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Jul 12, 2010 06:09 PM

Cannelini vs. Great Northern beans

I know they aren't the same, but what is the difference in flavor and texture?

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  1. Personally, I love beans and cook them a lot but I don't think there's a tremendous difference. That said, I always use Great Northerns for baked beans and cannelini when it's something Italian.

    I think you could say that there's a lower ratio of skins to bean pulp in cannelinis but that's about all I can think of. They're both delicious and easy to cook and couk with.

    6 Replies
    1. re: rainey

      Where do you find dried cannelini beans? I saw them for over $5/pound from Rancho Gordo, but I don't think they're worth that much. I've never been able to find them.

      1. re: John E.

        Some grocery stores in Los Angeles stock them but I have to keep my eyes peeled for them. Short of that, Italian delis and grocery stores usually have a treasure trove of things including cannelinis and borlottis.

        I have ordered from Rancho Gordo and have enjoyed everything I've gotten. I'm also happy to support anything that supports independent farmers and agricultural diversity. Still, a dried bean is a dried bean and I don't see cannelinis in any grave danger of extinction and I haven't found Rancho Gordo beans greatly superior to what I can get more easily.

        1. re: rainey

          Rancho Gordo only has Runner Cannellini, a different bean altogether.

        2. re: John E.

          I know there was a severe shortage of them some time in in the last year. We couldn't find them for months in our usual spot, but they're back. We get them from the bulk food section of our food co-op.

          1. re: John E.

            I buy cannellini in Whole Foods' bulk section.

            1. re: Jay F

              Yeah, most any good-sized Whole Foods or co-op should have them in the bulk section.

        3. Here's a pretty good summary:

          Personally, I find great northerns very grainy and thick skinned compared to cannelini and don't care for them. If you've ever tasted pink kidney beans, canellini are very similar, except for the color.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Zeldog

            That was a good run down. I agree with it that of the white beans, cannelini do have a creaminess that makes them lovely used cold in salads.

            Personally, I don't bother with Navy beans at all because they have the highest ratio of skin to bean. I would never choose them for baked beans but they are what are used in canned baked beans. For me, the Great Northern or a yellow eye provides more to bite into.

          2. I've come to the point where I prefer Peruvian/Canary/Mayo Coba beans to either of the above. They are more creamy than Cannellini. They are a bit more expensive and harder to find. Look for them in Hispanic markets.

            2 Replies
            1. re: OnkleWillie

              I think you might be right. Last winter I was in Phoenix and bought a couple of pounds of the Peruvian yellow beans for $1.49/lb. I wish I bought more. (Pro's Ranch Market)

              1. re: OnkleWillie

                Henry's Markets carry the Peruanos in their bulk section in the SoCal area. They are nice. Cannelinis are prettier for a cold salad like tuna with a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette and Italian herbs, for example.

              2. Well, I don't cook with beans a lot. When I do it is, primarily, to cook what I call ham hocks and beans. You northern folks can call it ham and bean soup. I use great northerns because I always have.

                I know a lot of you will disagree but I don't want my beans whole and individual. I want some of them to break up and create a creamy broth. I have even been know to whir a cup of beans and put them back into the pot to get that creamy broth.

                I will sometimes use canned cannelinis when I don't want to cook beans for 2 hours.

                1. Up here in the frozen north known as Canada, cannelini beans are called white kidney beans. They're found on the shelf beside the red kidney beans and cost the same. We had a pot of smoked ham hock (from my own smoker:) last night and it was near heaven. Today I have added some hot Italian sausage just to stretch it a bit and to change the meat component - my hocks were split by the butcher and didn't go very far. This soup/stew is one of our standard winter fares and sits in the garage between heatings - being added to as needed.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: slacker1

                    That's how the canned ones are labeled at Trade Joes

                    1. re: slacker1

                      Thank goodness it's still not cold enough in MInnesota to use the garage as a refrigerator or freezer. That option is really the only reason to stay here all winter long. (Although once a few years ago I put a big pot of chili in a tool shed in Mesa Arizona because it was cold enough, darn it).

                      I recently cooked 4 pig's trotters and made head cheese for my father. He also loves the hocks with beans or sometimes soutkraut. I prefer the beans. It's really just a version of cassoulet anyway.