Bean -

A vegetable which appears to have been cultivated long before the commencement of recorded history and in one variety or another to flourish in every part of the world. It was well known to the ancient Egyptians and Grecians - and when the first voyagers reached the Western continent they found that here also the growing of beans, and peas, had apparently always been a common industry among the natives - their preparation of beans and corn is perpetuated in "succotash."

The bean of European history is the Broad or Windsor variety, with broad curved pods, containing thick bulging seeds of distinct and agreeable flavor. It is largely grown in Europe and Canada but is not an important crop in the United States as the climate is not suitable for its best growth.

The principal beans of United States cultivation are the Kidney and Lima, both of them believed to be native to South America.

The Kidney bean is the Haricot of the French and in Great Britain is sometimes called the French bean. There are a great many varieties, capable of general classification into "tough podded" and "edible podded."

The "tough podded" class produces the bulk of the dried beans of commerce, variously known as "Kidney Beans," "Navy Beans," "Marrow Beans," "Black Beans," etc., in many colors, shapes and sizes. "Black" or "Turtle" Beans, grown chiefly in the Southern States, make an especially rich and excellent soup. Some varieties, as "Flageolets," are cultivated with special regard to the consumption of the fresh seeds or beans.

To the "edible-podded" class belong the numerous types of "Wax" or "Butter" beans, eaten fresh at all stages of development. The "Cranberry bean" or "Red Speckled bean," both shell and beans spotted or otherwise marked with red, is a variety cultivated principally in New England and popular there for making succotash.

string beans, Snap Beans, French Beans are immature pods of numerous kinds of Kidney beans. The best have little or no "string." They should be so young that the seeds are barely visible and should be marketed as quickly as possible after gathering. In buying, see that they are crisp and tender when broken - toughness or limpness is a sign of too great age or overlong keeping.

string beans are kept for winter use by salting, both for home use and retailing. They are a popular winter vegetable among Germans. Before cooking, they are soaked in water over night to remove the salt.

Canned string beans, described for quality as "Stringless," "Fancy," etc., are graded by size as "extra small," "small," etc. "Haricots Verts" are French string beans.

Lima Beans are flat, slightly kidney-shaped, and generally wrinkled or fluted. They are very popular, both fresh and dried, the green seeded types being considered the choicest. When dried, they serve as an agreeable winter food, soaked before cooking.

Pea Beans are the Cowpeas of the agriculturist, but they belong to the bean family in spite of that title. They are grown in many varieties, bearing seeds of different styles and colors. Their principal use is as a forage plant and soil fertilizer, but considerable quantities are dried for winter use. They are cooked like other dried beans and have a very pleasing flavor.

Among numerous other "special" varieties are the Soy bean (which see), Asparagus bean, Frijole, Lab-lab, Red bean and Scarlet Runner.

Asparagus Beans take their name from the great length of their pods, which average twelve inches or more in length and in some varieties even exceed a length of three feet. By Chinese gardeners in California they are known as "Tou Kok." The seeds are small but the green pods make an excellent "Snap" bean. They are used only to a limited extent in the United States, principally by the Chinese and other residents of Oriental birth or extraction, but they are beginning to find favor also among the white residents of California. They have long been cultivated in Europe.

Frijole Beans are a small flat variety, generally of a reddish brown or light tan color, very common, both "green" and dried, in the Southwest and Mexico.

Lab-lab, or Egyptian Kidney, beans are frequently grown as an ornamental plant but they are very productive and under proper cultivation can be used both as String and Dried beans.

Red Beans are grown principally in the tropics. They are less liable to cause intestinal irritation than the ordinary bean, but they are difficult to transport because of their tender skins.

The Scarlet Runner is also cultivated here principally as an ornamental climber, but it is consumed in large quantities in Europe, especially in England, both as a string and green shell bean.

Selecting and cooking dried beans. Well dried, mature beans are smooth and shiny. If there are folds in the skins, it generally signifies poor drying or inferior quality. They should also be of uniform size and appearance. The most important qualification is that they should cook soft. The size is chiefly a matter of taste and the color, other things being equal, is unimportant. The prejudice against beans that grow dark in cooking is unfortunate as many of them are of fine quality and flavor and frequently more tender than the very white.

The first step in household cooking is the swelling of the bean and softening of the skin by soaking in cold water for generally not less than eight hours. Some cooks cover with hot water so as to shorten the time but the cold water method is preferable. The large Lima Beans after soaking may be easily slipped out of their skins by sieving or stirring in water, the skins rising to the top and being then skimmed off. After this process, beans can be boiled and served in many ways, whole, mashed as "bean pudding," in soup making, etc.

Beans, as also peas, are exceptionally rich in food value. Even when immature or "green" they are much more nutritious than other vegetables of popular use, and when ripe or "dry" they excel nearly all other foods - both animal and vegetable. They average at least as much protein as meat and nearly as much carbohydrates as wheat. The only lack is in the fat component. See FOOD VALUES.

Arround Bean in The Grocer's Encyclopedia

Bean Flour

The Grocer's Encyclopedia
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