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Default Beans?

In my home state of Texas whenever somebody says they are fixin' a pot o' beans you can be darned sure they'll be pintos. I'm given to understand, however, that that's not the case across the whole US of A.

So what about where you live and/or grew up? What were and are the default beans?

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  1. Beans generally meant white northern here in Maryland. Just glad to have variety now.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Terrie H.

      We didn't have a big pot of beans here, come to think of it. It was a ham and bean soup.

    2. Pintos or Navy, ham Hocks standard.Dad from Texas, Mom from Kansas and grew up in KC.

      1. That definitely meant either pinto or black beans for me growing up in Southern California (at least, for my family and friends). I'm not quite sure what the default bean is here in the Midwest, but I'd certainly be interested to hear other's insights.

        1. Prolly Red or Kidney....Then again they might mean...Green or Butter.......

          1. I'm from and currently live in the midwest... White Navy or Great Northern are assumed if you say beans. When you say that you're making beans it means this soupy kind of bean dish with ham and is always served with cornbread on the side. That could be more specific to my family, although at church dinners, especially those that are fundraisers, "beans" on the menu means this ham and bean dish. Baked beans are made with navy beans, as well.

            10 Replies
            1. re: velochic

              Sounds like the further north and east you go, the more likely you are to strike navy beans. I wonder what beans Southerners--New Orleans excepted--tend to chuff.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                Pea beans in parts of New England

              2. re: velochic

                ham and beans and cornbread -- you're in Indiana.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      Yup, the only other kind I ever had was limas and kidney. Kidney beans were standard for "chili" (in quotes because Mom's was basically hamburger and tomato soup) or "goulash" (even less authentic). Small limas we had fresh from Grandpa Owen's garden, while the big butter beans were always from cans, as were the kidneys. The Air Force took me west and kept me there, and the beans became pintos, mostly.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        My maiden name is a derivation of your surname -- and with your description of Mom's chili as "in quotes because Mom's was basically hamburger and tomato soup" -- are you sure you're not my long-lost brother? My mom's "chili" is tomato juice, browned hamburger, a can of kidney beans, chopped onions, and broken spaghetti. Yes, spaghetti. Then dump some chili powder in it until it tastes kinda like chili.

                        I never make it that way, but when I'm home, I confess it tastes pretty good, even if it's not really chili

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          You poor dear. I wish I could airmail you some of my own special recipe chili.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            Don't worry -- in ancient times, I was married to a native Texan. I've got chili covered.

                1. Up here in the Canadian Prairies, beans are just not very common-- unless we're talking about beans canned in sauce. : ( But in my kitchen, I use black or garbanzo beans by default.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Canuckette1

                    No beans in Canada? What do you guys eat up there for your 9 months of Winter? :)

                    1. re: bbqboy

                      Maybe not in those parts - but further east (particularly Quebec) there's lots of split pea soup with ham and baked beans made with maple syrup!

                      1. re: bbqboy

                        In Vancouver it is widely eclectic with the large ethnic communities. You'll literally find every bean imaginable here. Growing up, so about 39-ish years ago, I'd say kidney were probably the go to for most people I knew, mostly for chili, soup etc. Now I'd say Chick Peas (garbanzos) have a huge popularity.

                        Sorry to be so vague, but ask 100 Vancouverites that question and you could get 20 different answers, easy.

                      2. re: Canuckette1

                        I grew up on the Minnesota prairie and 'beans' usually meant a can of ham n beans. Now I make spicy black beans, bean soup, refried beans, blackeyed peas with ham and other bean dishes. I kind of like the yellow Mayacoba Peruvian beans lately.

                      3. As a one who grew up in a Southern kitchen it's baby limas stewed for about three hours with a couple of big diced onions and a smoked ham hock as a soup, topped with chives or green onion and a few drops of vinegar.

                        Other times it's black-eyed-peas done the same way but with lots of red pepper flakes.

                        Both of those touch my heart.

                        1. I was raised by Okies in Northern California. "Beans" means pinto beans, of course, but also great northern/navy beans also. They are a wonderful thing, beans. These days I like the very small poquito beans from the central coast area.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Tripeler

                            Pinquito, I think. When our niece was going to UCSB, she'd come visit and bring a bag of the Santa Maria pinquitos with the herbs-and-spices packet enclosed, of which I learned to use about half. I just cooked the last bag a couple of weeks ago, which we ate with fried cheesy polenta and braised black kale. Killer combo!

                          2. Florida, especially from about Tampa south, defaults to black beans, cooked with onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chorizo, Cuban-style, and served over white rice.

                            Black-eyed peas or crowder peas would probably be the runner-up.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I was raised in the Tampa bay area and could have written this word for word!

                              1. re: meatn3

                                lived there for 25 years, my family is still there, and still consider it home. (and on the last visit home, pretty sure I ate enough Cuban food to alter my DNA)

                                1. re: sunshine842

                                  We moved there in '61. I've been away for 16 years, with some shorter moves before.
                                  I have most of my family there so visit frequently. Cuban and smoked mullet are my "must eats" along with a trip to Parksdale for strawberry shortcake if I can time it right! So many changes that it no longer feels like "home" except for people and food!

                                  The other bean that showed up with frequency in our bowls was the white bean in caldo gallego - a small navy bean perhaps. Once in a while I've had this soup served with garbanzo beans too.

                                  1. re: meatn3

                                    or a strawberry milkshake, or both. Manna of the gods. Roy passed away a few years ago, but his boys are carrying on.

                                2. re: meatn3

                                  Same here. Just had a bunch of friends over from out of town and black beans and rice was part of the menu. Minus the chorizo as my wife and some guest don't eat pig

                                3. re: sunshine842

                                  Yup those are pretty much the only beans I ever eat

                                4. I'm from the Midwest too. My parents are both from Wisconsin, and I grew up in four different Great Lakes states. In my extended family, I don't recall any default bean, assuming you mean some kind of dried, "pot of beans" type bean. We had canned baked beans (usually B&M or similar, not those awful tomatoey pork and beans), and kidney beans in chili, and I recall that once or twice maybe, my mom made "homemade baked beans" probably with navy, but that was a very rare thing. Now I've lived in Ohio FAR long enough to be familiar with bean soup, or "soup beans" with ham or ham hocks, and cornbread, but it didn't come from my family. I don't recall grandmothers or aunts or anyone making such things either. Oh, they could cook plenty of things, and well, but no beans or any regularity. Split pea soup is the closest thing I can recall.

                                  1. Growing up in the Northwest., which is part of Greater Scandinavia, the default legume meal was split pea soup.

                                    1. We have a silly little ritual at my house when it comes to beans. For example, I love red beans with leftover meat from a cooked ham. Mr. R prefers big limas with smoked hocks. So we alternate. The meal always includes rice, cornbread (sweet) and chopped or sliced onions.

                                      I prefer great northerns for bean soup.

                                      I love a bean thread too because I can ask my same worn out question again. Does anyone have a recipe for baked Lima Beans like the Amish make? It is almost like a barbq taste but is sweet. There is also bacon in it. The limas are large limas.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Robinez

                                        I found this one which looks reasonable. Other on the internet use a pound of brown sugar plus some molasses. I would add some molasses to the below recipe which I have never cooked
                                        BAKED LIMA BEANS
                                        2 cups dried limas
                                        4 slices bacon or salt pork
                                        1 medium onion
                                        1 green pepper
                                        1 cup canned tomatoes
                                        2 tsp. salt
                                        1 tsp. mustard
                                        2 tblsp. brown sugar
                                        Soak beans overnight in cold water. Drain, add 2 quarts of fresh water and boil until tender. Pour beans in buttered casserole. Add minced pepper, onion, tomatoes and seasoning and mix. Put bacon or salt pork on top and bake, covered. Add water if necessary. Bake 2 hours at (325-f). Uncover for the last 20 minutes.

                                        1. re: zzDan

                                          I forgot the bacon! This is it! I may bump it up a bit from 2 TB brown sugar, may depend on dark brown or light. All the ingredients are here, though.

                                          Thank You so much, zzDan. I have been searching for this forever.

                                          TC, Robin

                                          1. re: Robinez

                                            You are welcome. Look at this one which goes overboard with the brown sugar and also includes molasses. From Mount Joy Mennonite Church cookbook, which is in Lancaster County. http://www.matchdoctor.com/thread_85_...

                                            I would take the best ideas from the two recipes

                                            1. re: zzDan

                                              I think I will take the best from the two as you suggest, Thanks again.

                                              BTW, I meant I forgot the tomatoes! In my previous post...

                                      2. In my family beans are identified by color. When mom said she was making beans, my sis and I would always ask "Brown or white?" Sis was partial to white and I love brown. In my house they're always brown, served with cornbread and raw onion slices on the side. I'm from Arkansas.

                                        2 Replies
                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                            yes, brown is pinto and white is navy or any other light bean (but not lima beans, those were "butterbeans")

                                        1. In Southern California, beans is going to be pinto beans. Personally I prefer black beans.

                                          1. beans-- probably the locally grown great northern or navy beans

                                            baked beans-- pinto or the above, or a mix

                                            rice 'n beans-- black beans
                                            red beans n rice-- in that case, kidney beans

                                            soup beans-- can again be one variety of local white bean, or a mix of pantry beans

                                            various heirloom beans are grown in the area and called by name, as are large beans like lima or gigantes.

                                            cowpeas and black eyed peas are used less commonly in my area, but still used. red and brown lentils are used as well as green lentils, and split yellow and green peas. this is mainstream grocery store stuff, regional rather than ethnic. there will be more pulses in specialty/ethnic markets.

                                            lots of people have beans as a common pantry item where i live (MN) and many folks make bean soup and split pea soup and lentil soup/dal in the winter. where i live, chili contains beans, and in addition to meat chili, "white" chicken and turkey chilis, incorporating white beans and green chiles, are popular in cold weather. lots of people also make multibean soups or five or seven bean chilis, either vegetarian or with a small amount of bacon or similar.

                                            1. To give a response from abroad: white beans in Chile (cranberry or roma beans to be exact). Having a German mom meant not eating a lot of beans at home--split peas more common. Someone mentioned chili with spaghetti upthread--isn't that Cincinnati style chili?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Wawsanham

                                                Cincy Chilli is served atop spaghetti noodles; if noodles(whatever kind are used) are mixed in, it is usually called Johnny marzetti or something similar. Tons of threads on here about that, I think.

                                                1. re: Wawsanham

                                                  No, it's not Cincinnati chili..just a weird bastardization (and not just my mom's-- I've had/seen it plenty of other places)

                                                2. My mom's family - southern Illinois - great northerns and what's left of your ham, with the bone.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. In my locale the black bean is the default but...
                                                    My default bean to cook is the chickpea. It is the ultimate bean because it is the least prone to melt down into that sauce you get with most other beans such as the beans you use in chili. Yeah I cook white beans, black beans, red beans other beans too. Nothing wrong with the other beans but chickpeas have the most integrity and are the most grain like. I believe I could live on them for a few weeks in a survivalist situation. They are the most solid and stolid beans. When I cook them they get real soft (with pressure cooker) but never make that bean sauce. I have to mash them a bit to get that sauce and do that sometimes. If anyone has gotten "sauce" from chickpeas without mashing a few, please let me know

                                                    7 Replies
                                                    1. re: zzDan

                                                      Where's your locale, if I may ask.

                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                        Miami area... I am a bean and grain theoretician and philosophizer. (joking a bit)
                                                        The best grain (health wise) is whole wheat for Europeans and brown rice for most East Asians. This is a generalization. I am well aware that in parts of China wheat is the main grain. Even millet in some places. Corn made into masa being best for those of AmerIndian heritage. Masa being superior to plain ground corn such as you make polenta from

                                                        I am of Euro heritage from where wheat and rye breads were the life sustaining main food. I am from places where a slice of rye bread that you rubbed a clove of raw garlic onto was a childhood treat. A little butter even more of a treat. Where after the grain harvest the children would walk across the fields barefoot on the remaining stubble. Barefoot to save their shoe leather (everyone was poor) plus I believe they were looking for grain dropped in the harvesting. All this was related to me by family friends from Poland who are now gone.

                                                        I will brag and say that I practice what I preach. Bake my own wheat and rye breads, usually unleavened. No yeast but let to rise another way. In fact rising right now to be baked tonight.

                                                        1. re: zzDan

                                                          Good rye bread always has been and always will be a treat to me. With or without the garlic clove.

                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            Orale! (you might have to look that up)
                                                            Rye is the poor man's wheat. It will grow on more marginal soils and in harsher climates. It's a northern grain while wheat is grown in a wider range of climates

                                                            "Rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe. The main rye belt stretches from northern Germany through Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia into central and northern Russia. Rye is also grown in North America (Canada and the USA), in South America (Argentina, Brazil), in Turkey, in Kazakstan and in northern China."

                                                            1. re: zzDan

                                                              Ever sample rye whisky? I have not but am sporting enough to give it a shot--so to speak.

                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                According to Wikipedia, American rye whisky has a lot more actual rye than Canadian (which surprises me, because Canadian whisky is often just called "rye", dropping the "whisky" altogether)

                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                  Yes Jim Bean Rye whiskey .... Bought a few bottles ~8 years ago but avoid the hard stuff these days. It's just good whiskey with a slightly different taste. IOW I would not know it was made fr rye in a blind taste test

                                                      2. My mom found Anasazi beans in the 80's and never looked back. I love cranberry beans meself, and I have no aversion to white beans or Pintos either, but then I'm a beanlover.

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: mamachef

                                                          "I'm a Beanlover"--wasn't that a hit for the Monkees back in '66?

                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            nah - it was written by Neil Diamond, who's well-known for his aversion to beans -- it's I'm A Bean-Leaver.

                                                            (please note poster's tongue inserted firmly in cheek - I have no idea of Mr. Diamond eats beans or not)

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              With Ham Hocks, but don't tell Ms. Striesand

                                                            2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                              Ah, you betcha. Along with "Beanlove w/ me" by the Archies. :)

                                                          2. My Mom was a bean lover so I got every bean there was! Me I like kidney and black beans. :D

                                                            1. It was "soup beans and cornbread" growing up in KY, and that always meant pintos. I never heard of/ate black beans until I was an adult, after moving far away. Wish I could find fresh cranberry beans here, but I still make great pots full of green beans (and grow them) sans cranberry beans.

                                                              8 Replies
                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                Seems to me black beans didn't properly invade the US cuisine scene until the 90s, although I'm sure they were fairly common in south Florida long before that.

                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                  Black beans came to Florida from Cuba in the early 19th century in the first mass immigration from that country (just prior to the Spanish-American war). (Not arguing, just padding out the information)

                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                    that isn't true. the old recipes that include "turtle beans" are calling for black beans. black beans were supposed to resemble the flavor of turtle meat, and so they were a common "poor man's" substitute when turtle stew etc. were popular, in the 19th-early 20th centuries.

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                      Perhaps they fell out of fashion between 1930 and 1990 because I sure don't remember black beans being the least bit popular in the 70s and 80s.

                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                        I know they'd hid the big time by the late 80s, because I remember giggling (and pissing off my host) when I walked into a gourmet food store in Detroit to find huge display of Goya black beans and yellow rice dinner piled on a big table right inside the front door.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          Gourmet food store in Detroit? I didn't think that possible. ;)

                                                                        2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                          i don't know if i could tell you for sure, or maybe it's regional. i seem to remember black beans in cuban and mexican restaurants and in 7-bean soups at friends' houses. but i was born in 1975 so, truly, i don't know what i really recall re: preponderance of black beans in the 70s and 80s. one thing about my area is that folks love their co-ops and are big on the dried bulk foods, including many types of beans.

                                                                  2. The default here (Puerto Rico) is pink or red. We also have a serious relationship with garbanzos, especially with pig legs (feet?), but if you ask for a plate of rice and beans, it will most likely be pink beans, maybe red, and most definitely stewed in a tomato sauce with ham and probably pumpkin.

                                                                    1. When I was a kid in South Carolina it was alway black eyed peas... ate so much one time that I got sick and couldn't eat them for years. Here in Iowa it always seem to be kidney beans...

                                                                      1. Grew up along the TX coast with a Mother from Michigan, both her parents from Michigan and she was taught to cook by her grandmother -- default beans in our family were navies, which I loved, and limas, which I hated. We also had green beans, very occasionally baked beans, which I disliked almost as much as limas (and still do - I'm okay with limas now); all these were made 'from scratch.' Then there were Van Camp's pork and beans out of a can and English peas, also often out of a can. We had black eyed peas very seldom because Dad disliked them.

                                                                        If she ever made pintos I don't remember it but her navy bean soup was a childhood favorite.

                                                                        Default beans culturally are of course pintos, with Mexican and BBQ, and, in third place here in SE TX, perhaps, red camelia beans for red beans and rice.

                                                                        My own personal favs are fava and black/turtle beans.