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"Best " White Beans: Tarbais?, Cannelini?, Great Northern?

opinionatedchef Jul 11, 2011 04:56 PM

Has anyone compared these 3 beans, cooked?Any final preference? I guess 'best' for me would be creamier and more flavorful/ meatier. i have not cooked tarbais but i have preferred Great Northern over cannelini when i've compared them. I generally prepare white beans as a side dish, as a spread, or in cassoulet/stews. I am willing to splurge when taste warrants it (i.e. anson mills grits over others) and I have experimented a bit with heritage beans (rancho gordo) but often my best intentions turn into beans that hang out way too long to be fairly judged when cooked. thanks much.

  1. jmcarthur8 Jul 13, 2011 01:49 PM

    My vote is for White Acre peas that I find now and then here in Georgia, canned by Margaret Holmes. They are smaller than Great Northerns and have a little more body to them.

    1. paulj Jul 13, 2011 12:54 PM

      Another candidate: peruano (or mayocoba) beans.

      2 Replies
      1. re: paulj
        opinionatedchef Jul 13, 2011 09:38 PM

        gee paul, aren't you going to tell us about them? what do they taste like; how do they compare w/ those mentioned; where have you been able to find them,etc?

        1. re: opinionatedchef
          paulj Jul 14, 2011 06:59 PM

          is rancho gordo's page for mayocoba, though I've been buying them locally less the $1.50/lb.

          It's a light yellow bean, that's been popular in Mexico for some 30 years, though archaeologists have some found something similar in Peru. We haven't seen it in the USA until recently because of a patent dispute.

      2. Tripeler Jul 12, 2011 09:33 PM

        I really like Great Northern beans if they are the very small ones.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tripeler
          FoodFuser Jul 13, 2011 11:01 PM

          Great Northerns have served me well, over the decades.
          Inexpensive, versatile, easily available.
          They keep me full and the flatulence is manageable.

        2. s
          Suzanne Jul 12, 2011 07:06 PM

          The best white beans I've had in my life were white runner cannellini beans from Rancho Gordo. Though they are not cannellini beans. But they are white :) The flavor is so naturally good that I ate them from the pot without a speck of seasoning. Tasted like baked potatoes. My second favorite would be gigantes beans for texture and flavor.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Suzanne
            opinionatedchef Jul 12, 2011 08:11 PM

            suzanne, ya got my attention here, but i'm a bit confused.They're called white runner cannelini beans but they're NOT cannelini beans? or did you mean they're not TARBAIS?

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              Suzanne Jul 15, 2011 07:44 PM

              They are different varieties of beans. I think the only thing they have in common is they are both white, lol.

              Cannelini beans are Phaseolus vulgaris
              White Runner Cannellini beans are Phaseolus coccineus

              Cannellini beans are small, while White Runner Cannellini beans are very large.

              Cannellini beans are annual plants, while the runners are perennials.

              If you haven't tried white runner cannellini beans, you should definitely go for it! They are unbelievably good :)

          2. Delucacheesemonger Jul 12, 2011 11:27 AM

            For me Haricot de Tarbais are the golden fleece of beans. As s842 said, velvety is the perfect description, plus they crust wonderfully on top of long baked dishes. They are expensive. Bought them at a farm stand in Tarbes and cost me 9 euros/kg, about $6/lb. Also would use them within 12-18 months of purchase as tend to dry out and not be as creamy if held too long.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger
              sunshine842 Jul 13, 2011 01:47 PM

              (*snap* - -sorry, just echoed this post upthread)

            2. n
              NOLA_Pam Jul 11, 2011 06:35 PM

              It depends on the style of cooking and the result I want, Italian, that would be cannelloni: southern style would be the giant white limas; soup would be the white northern. .Beans for the purpose. They are all good.

              1. w
                wattacetti Jul 11, 2011 06:20 PM

                Tarbais. Not only do they taste great, they're tender and they hold together in their skins.

                1. Karl S Jul 11, 2011 05:30 PM

                  I tend to prefer thin-skinned beans (I like molasses- or yellow-eye beans for making baked beans, for example). I believe of those three, Tarbais has the most delicate skin.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Karl S
                    opinionatedchef Jul 12, 2011 12:21 AM

                    karl et al, are tarbais only grown in France? you buy them $$ prepackaged in dean and deluca type shops? th much.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                      sunshine842 Jul 12, 2011 01:24 AM

                      Sort of.

                      "Tarbais" officially refers to beans grown in the region around Tarbe in southwestern France. They're trying to put an AOP or AOC in place that will supposedly protect the name so that no one else can use it.

                      In reality, plenty of other growers use the term...and Tarbais beans make an incredibly velvety and luscious cassoulet (which is what they're grown for) -- but as above, it all depends on what you're using them for as to what the best bean is (and yes, great northern beans make a fine cassoulet -- not as velvety, but very good)

                      1. re: sunshine842
                        opinionatedchef Jul 12, 2011 11:12 AM

                        my googling so far has only turned up imported tarbais at $11-$16 lb.!!!!!!!! peasant food in one land is hedge fund food in another!

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          sunshine842 Jul 13, 2011 01:46 PM

                          they're not peasant food any more, even in France -- I paid 12 euros for a kilo (2-1/4 pounds) a few months ago -- that's about $6 a pound, even right from the producer.

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