beans are the type most often used in commercial canning and freezing and the ones easily harvested by machine.
Giant White beans
are large, flat, French white beans highly prized by French chefs as a side dish. They are similar in size and texture to the Emergo bean and sold by specialty suppliers.
Green Romano beans
are a fresh Italian green bean that has become a seasonal treat for those outside of Italy. It is a flat and wide green bean with a pronounced flavour. When young, the beans are quite tender; but by the time they reach about six inches and the inner bean seeds become visible, they are better dried and cooked for a longer period of time. Romano beans hold up well during cooking and do not disintegrate or become mushy. They also take well to such strong flavourings as garlic.
Jackson wonder bean
comes in mottled shades of beige and purplish-brown. It was popularized in Atlanta, Georgia, in the 1880s, where it became known as a good soup bean because of its creamy texture.
Jacob’s cattle bean, coach dog, Dalmatian bean, trout bean
is a kidney-shaped heirloom bean grown in New England since colonial days. It is long, slim, creamy white with a large dark maroon-coloured splotch and tiny satellite freckles of the same colour.
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