Bean: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Various types of beans

Bean is a common name for large plant seeds of several genera of the family Fabaceae (alternately Leguminosae) used for human food or animal feed.

The whole young pods of bean plants, if picked before the pods ripen and dry, are very tender and may be eaten cooked or raw. Thus the word "green beans" means "green" in the sense of unripe (many are in fact, not green in color), as the beans inside the pods of green beans are too small to comprise a significant part of the cooked fruit.



The term "bean" originally referred to the seed of the broad bean, but was later expanded to include members of the genus Phaseolus, such as the common bean and the runner bean, and the related genus Vigna. The term is now applied in a general way to many other related plants such as soybeans, peas, lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas (garbanzos), vetches and lupins.[citation needed]

"Bean" can be used as a near-synonym of "pulse", an edible legume, though the term "pulses" is usually reserved for leguminous crops harvested for their dry grain and usually excludes crops mainly used for oil extraction (like soybeans and peanuts) or those used exclusively for sowing purposes (such as clover and alfalfa). Leguminous crops harvested green for food, such as snap peas, snow peas, etc., are classified as vegetable crops.[citation needed]

In English usage, the word "beans" is also sometimes used to mean the seeds or pods of plants that are not in the family Leguminosae, but which bear a superficial resemblance to true beans, for example coffee beans, castor beans and cocoa beans (which resemble bean seeds), and vanilla beans (which resemble the pods).[citation needed]


Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. Broad beans, with seeds the size of the small fingernail, were gathered in their wild state in Afghanistan and the Himalayan foothills.[1] In a form improved from naturally-occurring types, they were already being grown in Thailand since the early seventh millennium BC, predating ceramics.[2] They were deposited with the dead in ancient Egypt. Not until the second millennium BC did cultivated, large-seeded broad beans appear in the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe.[3] In the Iliad (late 8th century) is a passing mention of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor.[4]

The common bean has been cultivated for six thousand years in the Americas.[citation needed] The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.[5]

Beans were an important alternative source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today. There are over 4,000 cultivars of bean on record in the United States alone. An interesting modern example of the diversity of bean use is the modern urban recipe 15 bean soup, which, as the name implies, contains literally fifteen different varieties of bean.

Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh come from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus during his exploration of what may have been the Bahamas, found them being grown in fields. Five kinds of Phaseolus beans were domesticated[6] by pre-Columbian peoples: common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) grown from Chile to the northern part of what is now the United States, and lima and sieva beans (Phaseolus lunatus), as well as the less widely distributed teparies (Phaseolus acutifolius), scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) and polyanthus beans (Phaseolus polyanthus)[7] One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people as far north as the Atlantic seaboard is the "Three Sisters" method of companion plant cultivation:

On the east coast of what would come to be called the United States, some tribes would grow maize (corn), beans, and squash intermingled together, a system which had originated in Mexico. The corn would not be planted in rows as it is today, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, separate patches of one to four stalks each.
Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, "bush beans" having only been bred more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.
Squash would then be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans, because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals like deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, et cetera.

Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot).


Beans, average, canned, sugarfree
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 334 kJ (80 kcal)
Carbohydrates 10.5 g
Fat 0.5 g
Protein 9.6 g
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.

There are many bean types, including:


Some kinds of raw beans and especially red and kidney beans, contain a harmful toxin (the lectin Phytohaemagglutinin) that must be destroyed by cooking. A recommended method is to boil the beans for at least ten minutes; undercooked beans may be more toxic than raw beans.[8] Cooking beans in a slow cooker, because of the lower temperatures often used, may not destroy toxins even though the beans do not smell or taste 'bad'[8] (though this should not be a problem if the food reaches boiling and stays there for some time).

Fermentation is used in some parts of Africa to improve the nutritional value of beans by removing toxins. Inexpensive fermentation improves the nutritional impact of flour from dry beans and improves digestibility, according to research co-authored by Emire Shimelis, from the Food Engineering Program at Addis Ababa University. The study is published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology. Beans are a major source of dietary protein in Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.[9]


Beans have significant amounts of fiber and soluble fiber, with one cup of cooked beans providing between nine to thirteen grams of fiber.[10] Soluble fiber can help lower blood cholesterol.[10] Beans are also high in protein, complex carbohydrates and iron.[10]


Many edible beans, including broad beans and soybeans, contain oligosaccharides (particularly raffinose and stachyose), a type of sugar molecule also found in cabbage. An anti-oligosaccharide enzyme is necessary to properly digest these sugar molecules. As a normal human digestive tract does not contain any anti-oligosaccharide enzymes, consumed oligosaccharides are typically digested by bacteria in the large intestine. This digestion process produces flatulence-causing gases as a byproduct. This aspect of bean digestion is the basis for the children's rhyme "Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit."

Some species of mold produce alpha-galactosidase, an anti-oligosaccharide enzyme, which humans can take to facilitate digestion of oligosaccharides in the small intestine. This enzyme, currently sold in the U.S. under the brand-name Beano, can be added to food or consumed separately. In many cuisines beans are cooked along with natural carminatives such as anise seeds, coriander seeds and cumin.

Other strategies include soaking beans in water for several hours before mixing them with other ingredients to remove the offending sugars. Sometimes vinegar is added, but only after the beans are cooked as vinegar interferes with the beans' softening.

Fermented beans will usually not produce most of the intestinal problems that unfermented beans will, since yeast can consume the offending sugars.


The world leader in production of dry bean is Brazil, followed by India and then China. In Europe, the most important producer is Germany.

Top Ten Dry Bean Producers — 11 June 2008
Country Production (Tonnes) Footnote
 Brazil 3,330,435
 India 3,000,000 F
 People's Republic of China 1,957,000 F
 Myanmar 1,765,000 F
 Mexico 1,390,000 F
 United States 1,150,808
 Kenya 535,000 F
 Uganda 435,000
 Argentina 328,249
 Indonesia 320,000 F
 World 19,289,231 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

The world leader in production of Green Bean is China, followed by Indonesia and then Turkey.

Top Ten Green Bean Producers — 11 June 2008
Country Production (Tonnes) Footnote
 People's Republic of China 2,485,000 F
 Indonesia 830,000 F
 Turkey 499,298
 India 420,000 F
 Spain 225,000 F
 Egypt 215,000 F
 Italy 187,190
 Belgium 105,000 F
 Morocco 100,000 F
 United States 100,000 F
 World 6,371,333 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division

Cultural aspects

  • In some folk legends, such as in Estonia and the common Jack and the Beanstalk story, magical beans grow tall enough to bring the hero to the clouds.
  • The Grimm Brothers collected a story in which a bean splits its sides laughing at the failure of others.
A bowl of tomatillos and beans in the pod
  • Pliny the Elder claimed that beans act as a laxative. He may have been referring to the seeds of the castor oil plant, which contain oils used as laxatives in ancient India.
  • European folklore claims that planting beans on Good Friday or during the night-time is good luck.
  • "Beans, Beans, the Magical Fruit" is a children's song about the flatulence often experienced after eating beans. The song is noteworthy for correctly identifying the bean as a fruit, not a vegetable. Yet beans, along with many other fruits, are regarded as vegetables due to their common usage as such. The decision to classify certain fruits as vegetables was officially resolved in 1893 when the US Supreme Court unanimously decided the tomato was a vegetable, at which time Justice Gray also clarified the status of cucumbers, squash, peas and beans as vegetables.[11] This distinction is important in planning nutritionally balanced meals and is supported in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture in which legumes (dry beans) are designated as a subgroup within the Vegetable Group,[12] and in the MyPyramid Food Plan in which dry beans and peas are part of the Vegetable Group.[13]
  • In Japanese, "mame" (豆, マメ = "bean") may also mean something small. "Mame Chishiki" (豆知識), a Japanese phrase, which literally means "bean knowledge" (not "knowledge of beans"), is used to indicate any random trivia or miscellaneous knowledge displayed. The Japanese name for the Japanese beetle is "mamekogane" (マメコガネ), meaning "small beetle".
  • In many parts of the southern United States, serving a meal of black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is thought to bring good luck in the upcoming year.
  • In Malta and in Brazil, eating lentils on New Year's Day is said to bring good fortune in terms of money for the coming year.
  • In Nicaragua, newlyweds are given a bowl of beans for good luck.
  • In Aruba, boiled beans mixed with zinc phosphide are used as a means of cheap Rodenticide.
  • In Italy, eating lentils on New Years night is said to bring good fortune in terms of money for the coming year.
  • Pythagoreans did not eat beans, and exclude meat and fish, as well.[14]

See also

Foot Notes

  1. ^ L. Kaplan, "Legumes in the History of Human Nutrition" The World of Soy, 2008:27ff.
  2. ^ Chester F. Gorman, "Hoabinhian: a pebble-tool complex with early plant associations in Southeast Asia", Science, 1969.
  3. ^ Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf Domestication of Plants in the Old World 2000:114.
  4. ^ "And as in some great threshing-floor go leaping From a broad pan the black-skinned beans or peas" (Iliad xiii, 589).
  5. ^ Chazan p. 271
  6. ^ Domestication, besides involving selection for larger seed size, also involved selection for pods that did not curl and open when ripe, scattering the beans they contained (Kaplan 2008:30)..
  7. ^ Kaplan 2008:30f).
  8. ^ a b "Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook: Phytohaemagglutinin". Bad Bug Book. United States Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  9. ^ (Sub Saharan Africa page, Science and Development Network website)
  10. ^ a b c Mixed Bean Salad (information and recipe) from The Mayo Clinic Healthy Recipes. Accessed February 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^


  • Chazan, Michael (2008). World Prehistory and Archaeology: Pathways through Time. Pearson Education, Inc.. ISBN 0-205-40621-1. 

External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BEAN (a common Teutonic word, cf. Ger. Bohne), the seed of certain leguminous plants cultivated for food all over the world, and furnished chiefly by the genera Vicia, Phaseolus, Dolichos and others. The common bean, in all its varieties, as cultivated in Britain and on the continents of Europe and America, is the produce of Vicia Faba. The French bean, kidney bean, or haricot, is the seed of Phaseolus vulgaris; but in India several other species of this genus of plants are raised, and form no small portion of the diet of the inhabitants. Besides these there are numerous other pulses cultivated for the food both of man and domestic animals, to which the name bean is frequently given. The common bean is even more nutritious than wheat; and it contains a very high proportion of nitrogenous matter under the form of legumin, which amounts on an average to 24%. It is, however, a rather coarse food, and difficult of digestion, and is chiefly used to feed horses, for which it is admirably adapted. In England French beans are chiefly, almost exclusively, used in the green state; the whole pod being eaten as a table vegetable or prepared as a pickle. It is wholesome and nutritious; and in Holland and Germany the pods are preserved in salt by almost every family for winter and spring use. The green pods are cut across obliquely, most generally by a machine invented for the purpose, and salted in barrels. When wanted for use they are steeped in fresh water to remove the salt, and broiled or stewed they form an agreeable addition to the diet at a time when no other vegetable may be had.

The broad bean - Vicia Faba, or Faba vulgaris, as it is known by those botanists who regard the slight differences which distinguish it from the great majority of the species of the vetch genus (Vicia) as of generic importance - is an annual which has been cultivated from prehistoric times for its nutritious seeds.

The lake-dwellers of Switzerland, and northern Italy in the bronze age cultivated a small-fruited variety, and it was grown in ancient Egypt, though, according to Herodotus, regarded by the priests as unclean. The ancient Greeks called it Kivaµos, the Latins faba, but there is no suggestion that the plant is a native of Europe. Alphonse de Candolle (Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 320) concludes that the bean was introduced into Europe probably by the western Aryans at the time of their earliest migrations. He suggests that its wild habitat was twofold some thousands of years ago, one of the centres being to the south of the Caspian, the other in the north of Africa, and that its area has long been in process of diminution and extinction. The nature of the plant favours this hypothesis, for its seed has no means of dispersing itself, and rodents or other animals can easily make prey of it; the struggle for existence which was going against this plant as against maize would have gradually isolated it and caused it to disappear, if man had not saved it by cultivation. It was introduced into China a little before the Christian era, later into Japan and more recently into India, though it has been suggested that in parts of the higher Himalayas its cultivation has survived from very ancient times. It is a plant which will flourish in all ordinary good garden soil. The seeds are sown about 4 in. apart, in drills 22 ft. asunder for the smaller and 3 ft. for the larger sorts. The soil should, preferably, be a rather heavy loam, deeply worked and well enriched. For an early crop, seeds may be sown in November, and protected during winter in the same manner as early peas. An early crop may also be obtained by dibbling in the seeds in November, sheltering by a frame, and in February transplanting them to a warm border. Successional crops are obtained by sowing suitable varieties from January to the end of June. All the culture necessary is that the earth be drawn up about the stems. The plants are usually topped when the pods have set, as this not only removes the black aphides which often settle there, but is also found to promote the filling of the pods.

The following are some of the best sorts: - for early use, Early Mazagan, Long-pod, Marshall's Early Prolific and Seville Long-pod; for late use, Carter's Mammoth Long-pod and Broad Windsor.

The horse-bean is a variety - var. equina. Cultivation of Field-bean. - Several varieties of Vicia Faba (e.g. the horse bean, the mazagan, the tick bean, the winter bean) are cultivated in the field for the sake both of the grain, which is used as food for live-stock, and of the haulm, which serves for either fodder or litter. They are best adapted for heavy soils such as clays or clayey loams. The time for sowing is from the end of January to the beginning of March, or in the case of winter beans from the end of September to the middle of November. The bean-crop is usually interposed between two crops of wheat or some other cereal. If spring beans are to be sown, the land after harvest is dressed with farmyard manure, which is then ploughed in. In January the soil is levelled with the harrows, and the seed, which should be hard and light brown in colour, is drilled in rows from 15 to 24 in. apart at the rate of from 2 to 22 bushels to the acre and then harrowed in. The alternative is to "dibble" the seed in the furrow left by the autumn ploughing and cover it in with the harrows; or the land may be ridged with the double-breasted plough, manure deposited in the furrows and the seed sown broadcast, the ridges being then split back so as to cover both manure and seed. After the plant shows, horse-hoeing and hand-hoeing between the rows is carried on so long as the plant is small enough to suffer no injury therefrom. The routine of cultivation for winter beans hardly differs from that described except as regards the time of sowing.

Beans are cut when the leaf is fallen and the haulm is almos black either with the fagging hook or the reaping machine, though the stoutness of the stalks causes a severe strain on the latter implement. They are tied and stooked, and are so left for a considerable time before stacking. There is less fear of injury to the crop through damp than in the case of other cereals. Their value for feeding purposes increases in the stack, where they may remain for a year or more before threshing. Pea and bean weevils, both striped (Sitones lineatus) and spotted (Sitones crinitus), and the bean aphis (Aphis rumicis), are noted pests of the crop. Winter beans come to maturity earlier than the spring-sown varieties, and are therefore strong enough to resist the attacks of the aphis by the end of June, when it begins its ravages. Field-beans yield from 25 to 35 bushels to the acre.

Phaseolus vulgaris, the kidney, French or haricot bean, an annual, dwarf and bushy in growth,is widely cultivated in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions, but is nowhere known as a wild plant. It was long supposed to be of Indian origin, an idea which was disproved by Alphonse de Candolle, who sums up the facts bearing on its origin as follows: - Phaseolus vulgaris has not been long cultivated in India, the south-west of Asia and Egypt, and it is not certain that it was known in Europe before the discovery of America. At the latter epoch the number of varieties in European gardens suddenly increased, and all authors began to mention them. The majority of the species of the genus exist in South America, and seeds apparently belonging to the species in question have been found in Peruvian tombs of an uncertain date, intermixed with many species, all American. Hence it is probable that the plant is of South American origin.

It is a tender annual, and should be grown in a rich light loamy soil and a warm sheltered situation. The soil should be well enriched with hot-bed dung. The earliest crop may be sown by the end of March or beginning of April. If, however, the temperature of the soil is below 45°, the beans make but little progress. The main crops should be got in early in May; and a later sowing may be made early in July. The earlier plantings may be sown in small pots, and put in frames or houses, until they can be safely planted out-of-doors. A light covering of straw or some other simple shelter suffices to protect from late frosts. The seeds should be covered I Z or 2 in. deep, the distance between the rows being about 2 ft., or for the dwarfest sorts 18 in., and that between plants from 4 to 6 in. The pods may be used as a green vegetable, in which case they should be gathered whilst they are so crisp as to be readily snapped in two when bent; but when the dry seeds are to be used the pods should be allowed to ripen. As the green pods are gathered others will continue to be formed in abundance, but if old seed-forming pods are allowed to remain the formation of young ones will be greatly checked. There are numerous varieties; among the best are Canadian Wonder, Canterbury and Black Negro.

Phaseolus multiflorus, scarlet runner, is nearly allied to P. vulgaris, of which it is sometimes regarded as a variety, but differs in its climbing habit. It is naturally perennial and has a thick fleshy root, but is grown in Great Britain as a tender annual. Its bright, generally scarlet flowers, arranged in long racemes, and the fact that it will flourish in any ordinary good garden soil, combine to make it a favourite garden plant. It is also of interest as being one of the few plants that twine in a direction contrary to the apparent motion of the sun. The seeds of the runner beans should be sown in an open plot, - the first sowing in May, another at the beginning of June, and a third about the middle of June. In the London market-gardens they are sown 8 to 12 in. apart, in 4 ft. rows if the soil is good. The twining tops are pinched or cut off when the plants are from 2 to 21 ft. high, to save the expense of staking. It is better, however, in private gardens to have the rows standing separately, and to support the plants by stakes 6 or 7 ft. high and about a foot apart, the tops of the stakes being crossed about one-third down. If the weather is dry when the pods are forming abundantly, plenty of tepid water should be supplied to the plants. In training the shoots to their supports, they should be twined from right to left, contrary to the course of the sun, or they will not lay hold. By frequently picking the pods the plants are encouraged to form fresh blooms from which pods may be picked until the approach of frost.

The ordinary scarlet runner is most commonly grown, but there is a white-flowered variety which has also white seeds; this is very prolific and of excellent quality. Another variety called Painted Lady, with the flowers red and white, is very ornamental, but not so productive. Carter's Champion is a large-podded productive variety.

Another species P. lunatus, the Lima bean, a tall biennial with a scimitar-shaped pod (whence the specific name) 2 to 3 in. long containing a few large seeds, is widely cultivated in the warmer parts of the world.

The young pods of another leguminous climbing herb, Dolichos Lablab, as well as the seeds, are widely used in the tropics, as we use the kidney bean. The plant is probably a native of tropical Africa, but is now generally cultivated in the tropics. The word Dolichos is of Greek origin, and was used by Theophrastus for the scarlet runner.

Another species, D. biflorus, is the horse gram, the seed of which is eaten by the poorer class of natives in India, and is also, as are the pods, a food for horses and cattle.

The Soy bean, Glycine hispida, was included by Linnaeus in the genus Dolichos. It is extensively cultivated in China and Japan, chiefly for the pleasant-flavoured seed from which is. prepared a piquant sauce. It is also widely grown in India, where the bean is eaten, while the plant forms a valuable fodder; it is cultivated for the latter purpose in the United States.

Other references to beans will be found under special headings, such as Calabar Bean, Locust-Tree. There are also several non-leguminous seeds to which the popular name bean is attached. Among these may be mentioned the sacred Egyptian or Pythagorean bean (Nelumbium speciosum), and the Ignatius bean (probably Strychnos multiflora), a source of strychnine.

The ancient Greeks and Romans madeuseof beans in gathering the votes of the people, and for the election of magistrates. A. white bean signified absolution, and a black one condemnation. Beans had a mysterious use in the lemuralia and parentalia, where the master of the family, after washing his hands three times, threw black beans over his head nine times, reiterating the words "I redeem myself and my family by these beans."

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also bean




  1. A botanical plant name author abbreviation for botanist William Jackson Bean (1863-1947).

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Simple English

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae

Bean is the name used for the seeds of several plants. Most of these plants are known as legumes. Their scientific name is Fabaceae. Common beans, lentils, soybeans, Kidney beans, peas, vetches and lupins are all in that group of plants.

The seeds of other plants (which are not Fabaceae), are sometimes also called beans. This is mostly because of their resemblance to true beans. Example for such beans are Coffee beans, Cocoa beans, and Vanilla beans.


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