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Nov 15, 2006 01:31 AM

what's the diff between dried beans and which are good for what?

Hey all, is there any rule of thumb for dried beans? xxx beans are good for Mexican food, yyy beans are good for purees, zzz beans are good when you're in a hurry, whatever?

Or is there a difference depending on the size? Like the smallest ones are good for aaa and the biggest ones are good for bbb?

I've found dried favas (new to me), what would make them shine?

I'm a gal who likes a side-by-side taste comparison and so far I haven't done a bean-off. Appreciate any and all tips!

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  1. Lentils are good when you're in a hurry as they don't need soaking.

    1. check out:

      I like to keep it simple black beans simmered with garlic, red onion and it ABSOLUTELY must have epazote ---so good! I could eat tortillas guac and black beans for the rest of my life and be happy.

      1. This a good question and I'm looking forward to responses. Recently I've been using canned beans. I'm of the rinse the goop off and use a chicken broth crowd.

        My favorite is the S&W Premium White Bean. They are small and can be used in a number of ways. Sweet with brown sugar, maple surup, Steens etc., etc., ... or savory (meaning less sweet).

        I was looking at about 6 types of dried beans yesterday and had the same question you have. At my local farmers market (Sacramento CA) there is a producer who is showing up with "heirloom beans" Anazi is one of them. A tasting is a good idea but not cheap with these guys.

        Another favorite is fresh frozen beans. I find limas and blackeye peas here. But your question is what to use for what? I just do it by the seat of my pants. That, in my case, gives me quite a bit of latitude! :-)

        Again, I'm looking forward to hound cooks input.


        1. for the perfect bean, studied exhaustively, the most entertaining source would be jeffery steingarten's article on the fiasco published in vogue earlier this year. i found the article reprinted online here

          1 Reply
          1. re: bothrops_asper

            Thank you so much for posting this link! A ton of useful information and funny, as well.

          2. Never thought about rules of thumbs but dried beans are so interesting. Usually they just look pretty in jars on my kitchen counter.

            I see you are in the Bay Area. That Rancho Gordo link is great and if you can get to the Farmers Markets at Ferry Plaza or Marin you can chat with Rancho Gordo who is very enthusiastic and knowledgable about Mexican beans.

            Also, you must drive down to Pescadero and stop by Phipps Ranch and check out the many, many, many heirloom beans. They even have a recipe for those dried fava beans of yours on the site.

            Chatting with farmers at farmers markets will give you great ideas on how to use dried beans.

            I always like Cooks Thesaurus for basic descriptions of food with pictures. Here's the dried bean page