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Dried Beans and Peas

Information about beans and peas

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Jump to:   What's the difference between Beans and Peas  |  History  |  Nutritional and Dietary Values

Types of dried Peas  |  Types of dried Beans  | General Cooking  |  Recipes


This section deals with dried peas and beans (pulses). It includes general information such as origin, history, dietary and general cooking tips and a few recipes plus a list and description of lots of peas and beans. The list is not exhaustive however, it should cover most items which are available to buy in stores. For more recipes either visit our Pasta Rice & Pulses recipe sections (links above) or use the Search Form.


Difference between Beans and Peas

Peas and beans are both members of the same families i.e. Fabaceae  or leguminosae, and are also sometimes referred to as pulses. The major difference between peas and beans is that peas have a hollow stem and beans have a solid stem.  Another difference is that beans climb by wrapping their stems around their support whilst peas have little tendrils which do the twining. Both peas and beans have climbing and dwarf varieties, with the climbing versions requiring support to climb up in order to produce a full heavy crop.

You can find detailed information about growing legumes on our Growing Herbs and Vegetables pages.

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Legumes have always been a crop of utmost  importance to human beings and all major civilizations have heavily relied on different types of  legume in their diet at some time or another.

In some Eastern cultures, legumes have been a basic dietary staple for more than 20,000 years. It is now widely accepted that common beans such as Lima and Pinto beans were first domesticated over 6,000 years ago in  Central America and the Andean regions and were widely used in both the Aztec and Inca cultures. As might be expected, natural migrations spread the different varieties of beans throughout the world.

Throughout history, beans have been used in many ways as well as for food. The Moche, a civilisation who pre-dated the Incas in  Peru,  drew  symbols on beans as an a form of early written record keeping, in ancient Egypt beans were reverered with items such as lentils and Fava Beans having been found in Pharaohs' tombs put there in readiness for the afterlife and early  Greeks and Romans used beans to cast their votes during trials.  It is also known that c 1500 BC,  parts of present day Asia were growing and using soybeans.

It should be noted that at the same time, grains such as wheat, rice, corn, barley and millet were also grown and eaten with various beans as staples. Today, we know that beans and grains eaten together provide form a complete protein, essential for growth and development, and this combination can be seen in many traditional dishes worldwide such as peas and rice, beans and corn and chickpeas and couscous.

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European explorers further aided the spread and exchange of beans and grains, resulting in a huge expansion of the numerous varieties all over the world with their relatively cheap production making them an invaluable staple in many countries.

Nutritional and Dietary Values

Dried beans and peas are a good source of  B vitamins, potassium, iron and fibre, with the added bonus of containing  lots of complex carbohydrates, little fat and no cholesterol. They are inexpensive and a healthy option to include in your 5 - A -Day,  with one serving  of cooked beans (about 90ml/3fl.oz/a handful) containing around 80 calories.  In addition, beans beans are thought to help prevent colon cancer and reduce blood cholesterol.

If you are not used to eating beans on a regular basis,  the following should be taken into consideration:

Beans alone are not complete proteins so if you want to use them to replace other protein sources such as meat, poultry and fish, be sure to eat them with items such as rice, couscous, corn, bulgur and other grain based items such as tortillas, nuts and seeds.

In some people, a sudden large increase in eating beans can cause intestinal discomfort. You can minimize adverse effects by:-

  • gradually increasing your intake 

  • making sure you change the soaking water several times

  • ensuring you drink sufficient water (don't over-do it)

  • exercising regularly

The latter two points encourage your gastrointestinal system to process the increased dietary fibre.

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Types of Dried Peas

Black-eyed peas
Other Names:  
cowpea;  black-eye bean;  black-eyed Suzy;   China bean;   Southern pea  
Substitutes:  Yellow-eyed peas;  Pigeon peas


Ceci bean - See Chick Pea

Congo pea - See Pigeon Pea

Cowpea - see Black-eyed Pea


Other names :  garbanzo bean;  garbanzo pea;  ceci bean;  Egyptian pea;  kabli chana  

Substitutes:   Lima beans


Gandules - See Pigeon Pea

Garbanzo - See Chick Pea
Goongoo pea  See Pigeon Pea

Green Split pea
Other Names :  Matar dal
Substitutes: Yellow Split peas,  large Lentils
  Gunga pea  - See Pigeon Peas
  Lentils Click here for information

Pigeon peas
Other Names: 
goongoo pea;  gunga pea;  Congo pea
Substitutes:  Black-Eyed peas,   Yellow-eyed peas

Yellow Split pea
Other Names:  
yellow matar dal    
Green Split Pea,  Black-Eyed peas,   Yellow-eyed peas, large  lentils 

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Types of Dried Beans

Adzuki bean

Other Names:    Azuki bean;   Aduki bean;  Field pea;  Feijao bean  

Substitutes:   Red Kidney beans;   Black Adzuki beans

Anasazi beans    
Other Names  -
Substitutes:   Cranberry beans;  Pinto beans   


Asuki bean - See Adzuki Bean

Azuki bean - See Adzuki Bean

Black Adzuki bean
Other Names: 
Black Azuki bean;   Asuki bean
Substitutes:   Adzuki beans

Black Bean
Other names:   Turtle bean;   Frijole Negro;  Spanish black bean 
Substitutes:   Calypso bean;  Black soybean;  Adzuki bean

Bolita Bean 
Cannellini bean;   Pinto bean;  Chilli bean;  Cranberry bean

Borlotti Bean
Other Names
:   Cranberry bean;     Roman bean;  Fagiolo Romano
Substitutes: Cranberry beans;  Cannellini bean;   Pinto bean;  Chilli bean


Boston bean  -  See navy bean
Broad bean 
- See fava bean
Butter bean  - See Fava bean

Cannellini bean
Other Names: 
White Kidney bean;   Fazolia bean  
Substitutes:   Great Northern bean;  Navy bean;   Flageolets

Calypso bean
Other names  :  
Orca bean;  Ying Yang beans 
Substitutes:  Cannellini beans;  Black bean

Chilli Bean

Other names:     Pink bean   
Pinto beans;   Red Kidney beans;   Rattlesnake Beans 


Cranberry Bean - see Borlotti Bean

English bean - See Fava bean

Fava bean 
Other Names :  Lima bean;   Butter bean;   Madagascar bean;   Ful;  Habas  
Substitutes:     Chickpeas;  Cannellini Beans;   Soybeans;  Navy Beans

NB.   Broad Beans are the fresh (green) version of Fava beans


Field Pea - See adzuki bean

Other Names: 
Great Northern beans;  Navy Beans;  Cannellini beans


Frijole Negro - See black bean
Ful  - See fava bean

Great Northern bean 
Navy beans;  Cannellini beans;  Flageolet Beans;  Lima beans 


Habas  - See fava bean


Kidney Beans  -  See  Red kidney beans
A whole  family of kidney-shaped beans which come in various sizes and colours and  includes  cannellini beans and  flageolets

Lupini Beans
Other Names: 
Fava Beans;  Lima Beans;  Soybeans 


Madagascar beans  -  See Fava beans 
Mexican black bean   -  See black bean. 

Mung bean 
Other Names:  
Mungo bean;  Mung pea;  Green gram          
Pigeon Pea

Navy bean
Other Names:  
Fagioli;   Haricot Bean;  Boston Navy Bean;   Pea Bean
Substitutes:   Great Northern Beans;  Lima beans;   Cannellini Beans


Pea Bean - See navy bean.
Pink Bean   - See Chilli bean.

Pinto Bean  
Other Names: 
Cowboy Beans;  Mexican Beans
Chilli Beans;   Kidney Beans;   Borlotti Beans;  Adzuki bean

Rattlesnake Beans  
Pinto beans;   Chilli Beans;   Red Kidney beans

Red Beans 
Other Names:   
Mexican Red Beans   
  Pinto Beans;  Red Kidney Beans;  Adzuki Beans

Red Kidney Beans
Other Names: 
Red Beans;  Pinto Beans;   Chilli Beans;   Adzuki Beans

Rice Bean 
Rice;    Lentils

Soya Beans
Other Names: 
Soy Bean;  Soybeans

Swedish Brown Beans 
  Cranberry Beans;   Pinto Beans


Turtle Bean - See Black Beans
Wax bean  - See lima bean

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General Cooking

Most dried beans need to be pre-soaked for at least 4 hours, preferably 8 before being cooked as do chickpeas. Some say not to bother soaking dried peas but doing so makes cooking a lot quicker. Lentils do not need pre-soaking.

Once prepared, dried beans should be put into cold water, brought to the boil and boiled rapidly for about 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour 30 minutes. If desired, skim off any foam which forms on the top of the cooking water though this isn't entirely necessary as it is merely water-soluble protein which is released from the beans.

Beans can also be cooked in a pressure cooker which drastically reduces the booking time. Below is a chart showing the comparison in cooking times for a selection of beans

Beans (soaked) Saucepan Pressure Cooker @15lb
Black Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 5 to 8 Mins
Garbanzo Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 5 to 7 Mins
Great Northern Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 5 to 7 Mins
Lima Beans, Large 45 to 60 Mins Not Recommended
Lima Beans, Baby 1 Hr Not Recommended
Navy or Small Whites 1 to 1 Hrs 5 to 8 Mins
Pink Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 6 to 8 Mins
Pinto Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 5 to 7 Mins
Red Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 6 to 8 Mins
Red Kidney Beans 1 to 1 Hrs 5 to 8 Mins
Soybeans 3 Hrs 12 to 15 Mins

Using a slow cooker or crockpot
Unless you have a slow cooker with a "high" setting, cooking beans from fresh, even if they have been soaked, is not advisable. If you have a high setting, try cooking on high for 3 hours then reducing to low and cooking for a further 6 hours. Care must be taken  when cooking on the high setting as a large amount of evaporation will occur so the beans should be carefully monitored to ensure the liquid level is kept topped up.


Cooked beans do freeze quite well although better defrosting results are achieved if they are slightly undercooked before freezing.

Equivalents:  Most beans
1lb dried beans = 480ml/16fl.oz/2  cups dried

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Below are just a few recipes for you to try. To find more either visit our Pasta Rice & Pulses recipe sections (links above) or use the Search Form.


Lentil Soup    HT  SP  40mins

Celery Garlic Soup   HT  SP  Tunisian  80mins

Broad Bean Soup    Veg  HT  SP  Egyptian  90mins plus soaking

Bacon and Split Pea Soup   HT  SP  Canadian  120mins plus soaking

Black Bean Soup Veg HT SP Venezuelan 130mins plus soaking


Main Courses

Buckwheat Lentil Pilaf    Veg  HT  MC  30mins

Chickpeas with Raisins Veg HT MC Moroccan 35mins

Lentil Tagine    Veg  HT  MC  Moroccan  75mins

Balkan  Stew     Veg  HT  MC  90mins

Mixed Bean Casserole   Veg  HT  MC  110mins

Lentil and Parsnip Bake   Veg  HT  MC  120mins

Ful Mudammas



Dhal Potato Curry    Veg  HT  ACC  Fijian  55mins plus soaking

Lyonnaise Butter Beans     Veg    HT  ACC     French     60mins  

Red Beans and Rice     HT  ACC  Creole  Cajun  100mins plus soaking

Pease Pudding    Veg   HT  ACC   British    230mins

Stewed Black Beans      Veg  HT  ACC  Venezuelan  260mins plus soaking

Boston Baked Beans     HT   ACC   N American  285mins plus soaking 



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