Beans are the seeds of the annual bean plants belonging to the legume family (Leguminosae) and are transported in dry form. Similar to other beans, the common bean is high in starch, protein and dietary fiber and is an excellent source of iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folic acid. Dry beans will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but as time passes, their nutritive value and flavor degrade and cooking times lengthen. New crop beans have a smooth, tight, close-fitting husk, while old crop beans are withered, slightly wrinkly and (in the case of haricot beans) discolored gray and no longer have good cooking properties. The maximum admissible admixture content is 1%, of which at most 0.5% is harmful (i.e. contamination by soil, small stones, seeds from other crop plants and weeds, empty legume husks, grain admixtures, etc.). Diversity in dry common beans
Many well-known bean varieties belong to this species, and none of the lists below are in any way exhaustive. Both bush and running (pole) varieties exist. The colors and shapes of pods and seeds vary tremendously. Black beans
The small, shiny black turtle bean is especially popular in Latin American cuisine, though it can also be found in Cajun and Creole cuisines of South Louisiana. It is often called simply the black bean (frijol negro, zaragoza, poroto negro, caraota o habichuela negra in Spanish, and feijão preto in Portuguese), although this can cause confusion with other black beans. Black turtle beans
The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture, which makes it popular in vegetarian dishes, such as the Mexican-American black bean burrito. It is a very popular bean in various regions of Brazil, and is used in the national dish, feijoada. It is also a main ingredient of Moros y Cristianos in Cuba, is a must-have in the typical gallo pinto of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, is a fundamental part of pabellón criollo in Venezuela, and is served in almost all of Latin America, as well as many Hispanic enclaves in the United States. In the Dominican Republic cuisine, it is also used for a variation of the Moros y Cristianos simply called Moro de Habichuelas Negras. The black turtle bean is also popular as a soup ingredient. In Cuba, black bean soup is a traditional dish, usually served with white rice.
It is also common to keep the boiled water of these beans (which acquires a black coloring) and consume it as a soup with other ingredients for seasoning (known as sopa negra, black soup), as a broth (caldo de frijol, bean broth) or to season or color other dishes (aforementioned gallo pinto, for example). Cranberry and borlotti beans
Cranberry beans originated in Colombia as the cargamanto. The bean is a medium-large, tan or hazelnut-colored bean, splashed with red/black to magenta streaks. A new cranberry bean variety, ‘Crimson’, is light tan and speckled maroon, and is also resistant to viruses and has a high yield. Crimson is a new cranberry dry bean. Borlotti beans
Borlotti beans also known as Roman beans or romano beans (not to be confused with Italian flat beans, a green bean also called “romano bean”), are a variety of cranberry bean bred in Italy to have a thicker skin. They are much used in Italian, Portuguese and Greek cuisine.
Pinto beans look the same as cranberry and borlotti beans, but differ in taste. Flageolet beans
The flageolet bean is often eaten in France. They are small, light green, and kidney shaped. The texture is firm yet creamy if shelled and cooked when fresh but semi-dry. Red Kidney Beans
The kidney bean, otherwise called the chili bean, with its dark red skin, is named for its visual resemblance in shape and colour to a kidney. Kidney beans are also known as red beans, although this can confuse it with other beans that are red, such as azuki beans. Red kidney beans are an integral part of the cuisine in northern region of India. Red kidney beans are used in New Orleans and much of southern Louisiana for the classic Monday Creole dish of red beans and rice. The smaller, darker red beans are also used, particularly in Louisiana families with a recent Caribbean heritage. They are a common ingredient in chili con carne. Small kidney beans used in La Rioja, Spain, are called caparrones.
Kidney beans, and some others, are poisonous if not pre-soaked and subsequently heated to the boiling point for at least 10 minutes. The toxic agent, Phytohaemagglutinin (Kidney Bean Lectin), is found in many beans, but the highest concentration of the lectin is found in kidney beans. Undercooked beans are known to contain five times the toxicity of raw, soaked beans, so boiling for an extended time is required. Pea beans
The pea bean is a variety of edible climbing bean that has been recorded in Britain since the 16th century. The seeds are unusual in being strongly bicoloured – red-brown and white. The plants are a typical climbing bean. The beans are either eaten in the pod like French beans or they may be harvested when mature and eaten as other dried beans. Pink beans
Pink beans are small, oval-shaped beans, pale pink in color, also known by the Spanish name habichuelas rosadas. The Santa Maria pinquito (spanglish = pink and small), is commercially grown on the mesas above Santa Maria, California, and is a necessary ingredient in Santa Maria Style BBQ. Pinto beans
The pinto bean (Spanish: frijol pinto, literally “speckled bean” and in S. America it is known as the “poroto frutilla”, literally “strawberry bean”; Portuguese: feijão carioca, literally “carioca bean”) is named for its mottled skin (compare pinto horse), hence it is a type of mottled bean. It is the most common bean in the United States and northwestern Mexico, and is most often eaten whole in broth or mashed and refried. Either whole or mashed, it is a common filling for burritos. The young pods may also be harvested and cooked as green pinto beans.
This is the bean most commonly used for refried beans (fresh or canned) and in many dishes. Rice and pinto beans served with cornbread or corn tortillas are often a staple meal where meat is unavailable; the amino acids in this combination make it a complete protein source. This variety is often used in chili con carne, although the kidney bean, black bean, and many others may also be used in other locales (see below).
Pinto beans are commonly eaten beans in Brazilian cuisine (legumes, mainly common bean, are a staple food everywhere in the country, cultivated since 3000BCE, along with starch-rich foods, such as rice, manioc, pasta and other wheat-based products, polenta and other corn-based products, potatoes and yams).
In the southeastern part of the United States, pinto beans were once a staple of the people, especially during the winter months. Alubia pinta alavesa
The alubia pinta alavesa, or the “Alavese pinto bean”, a red variety of the pinto bean, originated in Añana, a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country of northern Spain. In October, the Feria de la alubia pinta alavesa (Alavese pinto bean fair) is celebrated in Pobes. White beans
The small, white navy bean, also called pea bean or haricot, is particularly popular in the United Kingdom and the United States, featured in such dishes as baked beans and even pies, as well as in various soups such as Senate bean soup. Consumption of baked beans has been shown to lower total cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This might be at least partly explained by high saponin content of navy bean. Saponins also exhibit antibacterial and anti-fungal activity, and have been found to inhibit cancer cell growth. Furthermore, navy bean is the richest source of ferulic acid and p-coumaric acid among the common bean varieties. Cannellini beans
Other white beans include cannellini, a popular variety in central and southern Italy, which is related to the kidney bean, and like the kidney bean, it has higher levels of the toxin lectin (phytohaemagglutinin). Two notable Greek types of giant white beans exist, the gígantes and the eléfantes, which are more than twice as big as regular beans, taste slightly sweeter, and are favored for baking. These beans are white types of the Phaseolus coccineus runner bean. They are produced in a specific part of northern Greece, but can be found throughout the country. This kind of bean is considered as one of the main dishes that is used in Iraqi cuisine.
White beans are the most abundant plant-based source of phosphatidylserine (PS) yet known. Yellow beans
Sinaloa Azufrado, Sulphur, Mayocoba, and Peruano (also called canary) are types of yellow beans.
Peruano beans (also called canary or mayacoba beans) are small, oval, yellow-colored beans about 1/2 inch (1 cm) long with a thin skin. Peruano beans have a creamy texture when cooked, and are one of the top-selling beans in Mexico City since 2005 (being native to Mexico, despite the name).
Beans have a high content of starch (58%) and protein (22%) and are among the highest protein foodstuffs, especially in Europe and East Asia. Beans are primarily used as a staple in stews, salads and soups. Bean husks also have therapeutic uses.
Shipment / storage
Usually beans are shipped in bags, which have often been previously used, but sometimes in bulk. Almost all types of beans are liable to heat, and will deteriorate if shipped in damp condition, which will cause them to heat, sweat and ferment. Beans shipped with excessive moisture content may be delivered in a mouldy or rotten condition. Such condition should not be confused with that arising from improper packing, stowage, storage, etc. Contact with sea or fresh water will also cause mould. Beans are liable to infestation by weevil, which causes loss of bulk, and if exposed to heat may breed vermin. White spots or deposits on the outside of the bean do not necessarily indicate damage to external causes. Dried beans develop weevils internally, which eat their way out from the centre of the bean and in doing so cause white spots to develop. Beans are subject to loss in weight due to evaporation of moisture. Passively ventilated containers (coffee containers) subject to compliance with lower limits for water content of goods, packaging and container flooring. In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, since this may lead to mold, spoilage and self-heating. Air exchange rate at least 10 changes/hour (airing). Where ventilation is inadequate, especially at water contents > 15%, heat and moisture result in a tendency towards self-heating. Dried beans have a storage life of approx. 2 years.
- Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion
- Mechanical influences
- Insect infestation / Diseases