question about beans

blackcats13January 11, 2009

I thought I'd post a new topic about beans rather then continue to hijack the other thread.

My beans (great northern, yum) are in a pot of water on the stove waiting to boil. Why do some float in water and not others? Are the floating ones the older beans?

Also, a lot of them are kinda deformed ... like they got caught in a grinder or something, not smooth bean shaped. Is that bad? I didn't take them out because then I would lose a quarter of them!

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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Good idea, blackcats, to move the bean subject.

Not sure why the beans would float, but it would seem that they coule have be hollowed out, or dried out inside to float and might not be good solid beans. Take some apart and let us know. Sometimes a few skins of pinto beans float and I just skim them off. But a few broken beans wouldn't bother me.

Thank you Grainlady for the great bean site you gave on the 'stretching groceries' thread. They explain the reason why I was advised to add a tablespoon of baking soda to the soaking water. Our water here is VERY hard. I'll try using filtered water as they suggest instead.

Ilene, I can't remember for sure what color the speckled lima beans were either. It seems like there were brown or maroon speckles over white.

I did a search and this place has speckled lima beans for sale by mailorder. Not sure if they are dried or frozen. A picture in on the lower left of the page. They look more like a speckled red bean mentioned on other sites:

But it seems like the ones I used to buy looked more like this one called Christmas lima beans, or speckled butter beans:

Alas, I could find no dried Speckled butter beans for sale except as seeds, as was mentioned. Guess we'll have to grow our own.

Here is a link that might be useful: Speckled Calico Pole Lima Beans

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 5:06PM
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When we have had a summer drought, beans and corn that did not get watered (hose did not reach), often had smaller and or odd shaped seeds. If you tap lightly with a hammer, you may note that the beans have a hollow space. Though the irregular beans floated, they were tasty. In sorting the beans before cooking, remove any that appear to have dried mold or dirt. I usually burn these to reduce chances of adding problems to my garden.

If you are a black walnut sheller, you may have noticed that some of the kernels are shrunken-yet super tasty during a severe drought year. In years of adequate or excess rain, I have not found any year old walnuts with shrunken kernels.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 10:20PM
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Roselee, I'm thinking they were brown and white beans. There are a lot of speckled limas for sale as seed, but all of the ones I have seen are red or dark brown. I seem to remember the beans as being white with brown flecks but it's been so long since I've seen any, I could be wrong. The speckled butter beans on your first link look like they might be about right, but I don't remember so much variation from bean to bean.

There is a place called Purcell Mountain that sells what they call gourmet beans for eating. If you Google Purcell Mountain you'll find their site. Their beans are expensive, though, and there's nothing on there that looks like the speckled butter beans I think I remember.

Blackcats, when I cook beans, I do sort through them before they are washed, mainly because there's sometimes a little clump of dried mud amongst the beans. While I'm doing this, I remove any beans that are shriveled and those that have discolored spots on them. If it's a white bean these will show up as brownish yellow. Shriveling means that the bean was not completely formed when it was shelled. I guess they'd actually be OK to eat but I don't. Discolorations indicate some degree of spoilage and I don't think those beans would taste good.

However, I don't mind deformed beans, or "floaters", if there are no other issues. They cook up just as well.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 1:39PM
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Don't know why they float.

My fav (cheap) beans are:

#1 Pinto - plump, nice taste, relatively low energy requirements to cook. Inexpensive too in bulk amounts at Walmart.

#2 Great Northern - plump up nice, very low energy to cook them

A thread on GN vs Navy beans;

#3 and beyond that are red beans, black beans and black eyed peas. But I usually don't cook them as I prefer the top 2 beans.

Lima beans give me so-so results. Some cook up hard and it takes a long time and energy to cook them. Same with garbanzoes.

BTW, on average, a 1 pound bag of dried pinto beans cooks up to = 3 1/4 cans of store bought beans.

I tried 8 bean soup and did not like it. Too hard to digest and the beans cook at all different times - some mush up, some beans still hard.

Now cook bean individually and mix with rice, salads etc. Like em a lot. And not to forget the lentils and split peas.

What are your (cheap) bean favorites...and why? (Since we are a frugal bunch, I did not talk about the $4 a pound organic gourmet stuff.)

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 9:33AM
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We go with great northerns and white navy beans here. I make Maine baked beans. The other half makes a mean chili using black beans. Both meals are pretty inexpensive, and there are always leftovers. For instance, with the chili, we serve leftovers over mashed potatoes, in burritos, or homemade hot pockets.
Also, the occasional pea soup. My grandmother had many tales of living off this during, and after, the depression.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 10:06AM
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**My grandmother had many tales of living off this during, and after, the depression.**

Yeah, with me my family had tales of lentil soup.

Beans, rice, soups and stews. All are economical and healthy eating. Great for cold weather too. I just bought some yellow split peas. Never tried it but will give it a go. I always used green split peas.

I gave up ham in the split peas. I use a little smoke flavor and skinless chicken thighs with low salt. (1 1/2 ts salt per big pot. ) Have high BP tendency so have to watch sodium.

If you have to watch the sodium be careful with cheap cuts of chicken and turkey. Look at the sodium content. Many are injected with chemicals and sodium.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 8:49AM
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I wish I could come up with a recipe my husband likes for beans. He will tolerate them in chili and soup but does not like them on their own. I am not much of a meat eater and would love to use more beans in my daily cooking.
We recently had a side dish at Bonefish grill that was fresh baby lima beans (I think!) mixed with a few other small chopped fresh vegetables sauteed with a little bacon. They were cooked just barely enough and were perfect. I ate every bite of mine and finished my husbands too.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 4:19PM
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jonsgirl - My hubby isn't a bean lover either, but WILL eat Bean Burgers. I bake up a bunch and freeze them for a good vegetarian meal. As long as I butter and toast the homemade multi-grain bun and he can load it with grilled onions, he's happy!!!


(source: Eat More, Weigh Less - by Dr. Dean Ornish

1/2 c. minced green onions (I also use chopped fresh chives)
1-1/2 T. minced garlic
2 T. white wine or vegetable stock
1 29-ounce can cooked drained pinto beans
3/4 c. cracker meal
2 egg whites (I use one whole egg.)
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 t. SPIKE seasoning powder (I get this at our local health food store)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a small nonstick saute pan, braise the onions and garlic in the white wine until soft.

In a medium bowl, combine the sauteed onions and garlic, beans, cracker meal, egg whites, parsley, vinegar, and seasoning powder. Mash well with a fork or potato masher until blended but not entirely smoowh.

On parchment-lined nonstick baking sheet, drop the mixture by 1/2-cup amounts and flatten gently with a spoon to form six 5-inch "burgers." Bake for 25 minutes, or until set and beginning to brown lightly. Serve hot.

Note: I make smaller "burgers". Don't like super-sized food and 5" burgers, even made with beans, is just way too big!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 6:20PM
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Oh, thank you! I didn't even think of 'burgers'!! These sound really good!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 8:08PM
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tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

Jonsgirl- My DH also was not much of a bean eater but he is starting to come around. There are several recipes for straight beans that are wonderful in Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon. Sometimes our favorite way with them is to cook a big pot and at the end of the cooking add tomatoes, lots of garlic, cilantro and green chile. (I try to mix in some finely chopped greens to this too, but that is not an official part of the recipe). I think that DH missed flavor most of all. He still does not like red beans and rice so I really just don'the bother with that one anymore.

One of the other ways that he enjoys them is bean dip. There are numerous recipes out there for healthy black bean dips but one of my favorites too is for a white bean dip. Puree drained and rinsed cannelini with garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. Serve with pita bread. Hummus is also a regular here.

Last weekend I made a tomato based sauce that included greens (kale), mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, and beans (the recipe called for black-eyed peas which I detest so I used some Bolitas I had in the freezer). This put on top of polenta and served with a glass of red wine. Fine eatin to be sure.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 9:08PM
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That sounds delicious, I love dishes like that! I will just have to experiment more.
I wonder if it goes back to upbringing, he is one of nine and his mother was not interested in cooking, just threw stuff together. He said her chili was all beans, very little meat and no seasonings...we always had lots of simple but really good mexican food in my house, and he will eat my refried beans...

Grainlady, can I substitute for the SPIKE seasoning if I can't find it?

I think a lot of it is in his head, we were at one of our favorite Italian places for dinner, and they always bring a basket of foccacia and italian bread, parmesan crisps, and a little dish of white bean dip. It's delicious with lots of garlic..anyway, Jon always would eat some and I never said anything...just figured he was extra hungry so was tolerating the beans. Finally he says to me "Does that garlic butter taste funny to you?" I about died laughing.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2009 at 10:38PM
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jonsgirl - The recipe in the book also recommends a mixture called "A Little Italian".

2 T. dried basil
2 T. dried marjroam
2 T. dried oregano
2 T. ground coriander
2 T. dried thyme
2 T. dried rosemary
2 T. dried savory
1 t. hot red pepper flakes

In the bowl of a food processor, combine all the ingredients. Process for 30 seconds until finely ground. Transfer to a tightly sealed container, label and date. Store in a cool dark place for up to 3 months.

[Grainlady note: I'd only make 1/2 the recipe and use a small food processor for blending. Keep in a jar with a silicon pillow - moisture absorbers found in pill bottles - in with the mixture to absorb moisture since it doesn't have any anti-caking ingredients in the mixture. Keep it in the refrigerator, which happens to be a very dry environment, to keep it from caking together.]

Spike has a very l-o-n-g list of ingredients (39) so you wouldn't want to try to duplicate it. We use SPIKE a lot around our house - added to mashed potatoes, on baked or grilled chicken, added to homemade crackers, tomato juice, dips, etc....


Here is a link that might be useful: Spike Seasonings

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 8:49AM
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Oh, Thank you! Lots of yummy looking stuff there, I will have to find some of that seasoning, I think my husband would love it.

You make your own crackers?? What kind?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 11:59AM
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If you have large, flattish, lima-sized, dark, speckled beans they are probably Scarlet Runner Beans. They are delicious, cook up soft and buttery, and are easy to grow, especially in the cool early season. They are good cooked like limas or in stews. Hummingbirds love the flowers too.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2009 at 8:10PM
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