Sunday, February 22, 2009

Apple #371: Beans -- lima beans

This is the third entry in a series about Beans.


Lima beans in the shell.
(Photo from Food Subs)

Lima beans being rinsed.
(Photo from Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center)

Categorized as:
  • Fruit
  • One of FAO's pulses
  • Species name is Phaseolus lunatus, or the sieva bean. It turns out, "sieva bean" is yet another name for Lima beans. It's not one I have ever heard for Lima beans, but I guess that's what the scientists call their Lima beans.

General facts:

  • I discussed lima beans briefly in a previous entry about Peru. Because Lima beans really are named after Lima (lee-mah), Peru.
  • Lima beans were probably first grown in Brazil or perhaps Guatemala, but Europeans first ate them when they were in Lima. So they called them Lima beans.
  • Sometimes they're called butter beans because of their soft, buttery texture. They are also occasionally called chad beans.
  • Most Lima beans are green or cream colored, but some less common varieties are red, purple, brown, or black.
  • Baby Lima beans are grown in Peru. Fordhook Lima beans, another popular variety, are grown in the US. I prefer the baby Limas because they're usually more tender, and don't toughen when you cook them, which can sometimes happen with the bigger Fordhooks.
  • Lima bean plants do well in humid and tropical climates, so they have become an important crop in African and Asian countries.
  • Lima beans contain a compound which is used to make cyanide. But eating cooked Lima beans won't poison you. Most varieties grown in the US have very low levels of the compound, and commercially-sold Lima beans have all been rinsed first, so they contain even less.
  • It's hard to find fresh Lima beans, but canned (not so great) and frozen (better) Lima beans are widely available.
  • Succotash is Lima beans and corn and sometimes stewed tomatoes. I used to think it had to be more complicated than that for such a fancy word, but that's all it is.
  • Lots of Lima bean recipes are listed here at lovetoknow.

Next bean on the menu: chickpeas.

The World's Healthiest Foods, Lima beans, Lima Bean Trivia
USDA Plants Database, Classification Down to Family Fabaceae
FAO, Definition and Classification of Commodities, 4. Pulses and Derived Products
NationMaster, Encyclopedia, Pulses
Wikipedia, Fabaceae and pulses
Edhat Santa Barbara, Veggie of the Week - Shell Beans

1 comment:

  1. Limas are my favorite bean. Thanks for the info.


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