Kinds of Dried Beans #1

As promised or warned, as the case may be, this post goes along with my 18 May 2017 post entitled Dried Beans. If fact, there will be another post or two on the subject as well.

I heard people say that the dish they prepared doesn’t taste anything like it is supposed to. When asked if they followed the recipe, they’ll say they didn’t have ingredient A so they used ingredient B instead. And come to think of it, they also used ingredient X instead of ingredient Y because they like the taste of Y better. HELLO! It’s no wonder it tasted different. Beans are somewhat an exception to the rule. Some recipes call for a certain bean that you can’t find, as some beans are popular in certain parts of the country and not other areas. You can generally substitute another similar bean in most cases. Hopefully, the following list of beans and their description will help you if you run into this problem.

Red and Pink Beans

  • Cranberry Beans – also called ‘shellouts’ are a mottled pink and beige bean. They are a little smaller than kidneys beans and are typically found in the Eastern states while people on the West coast have never heard of them.
  • Light Red Kidney Beans – look just like kidney beans except being lighter in color. This bean is a good choice for chili. They turn a rosy brown when cooked, just like pinto and pink beans. Generally they are found across the country although some stores will only carry the red or light red beans, not both. Substitute these beans freely with the dark red kidneys.
  • Pink Beans – look a lot like pinto beans but do not have the spots. The pink, pinto and cranberry beans can be interchanged with each other. These beans can be found across the country, but not all grocery stores stock them.
  • Pinto Beans – look like cranberry beans except they are a pale pink that is spotted with a brown color. These ar most common in the West and Southwest.
  • Red Kidney Beans – are the darkest of all kidney beans. They are a deep red when dried and almost purple when cooked. These are the most common bean used in chili. The red kidney bean is found across the country and is grown in many gardens.
  • Small Red Beans – are bright red in color. they are sometimes called a Mexican chili bean or a red pea bean. Being smaller, firmer and less mealy than the kidney bean they are found mainly in the West and Southwest. Rarely found in the east, you can substitute any of the other pink or red beans but the results will be somewhat different.

White Beans

  • Baby Lima Beans – One of the fastest cooking beans, it can be found across the country. You probably grow these in your garden if you plant small lima beans.
  • Butter Beans – These are the large limas grown in most gardens. You can find these beans across the country and are a good bean along with the baby limas to dry yourself.
  • Great Northern Beans – A plump, meaty bean that is slightly larger than the typical navy bean. The great northern is grown mainly in Idaho. If you want to make a soft bean or a puree, use this bean. They can be found across the country in most grocery stores.
  • Marrow Beans – These beans look like a fat baby lima bean but are similar in size to and texture to the great northern bean. These beans may be interchanged. The marrow bean is generally found across the country but may not be available in all stores.
  • Navy Beans, Pea Beans, Small White Beans – These three beans seem to represent only two varieties. These beans are interchangeable, although the pea or small white is smaller and firmer than the standard navy bean. The navy bean, grown mainly in Michigan, are smaller than the great northern but larger than the small whites which are grown mainly in California. The pea bean sometimes refer to navy beans, while sometimes meaning a small white bean which may be grown outside of California. Being the cheapest of the white beans, you will find these available under one of the names across the country.

This is probably enough to try to comprehend in one sitting. More to come.

Keep your fork


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