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Why are lima beans so universally hated?

  • v

I'm doing a little bean research and was trying to discover why people so often say they hate lima beans. It's almost a cliche really (I hate phony, mean people, brussels sprouts, liver and lima beans). Seriously, I did a search online on why people hate lima beans and there's tons of references just like that, but nobody says WHY. I like lima beans so I have no idea. Any of you hounds know why the bad rap for the nice lima?

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  1. j
    Jim Washburn

    I can only speculate that most people who hate limas were first exposed to beans out of a can. Same for spinach, asparagus, etc. I had the good fortune to be born into a family in which fresh vegetables were preferred, and cans were opened only seldom. I have loved limas since I was a wee little kid.


    2 Replies
    1. re: Jim Washburn

      And many people have never experienced the silken deliciousness of dried baby lima beans....

      1. re: Jim Washburn

        I was thinking the same thing--and that canned limas were perhaps extremely terrible.

        Do you think that canned lima beans are worse than canned versions of other beans? I don't think canned kidney beans or chickpeas make people say they hate kidney beans and chickpeas.

      2. I don't know - I've always loved them, even as a child - perhaps the "haters" have had them overcooked.

        1. g
          gail o'connor

          I'm a lima bean hater.

          My mother, who has never been an enthusiastic cook, used to serve us frozen mixed vegetables at least once a week. Carrots, green beans, peas, corn, and lima beans. I didn't mind the other vegetables, but I hated the lima beans.

          For me, it's the texture. They're sort of grainy and dry on the tongue.

          3 Replies
          1. re: gail o'connor

            Yes yes exactly.. the texture and a bit of the taste though mostly the texture.

            Yech. Can't do the lima bean thing. Love brussel sprouts though :)

            1. re: gail o'connor

              i was served the same frozen vegetable medley.

              mealy is the term i've always used.

              1. re: gail o'connor

                Try dried baby lima beans (they are white, not green). When rehydrated and cooked properly (I love to make succotash with fresh corn with them), they have a silken texture and better flavor than frozen beans.

              2. n
                Niki Rothman

                I think I know why people hate lima beans. I honestly don't know what tense, busy parents are serving their kids for dinner these days (KFC?), but when I was a kid the vegetable side dishes at dinner all came straight out of a can or little square freezer box. They were just plain boiled until over-cooked and repulsively inedible. Prepared this way lima beans are the vegetable from hell. In the canned form they even have a kind of unique metallic aftertaste.

                It's really too bad. Lima beans, and their big brother butter beans, can be really wonderful when slow cooked with meats, onions and garlic, or when included in a thick vegetable soup. But when I was a kid, and I suspect for a lot of other people who profess to hate lima beans, it's a matter of post traumatic stress disorder. When you think about lima beans it's not images of unctuous meaty/beany cassoulet that spring to mind, but rather boiled, tinny, canned lima beans enmeshed with memories of working mom's rushed, tense weeknight dinners from your childhood.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Niki Rothman

                  Yup. Nasty overcooked boiled frozen limas. Had to choke them down. I'd probably like fresh ones now, but I never see them. Love them dried. Baby frozen are OK in stews and such.

                  1. re: Aromatherapy

                    Fresh limas, which I've only had once -- from my CSA last summer, are truly truly the best thing I have ever eaten. The husband and I fought over them they were so good.

                2. I think for a lot of people, it comes from the frozen vegetable mixes that featured green beans, peas, carrots, corn, and lima beans. The first four all cook in about the same amount of time, but the lima beans, to be really good, need to cook a little longer. Hence, when all the other veggies were cooked just right, the limas would be undercooked.

                  1. Veebee, Here's an experiment. Go to a Whole Foods and stand in middle of the produce section. You'll be surrounded by an amazing bounty of options including exotic Asian ingredients. Then ask the first few people you meet their opinion of Lima beans. I think the general response will be: "Why bother?"

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Leper

                      See, I completely disagree with this - I love all sorts of vegetables, but I would choose my lima beans over ANY asian veg I have ever tasted.

                    2. I completely agree with the folks below who suggested that it was because of the cooking methods that their parents used. We all adore limas, but I think they have to be cooked long and slow - they should be creamy and NOT dry - I usually add a little half and half to finish them with the butter/salt/pepper. I suspect that it's the same with brussels sprouts - Mr. Kim hated them until he tasted mine. Most people just boil them to death like cabbage and they are oddly stinky and tasteless at the same time! Now they are one of his favorite vegetables.

                      1. I LOVE Butter Beans and Lima Beans and could live off them.

                        I'll cook a pound with about 4 chicken bullion cubes, a slice of fatback, and a chopped up Vidalia onion.

                        They are one of my favorite foods especially with meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy.

                        Good golly.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: BlueHerons
                          Jim Washburn

                          Amen! I wouldn't think of cooking them without salt pork. Onion sometimes, but not necessary. Keep them wet by adding boiling water to the pot if needed. When the beans are gone I finish every drop of the liquor either by sopping with bread or drinking straight from the pot. I love vegetables and eat a wide variety including lots of Asian ones, but I don't think I could face a life without limas and butter beans.


                        2. Hi, my name is Gusman and I hate lima beans!

                          I'll take it a step further (or pehaps three!) and confess to hating ALL beans of that type. Lima beans, pinto beans, butter beans, boston baked beans... well, you get the picture. I love green beans and wax beans though... go figure. I have a similar aversion to peas.

                          I'm sure it's a combination of texture and severe childhood vegetative trauma (we had B&M baked beans with hotdogs *every* saturday night! I shudder even thinking about it!).

                          I'm certainly not picky about vegetables in general, as I cannot think of any other vegetables that I don't like.

                          Oh well... I never claimed to be normal!


                          1. I suppose my mother served me frozen or canned lima beans, either alone or in succotash. Nasty stuff - grainy, mushy, completely tasteless - a waste of eating energy. And we had to eat everything on our plate, so I forced them down.

                            Now, even though I'm much, much older and (supposedly) wiser, you'd still have to threaten my life or, at the very least, twist my arm in order to get me to taste another one. And, yes, I've heard folks extoll the virtues of fresh lima beans with bacon and onions and who knows what all else. I ain't buyin' it. There are very few foods I just won't eat and lima beans are high on that list.

                            1. I love lima beans -- when we drive to the Delaware beaches and stop for lunch in Bridgeville I always get a side of limas.

                              I now love brussel sprouts after hating them as a kid. Our local asian market always has fresh brussel sprouts and they are delicious.

                              Liver I do hate (other than chopped liver of course).

                              1. As other people have said along similar lines:

                                There is just something about their taste that is revolting to people at a young age and it's made worse by their parents who force their kids to eat them against their will producing emotional scars which may never heal!

                                Didn't President Bush the Elder say something like, "I'm Presdient of the United States and I don't have to eat Broccoli if I don't want to!"

                                How often do you see Lima Beans anywhere on a Restaurant menu?

                                I can't even think of one, but there has to be a Lima Bean Sanctuary out there somewhere, isn't there?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: JBC

                                  While I don't see lima beans on too many restaurant menus, I often see fava beans, when in season. In my mind, (I've never even considered eating fava beans either!) they are just smaller lima beans waiting to unleash their smooshie textural hell upon the masses!

                                  Hell, if Hannibal Lecter likes them, isn't that a good enough reason to avoid them???

                                  :^) :^)


                                  1. re: JBC

                                    I've had really good lima beans in various forms at LUCQUES here in Los Angeles, both in appetizer form (lima bean puree with bruschetta; chopped salad with fava beans and cherry tomatoes) and in entrees (wild salmon and grilled halibut).

                                    1. re: ipse dixit

                                      After reviewing several menus, I did finally find Fava Beans on Sunnin's, a lebanese cafe in L.A., that read as follows;

                                      FOUL - Fava beans with garlic, lemon, olive oil and spices ...$4.50.

                                      Now why do you think they called it that?

                                      True story!

                                      1. re: JBC

                                        "Foul" (pronounced "fool") Medammas is an Arabic term for fava beans served w/lemon juice, salt, garlic and olive oil.

                                  2. Weirdly enough, lima beans were one of my favorite vegetables when I was a little kid (I was also fond of liver and spinach, too--I was a strange kid!)

                                    My mom wasn't much of a cook back then, so the only kind of limas we had were the frozen ones, cooked up and tossed with butter. Saturated fat, of course, improves all vegetables (as a couple of salt-pork-and-lima-fans have observed). And to Mom's credit, she never overcooked the things, so their texture and appearance was always agreeable.

                                    The OP makes me realize that I haven't tasted a lima bean in decades, nor have I ever seen them fresh in stores or on restaurant menus.
                                    But maybe someday they'll become hip again, just as formerly unfashionable items like martinis, red meat, and lounge music have...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Hungry1

                                      Hungry1, Can Disco and lima been reduction puree with deconstructed onions be far behind?

                                    2. I don't know the answer to your question "Why are lima beans so universally hated?" but I do know that youngsters absorb food "vibes" from everyone around them. If mom or dad makes snide remarks about lima beans - or any other food - you can bet that Jr. hears and internalizes it. "If big, strong dad or wise, kind mom hates them, they must be pretty awful" he thinks and, often, it is game, set and match. Adios Lima Beans for another generation. Of course, lousy preparation assists this cliche. Someone who believes he/she doesn't like a food isn't going to go out of their way to seek deliciousness for that food.

                                      I recommend that the CH legions of Lima Bean Haters follow Frank Stitt's recommendations in his marvelous book, SOUTHERN TABLE. He'll make your mouth water reading praise of summer's bean bounty.

                                      Particularly in the southern United States, fresh beans are available and delicious. Granted, they're a bit of a pain to shell, but sitting on the porch during an afternoon rain squall shelling beans somehow connects you to past generations doing exactly the same thing. A bit of fatty pork (Smithfield is perfect), some onions/garlic/red pepper cooked with these fresh limas and you've got what a friend used to call "Paradise on a plate".

                                      Fresh limas bear as much resemblance to the canned product as fresh spinach does to what Popeye used to pop in his mouth!

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Sherri
                                        Amuse Bouches

                                        Maybe, but I can say that my parents hate beets, lima beans, bell peppers, and brussels sprouts. And I love all of the above. I never even tasted them as a child, but once I became an adult who cooked for myself, I discovered the wonderful world of succotash, and the joys of roasted brussels sprouts. Now I make my parents eat brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving and succotash at summer barbecues whether they want to or not.

                                        I do think that lima beans and brussels sprouts are particularly prone to poor preparation, making them taste bitter.

                                        They, however, love cucumbers, which I can't stand.

                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                          "Now I make my parents eat brussels sprouts at Thanksgiving and succotash at summer barbecues whether they want to or not."

                                          LOL! Nice payback for them making you eat things you didn't like as a child. ;-)

                                          1. re: Linda W.

                                            That is too funny! I have to try that on the parents. Does anybody remember the creamed limas or the yellow string beans fixed the same way? That was a standard of my grandmother with chicken and potatoes.

                                        2. re: Sherri

                                          Anything from the Frank Stitt Southern Table book is wonderful. My DH and I cannot get enough lima beans, fresh, frozen or canned. My parents called me Miss Lima Beans as a little bitty kid.

                                        3. I like them - alot.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ipse dixit
                                            quiz wrangler

                                            Love lima beans - and miss the farmers market vendor who sold fresh ones.

                                            1. re: quiz wrangler

                                              Grow your own! Favas are really hardy and sprout in just about any type of soil.

                                          2. Because they taste HORRIBLE!

                                            Albus Dumbledore said it best:

                                            "Ah, Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. I was most unfortunate in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one and since then, I'm afraid, I've lost my liking for them. But I think I could be safe with a nice toffee..."
                                            (Selects and eats a bean)
                                            "Alas. Ear wax."

                                            He probably grabbed a Lima bean by mistake.;)

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: cf

                                              How did Dumbledore know what ear wax tasted like in order to identify the bean flavor?

                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                I imagine it was one of the flavors listed on the box. Once you taste one you can begin to eliminate peppermint, grass, sardine, strawberry etc...

                                                A good point though.

                                            2. What I wonder is why lima beans became universal in the first place?
                                              Given that there are about a million varieties of beans, why was this
                                              particular variety of Peruvian bean singled out to beccome the
                                              stereotypical American frozen bean side dish?

                                              1. Lima beans: The vegetable world's equivalent to brazil nuts.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ricepad

                                                  hmmm? does that mean you love them? or hate them? or that you think people either love them or hate them?

                                                  (personally, I love both lima beans *and* Brazil nuts....)

                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                    ah, brazil nuts....how to crack them and get the meat out WHOLE! Almost a shame to eat such a prize....but that wonderful coconutty flavor, and the unusual texture. Heaven!

                                                2. I was surprised at the question, and I'm positively flabbergasted at the responses: I can't think of anyone I've ever known who dislikes lima beans, nor has it ever occurred to me that anyone might, except of course for the fact that someone, somewhere hates anything you could name. Even ice cream. I'm not terribly fond of the adult ones, though dried butterbeans with ham hocks are pretty damn good, but the babies are something we dearly love, especially in succotash.

                                                  Learn something new every day on this list...!

                                                  1. I dunno...I LOVE limas...and brussels sprouts...and liver of the poultry variety.

                                                    1. We love 'em! I recently purchased some organic dried white baby limas online from Purcell Mountain Farms. Simply cooked with some diced onions, garlic, a little olive oil, s & p & parsley--silky & delicious. What's not to like?

                                                      1. I HATE them and have since childhood. My mother is a very good cook but I just can't stand the texture or smell. I live in the south and get fresh butterbeans, but I can hardly stand to fix them for my family. Same with green peas. Almost every other food I adore. The first time I went to dinner at my future in-laws they served...lima beans. Thought I would die! Had to choke them down though.

                                                        1. I think it's the texture

                                                          1. Until this thread I didn't even know Lima beans were 'universally hated'. They were always a favorite of mine as a child, and I was a bit of a picky eater. I love them with just a bit of butter.

                                                            1. This has always mystified me too!! They're the only food (besides beef liver) that I've consistently abhorred since childhood.

                                                              The weird thing is, I LOVE most beans and legumes - fava, garbanzo, green peas, lentils, navy, kidney, black-eyed peas, etc, etc.

                                                              1. l

                                                                Think of a four letter word that begins with "F."

                                                                I swear I thought I found the answer to the Global Energy Crisis the first time I tried digesting those evil things.

                                                                Link: http://www.freedomyou.com/recipes/bea...

                                                                1. I hate lima beans because my Father insisted that I eat them when I was a small child! I really like all kinds of beans including butterbeans (dry) but I won't eat fresh lima beans to this day...