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Plant with immature fruit
|Phaseolus vulgaris |
 DescriptionThe common bean is a highly variable species with a long history. Bush varieties form erect bushes 20–60 cm tall, while pole or running varieties form vines 2–3 m long. All varieties bear alternate, green or purple leaves, divided into three oval, smooth-edged leaflets, each 6–15 cm long and 3–11 cm wide. The white, pink, or purple flowers are about 1 cm long, and give way to pods 8–20 cm long, 1–1.5 cm wide, green, yellow, black or purple in color, each containing 4–6 beans. The beans are smooth, plump, kidney-shaped, up to 1.5 cm long, range widely in color, and are often mottled in two or more colors.
As the common bean is a dicot, it germinates as such:
- The primary root emerges through the seed coats while the seed is still buried in the soil.
- The hypocotyl emerges from the seed coats and pushes its way up through the soil. It is bent in a hairpin shape — the hypocotyl arch (Crozier's hook) — as it grows up. The two cotyledons protect the epicotyl structures — the plumule — from mechanical damage.
- Once the hypocotyl arch emerges from the soil, it straightens out. This response is triggered by light (phototropism). While this may be caused by most wavelengths of light, the critical photoperidic mechanism is sensitive to red or far red light. This mechanism is crucial, not only to Phaseolus beans, but to most flowering plants. It defines the phenology of their growth, and in some cases growth habits.
- The cotyledons spread apart, exposing the epicotyl, consisting of two primary leaves and the apical meristem.
- In many dicots, the cotyledons not only supply their food stores to the developing plant but also turn green and make more food by photosynthesis until they drop off.
 ToxicityBefore they are eaten, the raw bean seeds should be soaked in water for several hours and then boiled for at least ten minutes in new fresh water to degrade a toxic compound - the lectin phytohaemagglutinin - found in the bean which would otherwise cause severe gastric upset. This compound is present in many varieties (and in some other species of bean), but is especially concentrated in red kidney beans and white kidney beans (Cannellini beans). Although in the case of dry beans the ten minutes required to degrade the toxin is much shorter than the hours required to fully cook the beans themselves, outbreaks of poisoning have been associated with the use of slow cookers whose low cooking temperatures may be unable to degrade the toxin. Sprouts of pulses high in haemaglutins should not be eaten. Kidney beans, especially, should not be sprouted.
 Dry beansSimilar 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. Dried beans are almost always cooked by boiling, often after having been soaked for several hours. While the soaking is not strictly necessary, it shortens cooking time and results in more evenly textured beans. In addition, discarding one or more batches of soaking water leaches out hard-to-digest complex sugars that can cause flatulence, though those who eat beans regularly rarely have difficulties with flatulence as intestinal microbes adjust. There are several methods including overnight soaking, and the power soak method, which is to boil beans for three minutes, then set them aside for 2-4 hours, then drain and discard the water and proceed with cooking. Common beans take longer to cook than most pulses: cooking times vary from one to four hours but are substantially reduced with pressure cooking.
In Mexico, Central America and South America, the traditional spice to use with beans is epazote, which is also said to aid digestion. In East Asia a type of seaweed, Kombu, is added to beans as they cook for the same purpose. Salt, sugar, and acidic foods like tomatoes may harden uncooked beans resulting in seasoned beans at the expense of slightly longer cooking times.
Dry beans may also be bought pre-cooked and canned as refried beans, or whole with water, salt, and sometimes sugar.
 Green beans
|Green beans (snap beans) |
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|Energy 30 kcal 130 kJ|
|Percentages are relative to US |
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
 Snap, string and stringless bean varietiesOver 130 varieties of snap beans are known. Varieties specialized for use as green beans, selected for the succulence and flavor of their pods, are the ones usually grown in the home vegetable garden, and many varieties exist. Pod color can be green, golden, purple, red, or streaked. Shapes range from thin "fillet" types to wide "romano" types and more common types in between. French Haricots verts (green beans) are bred for flavorful pods.
- Rodcor, 53 days (yellow)
- Golden Wax/Improved Golden Wax/Pencil Pod Black Wax/Top Notch, 55 days (yellow, heirloom)
- Red Swan, 55 days (red)
- Blue Lake 274, 58 days (green)
- Maxibel, 59 days (green fillet)
- Roma II, 59 days (green romano)
- Dragon's Tongue, 60 days (streaked)
- Marvel of Venice, 54 days (yellow romano)
- Blue Lake, 60 days (green)
- Fortex, 60 days (green fillet)
- Kentucky Blue, 63 days (green), 1991 AAS winner
- Rattlesnake, 73 days (streaked, heirloom)
- Purple King, 75 days (purple)
 Shelling beansAs with other beans, prominent among them lima beans, soybeans, peas, and fava beans, common beans can be used for fresh shell beans, can also be called shelling beans, which are fully mature beans harvested from the pod before they have begun to dry.
Nutritionally, shell beans are similar to dry beans, but in the kitchen are treated as a vegetable, often steamed, fried, or made into soups.
 Popping beansThe nuña is an Andean subspecies, Phaseolus vulgaris subsp. nunas (formerly Phaseolus vulgaris (Nuñas Group)), with round multicolored seeds which resemble pigeon eggs. When cooked on high heat, the bean explodes, exposing the inner part, in the manner of popcorn and other puffed grains.
 AnasaziThe Anasazi bean (aka Aztec bean, Cave bean, New Mexico Appaloosa) is a bean native to the North American Southwest.
 Black beansLatin American cuisine. It is often called simply the black bean (frijol negro in Spanish, feijão preto in Portuguese), although this can cause confusion with other black beans.
The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture and flavor reminiscent of mushrooms, 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 principal ingredient of Platillo Moros y Cristianos in Cuba, is a must-have in the typical gallo pinto of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and is served in almost all of Latin America as well as many Hispanic enclaves in the United States. The black turtle bean is also very popular for making into soups which are best eaten with Cuban crackers.
Black turtle beans have recently been reported to be an extremely good source of nutritional antioxidants.
Black turtle bean varieties include:
- Black Magic
 Cranberry and Borlotti beansColombia as the cargamanto. The bean is a medium large tan bean, splashed with red/black to magenta streaks.
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. It is very popular in Italian, Portuguese and Turkish cuisine.
Pinto beans look the same as cranberry and borlotti beans, but differ in taste.
 Pink beansPink beans are small oval-shaped beans, pale pink in color, also known by the Spanish name Habichuelas Rosadas. The most famous pink bean is the Santa Maria pinquito (spanglish = pink and small(ito)), which is commercially grown on the mesas above Santa Maria, California, and is a necessary ingredient in Santa Maria Tri-tip barbecue.
 Pinto or mottled beansSpanish: frijol pinto, literally "painted 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 used as green beans.
In the southwest United States, the pinto bean is an important symbol of regional identity, especially among Mexican Americans. Along with the chile/chilli, it is one of the official state vegetables of New Mexico (under the name frijol). The prepared beans are commonly known as frijoles. This type of bean is also referred to as "Cowboy Beans" in Texas, all along the Mexican border and wherever Mexican cowboys were employed. In areas where Mexican cowboys did not travel on the trails north from Texas, it was probably not known.
This is the bean most commonly used for refried beans (fresh or canned) and in many dishes at Tex-Mex restaurants. Rice and pinto beans served with cornbread or corn tortillas are often a staple meal where there is limited money for meat, as the combination of beans and corn creates all the protein amino acids needed in a meat substitute.  When it comes to making chili, if a bean is added, this is the one typically used, although the kidney bean, black bean, and many others may also be used in other locales (see below).
In the southeastern part of the United States, pinto beans were once a staple of the poor (usually eaten with cornbread, milk, and cabbage), especially during the winter months. Some churches in rural areas still sponsor "pinto bean suppers" for social gatherings and fund raisers.
Añana, a town and municipality located in the province of Álava, in the Basque Country of northern Spain. In October, "la Feria de la alubia pinta alavesa" (the fair of the Alubia pinta alavesa) is celebrated in Pobes.
Pinto bean varieties include:
 Red or kidney beans
|Kidney beans, raw |
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
|Energy 330 kcal 1390 kJ|
|Percentages are relative to US |
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
 Shell beansCornucopia lists 37 varieties of shell beans. The light green Flageolet bean is taken very seriously in France and soon the heirloom Chevrier will come under a controlled label reminiscent of the wine "Appellation d'Origine Controllée" called "Label Rouge". A number of other beans are already produced under this label.
Flageolet bean varieties include:
- Chevrier (the original heirloom)
 White beansBritain and the US, featured in such dishes as baked beans and even pies, as well as in various soups such as the famous Senate Bean Soup.
Navy bean varieties include:
- Great northern beans
- Rainy River
 Yellow beansSinaloa Azufrado, Sulphur, Mayocoba, and Peruano (also called Canary) are types of yellow beans.
Peruano beans (also called Canary 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).
 See also
- Azuki bean
- Bean - for other genera and species of beans
- List of common bean diseases
- Mung bean
- Pulse (legume)
- Broad bean
- ^ "Kidney Beans". The world's healthiest foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?pfriendly=1&tname=foodspice&dbid=87. Retrieved on 2007-11-05.
- ^ "Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook:Phytohaemagglutinin". United States Food and Drug Administration. http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/chap43.html. Retrieved on 2007-11-06.
- ^ Facciola, Stephen (1998). Cornucopia II : a source book of edible plants. Kampong Publications. ISBN 0962808725.
- ^ Choung MG, Choi BR, An YN, Chu YH, Cho YS. Anthocyanin profile of Korean cultivated kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Nov 19;51(24):7040-3. Retrieved 6 August 2006.
- ^ Sando, Steve; Barrington, Vanessa (2008). Heirloom Beans. Chronicle Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-0811860697.
- ^ Recetas para acordarse de sabores perdidos: "Añana. Es el origen de la alubia pinta alavesa y, como tal, esta legumbre pesa en su cocina. Ya sea en cocido, crema o sopa. El queso Idiazábal o el conejo son otros de sus manjares." (Spanish)
- ^ Algunas de las ferias tradicionales en Euskadi: "La Feria de la alubia pinta alavesa, que se celebra en octubre en la localidad de Pobes." (Spanish)
- ^ Senate Bean Soup
 External links
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Common bean|
- Fact sheet with nutritional information on pinto beans at WHFoods.org
- Introducing flageolet beans on the Multilingual Multiscript Plantname Database site.
- Lost Crops of the Incas, p 174 displays a popped seed of P. vulgaris nunas. (An extremely attractive color photograph by J. Kucharski featuring many cultivars can be found in Lost Crops of the Incas between p 192 & p 193, unfortunately not shown on web site).
- Plant lectins
- USAID fact sheet with nutritional information on black beans.
- USAID fact sheet with nutritional information on pinto beans.
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