Baby lima beans are a subtype of lima beans. Baby lima beans and Fordhook lima beans are the most widely-known types of lima beans. Fordhooks are much bigger and have a bold taste, while in contrast baby lima beans are small with a delicate flavor. Baby lima beans have been cultivated for thousands of years.
The United States and Peru are currently the leading countries in the production of baby lima beans. Baby lima beans grow covered in pods, usually with three to five beans per pod. They are kidney-shaped like many other beans, and very flat. Baby lima beans contain soluble fiber, very little fat, and are free of cholesterol, making them very heart-healthy. Their soluble fiber also helps to slow digestion and prevent constipation.
Their mild taste makes them versatile, and they can be used to complement any side or main dish, soup or salad. For recipes using baby lima beans, visit holy-food.org. Although fresh baby lima beans are difficult to come by, they are worth searching for. Sometimes they are available for purchase at farmer’s markets. While buying lima beans, check the pods for firmness and ensure that they are sealed and dark green in color. The pods should be plump and glossy. Avoid buying cracked, wrinkled, and yellowish pods.
Baby lima beans are also available for purchase in grocery stores, and usually come in sealed plastic bags. If you do not have access to fresh beans or the time to shell them, this is a perfectly fine alternative. Note that baby lima beans are highly perishable, so inspect the bag carefully and pay attention to the expiration date.
Sorting and shelling:
Run water and wash the beans underneath the stream. Spread them on a kitchen towel on the counter so that the towel can absorb the excess water. To shell the baby lima beans, use your thumb to pop open the pod, push the beans up and slide them out. You can experiment with this and find a method that works best for you. Once they are shelled, rinse them under running water again. (If you are using packaged baby lima beans, rinsing them under cold water once is sufficient. Make sure to throw out any cracked beans).
One cup of dried baby lima beans will yield about two cups of cooked beans. Two cups cooked beans is enough to serve about four people. In a pot, place the desired amount of dry lima beans and about four cups of water for every cup of beans. Allow the beans to soak for eight hours.
Once the beans have been thoroughly soaked, discard the soaking water and add fresh water to the pot. You may also use chicken or vegetable stock. Use about three cups of water or stock for every one cup of baby lima beans. Bring the beans to a boil over medium heat. Foam may appear on the surface of the water, and it is important that you scoop it off with a spoon. If you are using water, add a pinch of salt and your favorite seasoning to the pot for some added flavor. Baby lima beans take one to one and a half hours to cook, so check them after an hour. If you are able to smash them with a fork, they are finished.
Baby lima beans are highly perishable. Soaked but uncooked baby lima beans can be stored for three to four days in the refrigerator as long as they are in an airtight plastic container. If they are kept too long they will turn yellowish and wither. If frozen, they can be stored for a week. Cooked baby lima beans need to be used within two days of refrigeration.