Beans are a staple ingredient in dishes around the world from Egypt and Italy to Mexico and Brazil. There are many different types of beans used for different flavours and textures.
The most beans most commonly grown in Australia are faba (broad) beans however mung beans, adzuki beans and navy (haricot) beans are also grown. Other commonly eaten beans that you may find in the supermarket are listed below.
- Adzuki beans are round, commonly red beans traditionally used in Asian sweets. The paste is commonly used in pastries and cakes.
- Black beans, or black turtle beans, are black, oval shaped beans popular in Mexican and Brazilian dishes.
- Borlotti beans, also known as cranberry beans, are cream coloured with red speckled markings and turn light brown when cooked. They have a creamy texture and a nutty flavour. They are popular in Italian dishes and can be used in excellent in soups and stews, as well as cold bean salads.
- Cannellini beans are white beans with the same shape as a kidney bean. They have a mild, nutty taste with creamy texture and are popular in Italian dishes. They hold their shape well and are one of the best white beans for salads and ragouts.
- Edamame beans are young soybeans which are usually eaten whilst still inside the pod. Unlike mature soybeans, edamame beans are soft and edible.
- Faba (fava) beans, or broad beans, are cream coloured, oval-shaped and usually flattened beans. Faba beans originated in the Middle East but are now widely used in dishes around the world. Australia is among the top five producers of faba beans in the world and is the leading exporter.
- Flageolet beans are small, immature kidney beans which are pale green in colour. They are deeply rooted in traditional French cooking and have a creamy texture and delicate flavour once cooked. They’re great in rich stews and when paired with punchy flavours like garlic, rosemary and thyme.
- Great Northern beans are less common in Australia. Their texture is slightly grainy, with a nutty, dense flavour. They are used in salads, soups, stews, ragouts, and purees.
- Lima beans are also called butter beans as they have a buttery texture, are white and flattened beans. They are great for soups, salads, bean mash or dips as well as casseroles.
- Mung beans are egg shaped and generally green in colour. This bean is native to the Indo-Burma region and is used as a food and an ingredient in both savoury and sweet dishes around the world. Mung bean flour can be used to make bread and pasta like vermicelli or spaghetti.
- Navy beans, or haricot beans, are small, oval white beans that cook quite quickly. Commonly used to make commercial baked beans.
- Pinto beans are cream coloured, speckled with brown. They are the most common bean used for refried beans.
- Red kidney beans are a deep red colour. They hold their shape well when boiled so are easy to add to almost any dish to add some variety.
- Soybeans are green when raw (known as edamame) and white when dried.
A table comparing the nutrient content of different types of legumes can be downloaded here.