Bean Varieties

Now that you know all the reasons you should eat plenty of beans, let’s take look at the bean varieties and how to grow them successfully. Beans come in two basic edible types:

  • Snap or green beans
  • Dry or shell beans

Snap – Snap beans, also called stringless or green beans, are the beans most people think of when talking about fresh beans. These are so tender, juicy and crispy that you’ll be tempted to consume them straight from the vine. Snap beans lack the strong, fibrous growths that many dry beans contain within their pod, making them infinitely easier to eat fresh.

Some popular varieties of these include Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake, Kentucky Blue, and the French “haricort vert” varieties.

Photo courtesy of fab4chiky at

Dry or Shell – The beans in this category dry in their pods and can be harvested and stored for cooking much later. They must be shelled, then refrigerated, frozen or allowed to dry, depending on the bean type.

Favorites in this category include pintos, cowpeas, black-eyed peas, field peas, purple hulls, cream peas, and southern peas. Note that the “pea” varieties mentioned are actually beans.

Many dishes such as refried beans, a popular Mexican food dish, or black beans, popular in Cuban cooking, are made from dried beans. Unlike the juicy snap beans, eating these beans from the vine is not recommended — unless you need a good flossing. Most dry beans have strong, fibrous pods which prevent them from being eaten fresh.

Photo courtesy of NotQuiteSonic at

You can find most dried bean varieties in local grocery stores. Different types of dried beans require different preparations, but many dried beans must be rinsed, soaked and cooked very well. See dangerous beans.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

alex 05.05.11 at 9:16 am


I was given seeds of a variety of bean called ‘Ziki’ bean- probably a local name.
It’s supposed to be a small variety of bean and i think it’s a shell bean (but i’m not sure..)
I couldn’t find any information about it on the web and I was wondering if you are familiar with this variety and could share some information about it?

Thank you very much!
Gedera, Israel.

Joe 02.01.12 at 11:32 am

I would like to know more about the “Macuna” bean as well as availibility in South Africa.

Many thanks

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