Full of Beans

I haven’t yet written about Beans in the ‘educational’ sense. With the recent Is My Blog Burning featuring the legume, I’d figured now would be the best time to provide context on what makes a bean a bean.

The first thing one has to realize when it comes to beans is that they come in two basic camps…old world beans and new world beans. Bean originally meant the seed of the fava bean (old world), but was later broadened to include members of the genus Phaseolus (new world) such as the common bean or haricot and the runner bean and the related genus Vigna. This would include soybeans, peas and lentils, but for the sake of this post, we’ll discuss those legumes in later posts (or in the case of lentils, we’ll simply refer to a previous post…’cause we’re cool like that).

Fava Beans are old world. I think that’s pretty clear. If you’re eating horse beans, broad beans, or field beans, these to are also Fava Beans. So much for variety in European Beans.

But here’s the big secret when it comes to beans…pinto, kidney, navy, black turtle bean, snap beans, French, green, wax (yellow pods), pole and runner (climbing) beans??? All the same type of bean.

I bet you didn’t see that one coming did you?

It’s true.. they’re all Phaseolus vulgaris. They’re simply harvested at different times and dried or canned at seperate times during their development. It is also true that these beans exist in many forms and colors. They are grown as dry beans or as green beans.

Then there’s the good ol’ Lima bean…also known as Phaseolus lunatus. Now I could talk about other beans out there, but this one holds a special place in my heart. Why? Because it’s the oldest domesticated plant found in the western Hemisphere. It’s suggested that it was developed in what is now Guatemala, and if we’re to believe that from domesticated food comes civilization, then the lima bean is responsible for the birth of societies in the Western Hemisphere…way back around 7000 BC.

So yeah, lima beans may be the bane of youths world wide. Yes, it make taste horrible when cooked from the Frozen Green Giant packages. But it helped create entire cultures.

It still won’t help me get over my aversion to them tho’.

Tags: , ,