Butter beans

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Butter Beans or Lima Beans

Butter Beans or Lima Beans. Butter Beans are are large, white and flat. They taste a bit like mashed potato - starchy and buttery. Butter beans a very good source of dietary fibre and protein, as well as vitamin B1 and B6.

Prep times are quite long for dried butter beans. Tinned butter beans are fine, although schools used to serve them and it was a form of culinary torture. To prepare butter beans from scratch:

They must be pre-soaked overnight. Drain the butter beans and place in saucepan. Cover with about 2 litres of water. Bring to the boil, simmer and cook for 1 hour until the butter beans are tender. Skim off the scum that develops on the top of the water when the pulses begin to cook.

Butter Beans have to be well pre-soaked. They contain constituents that inhibit digestive enzymes and can cause red blood cells to clump up. Soaking denatures these nasty chemicals.


Beans last for a good length of time, but do toughen with age, so buy in smallish quantities. If you buy in bulk, check for dirt and insects as these are not uncommon and should be anticipated. Store somewhere dark and cool, and free from potential insect contamination. Tins are a godsend to any cook as they are quick to prepare and long lasting.

Further reading

  • Christian, G. (2005) Real Flavours: the handbook of gourmet & deli ingredients, Grub Street. ISBN 1904943209.
  • Stobart, T. (1981) The Cook's Encyclopedia: ingredients & processes, Harper & Row. ISBN 0060141271.