Green, white & black – five favorite types of bean
Did you know there are more than 700 different types of beans? No wonder it’s hard to keep track! Here are five of the most popular.
Germany’s number one: green beans
Germans love green beans and often eat them with bacon and pear. One difference to other varieties is that you can eat the pods too. The season runs from May to October, but you can buy them tinned or frozen all year round. Fresh beans snap when bent so check before you buy. The term “green bean” is actually used for a range of beans including string beans, haricot verts and sugar snaps.
Chilli con carne’s star: kidney beans
This deep red bean originated in Peru and was bought to Europe during the colonial era. These days most of the kidney beans we eat are farmed in Africa or the US where they enjoy huge popularity. The taste is slightly sweet and the texture is floury. You can buy them tinned or dried. Everyone is familiar with kidney beans in chilli con carne, but they also taste great in salads or casseroles. Fun fact: yes, they really were named after the organ!
Two for the price of one: soya beans & edamame
Vegetarians and vegans often eat meat replacement products made using soya beans. They were farmed up to 5000 years ago by the Chinese, making them some of the oldest cultivated plants in existence. The pods can grow up to 10 cm in length with around five seeds in each. And did you know that edamame beans are nothing more than soft, unripe, green soya beans? They’ve steadily gained in popularity after foodies started adding them to Buddha bowls, salads and wraps. The Japanese like to snack on salted edamame beans and they’re a healthier alternative to crisps or biscuits. You can buy the fresh beans from June to September, or frozen in specialty Asian food stores.
Mr Heinz’s best friend: white beans
Used to make the country’s legendary “baked beans”, nobody eats more white beans than the British! As the name implies, the beans are baked in tomato sauce and can be served on toast, as part of a cooked breakfast or as a side. However, the trend hasn’t really taken off anywhere else. Most people simply add white beans to casseroles or salads. Just like green beans, the name “white beans” refers to any bean with a creamy white colour. Although their thin skin is edible they should never be eaten raw. And before cooking white beans need to be soaked for 12 hours in water. You can buy them fresh from May to October, or tinned and dried all year round.
A different spin on potatoes: black beans
While Europeans love potatoes, their South and Middle American counterparts are more likely to reach for black beans. In fact, rice and beans are a popular combination around the world, featuring in a range of national dishes. The beans have a sweet, slightly nutty flavour and a black skin. The inside is white, soft and floury. Just like white beans, black beans need to be soaked for around 12 hours before being cooked for up to an hour and a half. As well as tasting great with rice, they can also be added to stews, salads or pureed and used as a spread. You can even bake brownies and cookies using black beans!