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Why are lima beans so universally hated?

veebee May 3, 2006 01:42 AM

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 RE: veebee May 3, 2006 01:52 AM

    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
      Karl S RE: Jim Washburn May 3, 2006 04:50 AM

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

      1. re: Jim Washburn
        veebee RE: Jim Washburn May 3, 2006 09:41 AM

        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. m
        MMRuth RE: veebee May 3, 2006 07:49 AM

        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 RE: veebee May 3, 2006 09:40 AM

          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
            PenskeFan RE: gail o'connor May 3, 2006 09:50 AM

            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
              margaret RE: gail o'connor May 3, 2006 10:45 AM

              i was served the same frozen vegetable medley.

              mealy is the term i've always used.

              1. re: gail o'connor
                Karl S RE: gail o'connor May 3, 2006 11:19 AM

                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 RE: veebee May 3, 2006 10:23 AM

                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
                  Aromatherapy RE: Niki Rothman May 3, 2006 10:34 AM

                  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
                    ElBee RE: Aromatherapy May 5, 2006 10:16 PM

                    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. r
                  ricepad RE: veebee May 3, 2006 10:25 AM

                  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. l
                    Leper RE: veebee May 3, 2006 10:34 AM

                    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
                      kim shook RE: Leper May 3, 2006 10:36 AM

                      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. k
                      kim shook RE: veebee May 3, 2006 10:35 AM

                      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. b
                        BlueHerons RE: veebee May 3, 2006 10:48 AM

                        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 RE: BlueHerons May 3, 2006 11:50 AM

                          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. g
                          Gusman RE: veebee May 3, 2006 11:02 AM

                          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. d
                            Deenso RE: veebee May 3, 2006 11:06 AM

                            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. b
                              Bob W. RE: veebee May 3, 2006 11:32 AM

                              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. j
                                JBC RE: veebee May 3, 2006 11:40 AM

                                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
                                  Gusman RE: JBC May 3, 2006 12:30 PM

                                  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
                                    ipse dixit RE: JBC May 3, 2006 05:55 PM

                                    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
                                      JBC RE: ipse dixit May 4, 2006 06:21 PM

                                      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
                                        LisaM RE: JBC May 4, 2006 09:26 PM

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

                                  2. h
                                    Hungry1 RE: veebee May 3, 2006 12:26 PM

                                    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
                                      Leper RE: Hungry1 May 3, 2006 01:49 PM

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

                                    2. s
                                      Sherri RE: veebee May 3, 2006 12:54 PM

                                      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 RE: Sherri May 3, 2006 06:00 PM

                                        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
                                          Linda W. RE: Amuse Bouches May 4, 2006 01:30 PM

                                          "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.
                                            Tbird RE: Linda W. May 6, 2006 12:03 PM

                                            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
                                          Candy RE: Sherri May 3, 2006 07:15 PM

                                          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
                                          ipse dixit RE: veebee May 3, 2006 01:14 PM

                                          I like them - alot.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: ipse dixit
                                            quiz wrangler RE: ipse dixit May 3, 2006 03:45 PM

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

                                            1. re: quiz wrangler
                                              ipse dixit RE: quiz wrangler May 3, 2006 05:59 PM

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

                                          2. c
                                            cf RE: veebee May 3, 2006 01:30 PM

                                            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
                                              ricepad RE: cf May 3, 2006 02:04 PM

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

                                              1. re: ricepad
                                                cf RE: ricepad May 3, 2006 02:12 PM

                                                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. j
                                              Jef RE: veebee May 3, 2006 01:53 PM

                                              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. r
                                                ricepad RE: veebee May 3, 2006 02:05 PM

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

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: ricepad
                                                  susancinsf RE: ricepad May 3, 2006 06:52 PM

                                                  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
                                                    toodie jane RE: susancinsf May 7, 2006 07:15 PM

                                                    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. w
                                                  Will Owen RE: veebee May 3, 2006 04:46 PM

                                                  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. l
                                                    LT from LF RE: veebee May 3, 2006 05:34 PM

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

                                                    1. b
                                                      Babette RE: veebee May 3, 2006 08:01 PM

                                                      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. s
                                                        Susan RE: veebee May 3, 2006 08:02 PM

                                                        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. w
                                                          Wile RE: veebee May 3, 2006 10:15 PM

                                                          I think it's the texture

                                                          1. l
                                                            Liz CT RE: veebee May 4, 2006 06:46 AM

                                                            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. l
                                                              LisaM RE: veebee May 4, 2006 09:18 AM

                                                              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
                                                                Like-Go-Eat? RE: veebee May 5, 2006 07:33 PM

                                                                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. r
                                                                  RWCFoodie RE: veebee May 5, 2006 08:13 PM

                                                                  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...

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