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Old 02-13-2019, 10:03 AM
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Help me sort these dried beans: broad, fava, lima, butter


I've been googling and getting more confused than not. Lately I'm into making soup in my Instant Pot with dried beans. I don't presoak the beans, because that takes away a lot of the flavor. (Also, Jacques Pepin doesn't soak HIS beans, so there.)

As far as I've been able to determine, broad beans and fava beans are the same thing. They are called broad beans in the UK and elsewhere. Broad beans were the Two Fat Ladies' (of blessed memory) favorite beans. I know from cooking programs that FRESH fava/broad beans require a lot of prep. You take them out of their pods, then you blanch the individual beans, and then you STILL have to remove individual skins.

QUESTION: some of the stuff I've been reading about dried broad/favas seems to be saying that they need almost as much prep as the fresh ones. You have to boil them for some period of time and then peel off individual skins before you can go ahead and make your recipe. Is that true? Surely not. Why would anyone bother with such a high-maintenance bean?

As a corollary, I found a recipe for Butter Bean Soup with dried beans. However, at my grocery store I didn't find dried butter beans. A little googling right there in the bean aisle told me that butter beans and lima beans are the same thing. What? Next they're gonna tell me that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are the same thing.

What I did was buy the dried broad beans thinking I could use them in the Butter Bean Soup recipe, because I absolutely refused to accept that butter beans = lima beans. Then I started reading up on broad/fava beans. Now, chastened, I'm humbly asking for help and clarification.

See what happens when you retire? No more meetings, deadlines, reports, or frankly, even getting dressed in the morning... Just obsessing over recipes.
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Last edited by ThelmaLou; 02-13-2019 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 10:36 AM
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Yes, butter beans and lima beans are the same thing. Butter beans is the U.S. Southern term for them, and where I live at least, they're generally picked while immature, so they're smaller than mature beans, which usually get called limas (and those are usually the ones that are dried). Where I live they are most commonly sold fresh or frozen. There are white ones and green ones. Most of the ones I see here are either white or a very pale green.
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Old 02-13-2019, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by romansperson View Post
Yes, butter beans and lima beans are the same thing. Butter beans is the U.S. Southern term for them, and where I live at least, they're generally picked while immature, so they're smaller than mature beans, which usually get called limas (and those are usually the ones that are dried). Where I live they are most commonly sold fresh or frozen. There are white ones and green ones. Most of the ones I see here are either white or a very pale green.
Oh, thank you for that. Once again, reality wins out.

Update: after studying my bag of broad beans, I concluded that they were split and hulled. So I put half the bag to cook for 30 mins at pressure in my Instant Pot with half an onion, a stalk of celery, and a quart of water. They may be ready to be incorporated into soup after that.
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Old 02-13-2019, 11:58 AM
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Further update: that was a complete failure. The beans disintegrated into shredded fragments. They smell absolutely awful. Taste okay. I guess 30 mins was too long at pressure. Sigh. I wish I owned goats. Or pigs.
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Old 02-13-2019, 01:29 PM
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Hey. I'm cooking butter.beans right now. Mine come from my garden last year. I froze about 30 quarts. If you look in the freezer section you will find baby limas. They are light green in color and better than frozen green peas, IMO. They are great as an ingred in soups or all alone. I have cooked the dried ones, not nearly good. Don't know Fava beans, sorry.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 02-13-2019 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
Hey. I'm cooking butter.beans right now. Mine come from my garden last year. I froze about 30 quarts. If you look in the freezer section you will find baby limas. They are light green in color and better than frozen green peas, IMO. They are great as an ingred in soups or all alone. I have cooked the dried ones, not nearly good. Don't know Fava beans, sorry.
These are the ones my local grocery sells. Our food co-op puts them in the chicken pot pies they make on site - they're pretty good.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:17 PM
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Have you tried addressing the problem with a glass of a nice Chianti?
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:21 PM
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Have you tried addressing the problem with a glass of a nice Chianti?
Wins the thread!

Okay, the broad/fava beans were a bust. I drained the cooked bean mush, but I believe it's beyond redemption. The memory of the smell will stay with me forever.

Thanks to Beckdawreck and romansperson for lima/butter bean info. I have bought the PictSweet frozen ones in the past, and that's what I'm going to use in my Butter Bean Soup recipe.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:34 PM
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Butter beans are what southerners call fresh lima beans. Fava beans are what the English call broad beans. They are also called horse beans, as they are used for animal feed in Europe especially. They are the only old-world bean eaten fresh, and here they are mainly just grown as a green manure crop to be plowed in. They are not in same genus as the new-world beans (limas, green beans, runner beans). If you ever buy fresh favas you'll see that each seed has an outer skin which needs to be shucked, so it is double shucking, first the pod and then the seed coat. You can shuck them raw, or lightly steam them and then shuck them (easier). If you buy dried favas they are already shucked, of course. Dried favas turn to mush when cooked, as discovered by the OP.

Before the Americas were contacted, favas were the only bean Europeans had (they had peas, and lentils where it was warm enough to grow them). No pole beans, no tomatoes, no corn, no squashes or eggplant or okra.

Last edited by Ulfreida; 02-13-2019 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 02-13-2019, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Wins the thread!

Okay, the broad/fava beans were a bust. I drained the cooked bean mush, but I believe it's beyond redemption. The memory of the smell will stay with me forever.
A WAG - maybe it was the onion? I've never cooked favas, but upon Googling on why they might smell bad, here's a blog post from a woman that said hers came out 'smelling like horses' - and she put onion in hers too.
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Old 02-13-2019, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by romansperson View Post
A WAG - maybe it was the onion? I've never cooked favas, but upon Googling on why they might smell bad, here's a blog post from a woman that said hers came out 'smelling like horses' - and she put onion in hers too.
Could be. Although some of the cooking suggestions I read said to put in onion and celery when cooking them prior to using the cooked beans in a recipe. When I make other kinds of dried beans, I usually put in onion and other stuff, too. Alas, I'm not enough of a scientist to pursue the question.
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