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Old 03-05-2007, 10:48 AM   #1
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Butter Beans

A few weeks ago I was making a veggie stew and it called for beans. Since this was a - I'll call it a light colored - stew, I decided the only beans in the pantry were black and kidney they would make the stew ugly. I ran over to what passes for a grocery nearest to home and looked over the canned selection.

They had some Trappy's Butter beans so I bought them. As with most canned beans, they were over salted and nearly mussy, I used them anyhow and no one complained.

Now the point of this was to ask about Butter Beans. I saw some real goodness in those canned beans the canning not withstanding.

Wikipedia [
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima_bean ] says that the butter bean is a Lima. If it is a Lima what variety is it, How is it cooked in the simple {most basic} manner and lastly, is it really a southern dish.

After I learn how to make the basic I wish to then see where they can go.



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Old 03-05-2007, 11:40 AM   #2
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I grew up eating limas, and I'm from California, so I'm not sure if they're only southern, or just a southern influence.
Lima beans are in your frozen dept at the market, and they're ready to go - just heat up. I add a bit of butter and they're really tasty, I think.

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Old 03-05-2007, 11:40 AM   #3
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Robert, I love butter beans! They are an old fashioned lima pole bean, and you cook them just like you would any other bean, with onions and smoky meat such as a ham hock.
They are also great in baked beans!
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Old 03-05-2007, 12:11 PM   #4
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There is no botanical classification difference between lima beans and butter beans - they are both Phaseolus lunatus - although there are differences in varieties - some are bush plants and some are pole plants, and range in color and size. As a kid growing up in the South, if they were small, cooked fresh while they were still green they were limas - usually Fordhook or Henderson varities (what you normally in the frozen food section of the grocery as lima beans) . If they were the larger cream colored or speckled beans, or dried, they were called butter beans. When the dried beans are cooked, and they begin to break down, they develope a creamy buttery texture - like split peas do.

Are they a Southern thing? They seem to have originated somewhere around Guatamala and most varities seem to have been developed in the South. But, we do like them enough that we have a song about them, made popular by Little Jimmy Dickens ... The Butter Bean Song. Sung to the tune of the old gospel hymn "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" the main verse and chorus goes:

Just a bowl of butter beans
Pass the cornbread if you please
I don't want no collard greens
Just a bowl of butter beans ....

As for canned beans, Trappy's is probably one of the better choices, from my Southern perspective. Yeah, they are soft and on the "mushy" side - as they should be. Cooked from dried just like any other dried beans - with a ham bone, hocks or salt pork - cook until they begin to break down and get creamy ... add a little butter if you want, salt and pepper, serve with or over cornbread.
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Old 03-05-2007, 12:12 PM   #5
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I also love,love butter beans they have them in the dry bean section at the store they have small or large butter beans I like the large.Soak overnight drain rinse stick in a crock pot with water and add a smoked ham hock,some onions.I also like to add some celery and carrots.Add some garlic a pinch of thyme, and I like to add a liitle cumin add salt when beans are done.They are done when they are real soft and kinda thicken up the broth.Then when serving I personally like to add some shredded cheddar to it in my bowl.Oh Yea I almost forgot take the ham hock out about 3/4s of the way let cool and take off meat then throw meat and bone back in.
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Old 03-05-2007, 12:20 PM   #6
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I have grown and eaten these beans all of my life...In the my area they are called "butter beans" maybe other areas as well. Also they are called "Lima" Beans..Some people argue they are two distinct different beans. To me they are the same thing. Just different terminology for the same thing. Like many things there is no comparison to fresh from the garden to canned or frozen ones found in supermarkets. There are bush types, and pole types(vines supported by poles) and are many varieties of each. One very popular variety here is Carolina Sieva... it is a pole type.
When buying in a super market it is my opinion that the frozen ones are superior to the canned ones. Buy a top-of-the-line brand and they can be good! Cooking methods can vary from one area to another. Here in the south they are most commonly cooked(boiled)in salted water with, ham, bacon, ham hocks etc. Cooked long enough they produce a somewhat thick "pot-likker" that some people like serverd over fresh baked cornbread.
You can also find these beans in dry form in many areas..they take longer to cook and usually produce a thicker broth. The dry ones also have an "earthy" flavor as compared to the small green frozen ones.
Is it a southern dish?? It is sometimes associtated with the South but I believe the bean has a wide following all over. It is however a very popular bean dish served in homes and in "blue plate lunch" counters all across the south. Hope this helps!


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