Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Some Clarity on Legumes, Haricots, and Nuts

I first ran across "legumes" (beans) and "haricots verts" (green beans) in my high school French class, but probably during different lessons. In the last 10 years or so, I've seen a lot of "legumes" in print.

I got curious enough recently to poke around the web for improve my knowledge about beans. The following sites dispense basic information.

"Legumes: Beans, Peas, and Lentils" provides characteristics differences—"Beans, peas, and lentils are all seeds that grow in pods. We can tell the difference by their shape." The site also provides overall preparation guidelines.

"The battle of the beans: Which are best?" lists and describes 11 common variety of beans.
Beans are part of a food category called legumes and grow in pods then are shelled and dried. Other legumes are peas, which are round and generally sold fresh or frozen, and lentils, which are flattish and round, are sold dried, and come in various tones of gray, green and coral. Beans are either round, kidney-shaped, or oval shapes with varying degrees of size and thickness.
"List Of Legumes - Healthy Protein" describes legumes as "plants that bear their fruit in pods, which are casings with two halves, or hinges". The site lists the following plants to be legumes—beans, lentils, peas, peanuts, and features four columns of names.

Big eye-opener for me—peanuts are legumes, not nuts.

"List of Legume Foods" lists the same four plant edibles, but also explains that peanuts are mistaken for nuts, a different class of vegetable. Further details about nuts are at "Are Cashews Nuts or Legumes?"
Highly diverse in size, shape, texture and flavor, nuts are the seeds of nut trees. All nuts grow encased in a shell, and in some instances, the shell is contained inside a fruit or outer husk. … Much like nuts, legumes are the nutrient-dense seeds of leguminous plants. These seeds are encased in pods, some of which are edible.
During my browsing over beans, questions popped up that I wanted to find answers for and share.

* What's the difference between green beans and haricots verts?

"Green Beans vs. Haricots Verts: What's the Difference?" states the following:
haricots verts tend to be skinnier than traditional green beans, and are also more expensive. … they’re also more tender and flavorful than comparably sized traditional green beans. They’re also younger than traditional green beans.
* Are refried beans fried and refried?

Yahoo's "question about refried beans" yielded a couple of feasible explanations:
We came up with 'Refried Beans' from the Mexican word 'frijoles refritos'
The re- in refrito doesn't mean 'again', as in the beans being fried again. In Spanish, the re- in front of the word for fried means the beans are fried strongly or very well.
Refried beans are the same fried beans BUT with a little more cooking oil or lard; also the lenght [sic] of cooking is extended a few more minutes until the oil or lard soak the beans and turn them browner.
Funny thing is that recipes I've run across call for mashing the beans. Seems this food should be called mashed beans (puré de frijoles).  

* Why are black-eyed peas seldom referred to as black-eyed beans rather than peas? Peas, such a green peas, are spherical.

I've not found definitive answers for why these beans are commonly called black-eyed peas but not black-eyed beans.

From "Why are black eyed peas called peas when they are clearly beans?", a plausible answer seems to be "Jamaica, where a very popular dish there is Jamaican rice and peas. But, the 'peas' are actually small red beans that are the same size and shape as black-eyed peas, but red like kidney beans."

"The battle of the beans: Which are best?" seems to hedge bets by referring to these legumes as both peas and beans—"BLACK-EYED BEANS (black-eyed peas)".

* Are black beans in Mexican food the same as black beans in Chinese black bean sauce?

No. "Is black bean sauce made from black beans?" explains that "black bean sauce is made from dried, fermented soybeans, which turn a dark brownish-black during the curing process".

* What's with the fancy name "edamame" for soybeans?

"Edamame - What is Edamame?" differentiates these two types of soy beans.
Edamame is young soybeans, usually still in the pod. Because the beans are young and green when they are picked, edamame soybeans are soft and edible, not hard and dry like the mature soybeans which are used to make soy milk and tofu.
* Are the red beans for making red bean paste in Asian food the same beans as for red beans and rice?

No. The US Dry Bean Council's "Bean Varieties" site lists separate entries for adzuki and small red beans.

"How to make Red Bean Paste" shows how to make paste for Asian recipes. Although the video owner does not mention moon cakes, they are a major dessert that uses red bean paste.

"Red Beans and Rice" calls for small red beans. Numerous other recipes on the Web call for kidney beans.

* Split peas resemble lentils more than they do green peas. What's up with that?

"Relationship between split pea and green pea" specifies
the split pea and the green pea are one in the same. The split pea can be either a green pea or a yellow pea. Green split peas are identical to green peas. The difference lies in how they are processed. Both are the seeds of Pisum Sativum. To make a split pea, the green pea is peeled and dried. The skin is removed and a natural split occurs in the cotyledon. The split can be further exaggerated manually or mechanically.
* So, how do lentils differ from split peas?

"What's the Difference Between Split Peas and Lentils?" shows images side by side and explains:
Split peas are field peas, which are a variety of yellow or green peas grown specifically for drying. … Lentils are pulses, which are the dried seeds of legumes. There are two main groups, the large ones with flat seeds, and smaller more rounded ones.
* Pulse WRT lentils? What's a pulse, and how does it pertain to legume?

"What is a Pulse?" states that pulses are the edible seeds of plants in the legume family. It further explains and contrasts "legume" and "pulse":
The term "legume" refers to the plants whose fruit is enclosed in a pod. … Pulses are part of the legume family, but the term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed. Dried peas, edible beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses.
* What are Mexican jumping beans, and what makes them jump?

From Wikipedia
seed pods that have been inhabited by the larva of a small moth (Cydia deshaisiana) and are native to Mexico. The "bean" is usually tan to brown in color. It "jumps" when heated because the larva spasms in an attempt to roll the seed to a cooler environment to avoid dehydration and consequent death.
Read further details and view images at "The Jumping Beans Life Cycle". Also view the short video explanation at "Why Do Jumping Beans Jump?".

The jumping beans don't whet my appetite. However, all this poring over bean info makes me want to cook beans, such as the pinto beans in my pic (and the rest of the one-pound package).


JLF said...

Informative and amusing as always.

whilldtkwriter said...

Thx for compliment! About a week later, I soaked the pinto beans overnight, rinsed the next day, and boiled & seasoned them. Parceled them out and stored packets in freezer. Found out when reheating, that they seemed to have continue to absorb fluid during the freezing process, or something. Needed to add some fluid during reheating process. Weird.

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