7 Unique Beans & Their Origins

Not everyone knows it, but beans are technically seeds. Most beans create flowering plants of the Fabaceae family, though we have been using them as food for so many thousands of years that we never really think about them in the same way we do as pumpkin or sunflower or flax seeds. To us, “beans” are their own category, and it’s probably better that way since there are thousands of varieties of them, all of which have different characteristics and various applications. Beans, as a food source for humans, date all the way back to ancient Egypt and Afghanistan. They could perhaps be older, as human civilizations existed long before records were ever kept.

These days, of course, it’s easy to go out and find and buy beans online, no matter which type you want. But that brings up a pretty good question: Which type of beans do you want? You could go with the sorts of varieties you already know. Nothing wrong with that big pot of beans just like grandma used to make! It’s hearty, nutritious, delicious food. Though, if you wanted to go another way, you can find a whole new world of beans, maybe even some unique ones that you haven’t heard about before, or at least may have always wanted to try but cannot regularly find them. Here are seven of the most unique types of beans around.

Cool Information on 7 Unique Bean Varieties

1: Adzuki Beans

One of the most unique beans that you’ll find living in the western world, adzuki beans, are small and sweet, and they’re trendy on the island of Japan but actually originated in China. One of the aspects of these beans that make them so unique is that they weren’t always used as a staple in any sort of eastern diet. Although they’re very tender and pretty sweet and an overall edible bean to dine on, the Chinese used them for medicine, believing they had many healing properties. Japanese culture also mirrored this tradition and took them home to use as medicine. Over the years, they’ve become more and more prominent in classic Asian cuisine, though they can be used in any sort of cuisine.

2: Ancient Ancestor Beans

If you’re a big fan of history, then you won’t be able to buy beans online at: https://grainworks.com/beans-peas-and-lentils/, with a cooler name than this. Ancient ancestor beans are actually formally known as Anasazi beans. They have been around for potentially many thousands of years, cultivated and enjoyed by the Native Americans in what is the modern-day “Four Corners,” an area that encompasses New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Pueblo Indians enjoyed these beans, and they are known for their antioxidant properties. People on diets today like them because they’re both low calorie and low carb beans, while still having a distinct sweetness about them.

3: Baby Lima Beans

A lot of people reading this likely think that there’s nothing at all unique about a lima bean. These hearty, tender, sweet beans are enjoyed all the time in kitchens everywhere, typically with butter and salt. Though the baby limas are undoubtedly unique. These beans aren’t just immature lima beans; they’re actually an entirely different dwarf variety, which makes them pretty unique in the bean world. High in folates and other essential vitamins and minerals, the name for lima beans comes from Lima, Peru, where they grew initially, and some may know the baby lima bean better for its colloquial name, the butter bean.

4: Black Turtle Beans

You could add this bean to the list simply because of its name. You can’t find a much more unique name for a bean than black turtle. However, they also make the list because they’re a very unique member of the kidney bean family. They’re also known in some circles as black beans but are not the same as the typical and common black bean. These beans have a very earthy, mushroom-like flavour. These beans originated in South America, where they’re still used today in a wide variety of Cuban and Brazilian dishes.

5: Cranberry Beans

While these beans might make some people think about turkey and stuffing and the American holiday, or perhaps just the fall season in general, there’s nothing tart or berry-like about cranberry beans. These unique beans get their name from their pink skin that closely resembles cranberries. While no one can be sure on the level of historical accuracy, these beans are thought to have been used for many hundreds of years, perhaps longer, in the region of the Andes mountains, where people believe they originated. They’re similar in flavour to pinto beans but are plumper and more tender.

6: Mung Beans

Mung beans are simultaneously both incredibly unique and insanely common. That might seem weird, but let us explain. As a full bean, the mung is unique in its Indian origins. It originated there and has been cultivated by Indians for thousands of years now. However, in places like America, the mung bean is famous without anyone even knowing they’re eating a mung bean. It’s the bean that’s known to people as the “beansprout,” purchased and consumed by fanatics of health food and micro-cuisine. They’re a slightly sweet bean when dried that has a tender texture and can be used in a range of applications.

7: Fava Beans

Hannibal Lecter fans know what this bean is, but that doesn’t mean they’ve eaten them. So, put the chianti down and stop making those funny tongue noises and just eat some more favas. Though if so many people know the bean exists, why is it so unique? The fava bean is unique in the bean world because it’s one of the oldest seeds out there. It dates all the way back to ancient Egypt, before becoming a staple in ancient Rome, and then a big hit in Italy, England, Scotland and other nations through the Middle Ages into modern times. It’s an earthy bean that’s almost bitter and must be cooked well, but also insanely nutritious.

Beans are delicious and undoubtedly nutritious, containing a laundry list of health benefits. You can find a ton of different cooking applications for any of the seeds on this list, and they can become a staple food for you and your family if you’re interested in living a healthier lifestyle. Plus, you never know, one of the most unique beans out there could become your new favourite food.