View Full Version : Butter Beans(anyone from Georgia out there?)
April 25th, 2006, 12:55 PM
My grandmother's favorite meal is Butterbeans on cornbread with chow-chow. It's a meal her grandmother, who came to Texas from Georgia, also enjoyed. Butter beans are very large lima beans cooked with butter and a dash of red peper We've always bought the dry beans, but lately Gran's been saying that in Georgia, they eat the butter beans fresh, the way we eat black eye peas. (I'm not sure where she's getting her information or if it's accurate). She'll be sitting there eating and say, "I sure wish these were FRESH butter beans. *sigh.* By the way, how's your garden comming along?"
So looks like I'll be growing lima beans for the first time this year. The problem is that I don't know what variety to grow to get those big, white beans. They're about 1" long by .5" wide dry and cook up much, much larger. I would just plant them out of the bag from the grocery store, but I don't know if they're bush beans or vine-type or if they're hybrids.
Another problem is that I'm guessing the ideal planting date is right about now.
April 25th, 2006, 01:15 PM
Hey Sookie;Send me an Email or a PM with your Mailing address and I'll send you out the ones That I have.Your Grandmother is right,the fresh ones do taste way Better.
April 25th, 2006, 01:50 PM
Yeah, fresh can't be beaten.
But you're granny has it reverse of most people. Butterbeans and the small limas are usually used as synonyms, and are both the same species (Phaseolus lunatus), whereas the large limas are a different species.
Chances are the grocery store beans are a bush variety; most commercial dry beans are, because being essentially determinate it makes harvesting much simpler. Odds are 12:7 that they're a hybrid, too.
Still and all, it wouldn't hurt giving them a try to see what happens.
April 25th, 2006, 02:07 PM
Just one suggestion though.
Everyone like'em different, but try not letting them get full grown. Baby Butter Beans are better.
At least to me.
April 25th, 2006, 03:07 PM
BTW, although it won't help you this season, you might plan on attending the AHSC Fall Conference in October. Among other speakers will be John Coykendall, who's a real authority on butter beans. He's got a fairly extensive collection of them (seed for which he'll have available during the conference), and knows more about growing butter beans than any other two people I know.
The AHSC Fall Conference will be held October 6-8 at the Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Center in Berea, Kentucky. Non-members are welcome.
April 25th, 2006, 05:11 PM
Is the info on the Annual Conference in the Brochure? I don't think I'll be able to make it in October (previous commitment), but it's something to consider for future.
April 25th, 2006, 05:28 PM
Not the specific dates and location, Wen, because it changes year to year.
April 26th, 2006, 07:26 AM
Sookie, here in the south a lima is a lima and a butterbean is a butterbean. Lima are white to light green, butter beans are brown to red/purple. They taste completely different. Two popular butterbean varieties are Jackson Wonder and Christmas. When I was young my grandparents grew a butterbean variety called half-dollar, a very large butterbean. Eaten fresh or canned/frozen but never dried. Limas on the other hand are often dried for keeping. Both need hot weather and a long season. Butterbeans were so popular in the south there once was a hit country song about 'Good Ole Butterbeans'.
April 26th, 2006, 12:12 PM
Hey Sookie;Check your PM.
April 26th, 2006, 08:43 PM
Well, I am in Georgia and our butterbeans are white and large.Unfortunately I have no idea what variety you would grow since the ones we cook here are not fresh either. Maybe you should try growing the ones from the store. Just a thought.
April 27th, 2006, 01:13 PM
Wow! This is all so interesting and helpful! I see now that the hard part in using these forums is not to post lengthy essays. All of this has got me thinking about food and culture and region. Looks like there MIGHT (might!) be an upper south vs. deep south division in the definition of what butter beans are, with the smaller ones being common in the upper. That's a little wierd to me because my linguist, historian and geneology-buff friends all assure me that the vast majority of Texas's populace and dialect came from the upper south, and here butter beans are large and white. It's not just my family, with it's 130 year old Georgia connection, that eats them that way.
The "half dollar" variety sounds promising, and I've been eyeing the Christmas Limas in the seed catalogs for years. They'll probably have to wait til next year, though.
Brook, The AHSC conference sounds like a hoot but I'm not sure I can manage a thousand mile drive this October. I'll be doing good if I ever make it to MO for one of the Baker Creek things.
jets, when was 'Good Ole Butterbeans' popular?
And, just out of curiosity, how do ya'll fix and eat the butterbeans? Is the chow-chow universal or is that a Texas thing?
April 27th, 2006, 01:41 PM
I don't know about universal, but they eat 'em with chow-chow in eastern Kentucky.
April 29th, 2006, 11:21 AM
Hey Sookie;I sent Christmas along with the other seeds that I mailed yesterday.They also taste great in the green stage.
I am from TX and the ONLY place I encountered small Butterbeans was in S.Florida,in the '70s.I have since collected about 40 varieties of small Butterbeans.I'll have more to share at the end of Summer.(I mean summer for you,here it goes on until after Thanksgiving.
May 1st, 2006, 04:06 PM
I live in Georgia between Columbus and Atlanta, I planted April 15. I bought a speckled butter bean, pole variety 3 years ago. I bought it because it was half off because it was a year old, so I planted it in a light, rich, soil (cow/chicken poo and milled peat moss), 10 seed to a hole. It came up quick and most seeds sprouted. I planted it on the west side of a chain link fence that boarder my raised beds. A great crop, but I only planted 5, because I did not think the old seed would sprout, so I just harvested the beans for seeds and planted them again last year and stand back momma! I saved three dozen for this year and ate the rewards, really great taste. Here,s the onion, I lost the name of the bean! Sorry.
May 8th, 2006, 03:11 PM
Thanks so much for the seeds, Z! I'm especially excited about the Christmas Limas. I'd bet money that's the name of the ones you're describing, finnteara. They look just like the butter beans I've always known but have reddish blotches. I planted them right away along my tallest trellis.
Sometimes my enthuasim gets the better of me, though. I should have asked first:
How far apart should they be planted?
What's required if I want to save the seed? I've only saved seed from one kind of bean before, and that was when it was the only one I was growing.
May 9th, 2006, 12:19 PM
Hey Sookie;The regular space for Beans is fine.To save seed let some of the pods,towards the end of the season dry on the Vine.Look through Castalogs like Burpee and try to find a hybrid Bean or Pea.If these plants readily crossed there would be alot of hybrids available.I have never had any crosses in the thirty years of OG gardening.Some people say they will cross,but again try and find a hybrid Bean that is not GMO.
May 9th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Listen to Zebraman, Sookie.
It is almost impossible for common beans to cross naturally. Reason is that they are self pollinating, and actually drop their pollin the night before the flowers open. Thus, the pollin is just not available to pollinators 99.99999999999999999% of the time.
When new varieties are offered they are developed through selection, not through crossing.
However, I disagee with Zebraman on two small counts. One is that you _will_ see catgalog beans idendtified as hybrids. This is an intentional attempt to mislead you into believing you cannot save seed. You can.
The other has to do with peas and non-common beans. Some of them do, indeed, cross. Runner beans will cross, for instance, if you look at them cockeyed. So to will limas (i.e., butterbeans). However, if you're only growing the one variety, there is nothing for it to cross with. And, thus, nothing to worry about.
A note on saving seeds. In the ideal world, you let the pods dry on the vine, then shuck the seed from them. But conditions are not always ideal. Sometimes humidity or rain, for instance, will cause the drying beans to sprout in-situ.
If you're faced with such a problem, keep in mind that seed becomes viable as soon as it is fully filled out. You can't always tell when that is. But, as soon as the pods change color, and start turning leathery, the seed has developed as much as it's going to. You can pick the pods anytime that happens.
What I do is shuck them, then, into baskets and let the seed continue to air dry, turning and sifting the seed a couple of times a day. To tell if the seed is dry enough, put one on a hard surface and strike it with a hammer. If it shatters, it's ready to be put up. If it just short of mushes down, it needs more drying time.
May 11th, 2006, 01:51 PM
Thanks, Brook and Z. :) I'll be careful not to look at my runner beans cockeyed. ooooooh, but now I'm tempted.
As for humidity and rain causing problems------ I wish. It's usually so dry here your spit can't reach the ground.
However, might the plants produce more if I pick the pods in the "leathery" stage rather than letting them dry on the vine? or is is sort of a definitional thing: once the seeds are mature enough for saving, they're mature enough for the vine to decide it's done with the job of reproduction?
And here's a stupid question:
My limas can't cross with non-lima beans, can they?
May 11th, 2006, 02:32 PM
First off, there are no stupid questions---except the ones you don't ask.
Limas cannot cross with non-limas. They're different species, and sometimes even different genuses.
Anytime a bean vine is growing it will strive to achieve it's maximum biomass load. So if you pick beans in the leathery stage, or even when dry, the plant will set new flowers and pods---providing weather conditions allow. In most parts of the country, by the time this happens frost will interfere with flower/fruit set.
Given your conditions, I would harvest as many beans as I wanted, then, later in the season, just let the remaining ones dry on the vine. Beans average 5-8 seed per pod, to give you a rough idea of how many to save for next year, and for trading.
May 11th, 2006, 10:53 PM
hi what is chow chow and there was a fat boxer named butterbean :D :p :rolleyes:
May 14th, 2006, 09:16 AM
Chow-chow (at least around here) is a Dutch relish made of pickled cauliflower, pepper pieces, carrots, celery, onions, kidney beans or french hort beans, green and yellow snap beans, and maybe some corn in a sweet vinegar pickle. If you like sweet pickles, you'll like Chow-chow.
I guess I should explain about Dutch. I live in PA Dutch country. The "Dutch" people are really Germans who settled here during the early 1700's When the English settlers asked their German neighbors where they came from, they answered "We're Deutch", meaning German. There are still a few mainstream people, like my father, who speak Pennsylvannich Deutch, as well as the Amish ,Brethren, and Mennonite sects. Unfortunately, like many in my generation, I never learned, and the tongue is rapidly dying.
May 15th, 2006, 11:16 AM
Ha ha ha. Too Funny! I was procrastinating replying to mrtomato's post because I was afraid I'd start a controvery about what chow-chow REALLY is. I thought it'd probably be different all around the South. Then I saw a recipe and a picture in a cookbook that really threw me: Pennsylvania Dutch Chow-chow. It seems to be about what redbrick described, and it's totally different from Chow-chow here. Looks good though!
Here chow-chow is a green tomato, onion and cabbage reslish/chutney. One or two hot peppers are added to each batch for just a little heat, and some sugar for sweetness. Some people put in a dash of allspice or celery seed or whatever they think makes THEIR chow-chow extra special. It's made in the fall with all those poor green tomatoes on the vine that don't stand a chance of ripening before the first freeze.
We never seem to be able to make enough of it. One year I gave a jar to my Northerner in-laws (big sacrifice, you understand). Despite my detailed instructions on how to use the percious ounces, they put it in burritos. Then they said, "That salsa tasted funny. We didn't particularly like it." :eek: A-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h!! Reminds me of my German friend who pointed to a big jar of Pace picante sauce and told me it was the worst spagetti sauce he'd ever had. :)
You really ought to learn Penn Deutch, redbrick. Or make sure your kiddos do. :)
I'm going to try this recipe for Pennsylvania Chow chow. Do you eat it as a side------kind of like a cold salad?
May 15th, 2006, 06:57 PM
Yep, that's exactly how you eat it! I think it's really tasty, but I have to warn you: around here, salt is a spice! Dutch food tends to be heavy and rather bland. But it sticks with ya!
I did try to learn when I was a kid, but I don't have a gift for language, and my dad isn't the greatest teacher. All I learned was the stuff I shouldn't have! Did you know that in Dutch, thunder weather is a swear word? It's spelled Donderwether and pronounced "doennervedder". Here's another little tidbit for you. If you ever see Amish Gnuttle beans offered, gnuttle (pronounced noeddle, oe sounds like should) is Dutch for rabbit turd! By the way, that's what the beans look like.
May 16th, 2006, 01:56 PM
Hey Sookie, that's what we call chow-chow here in tennessee also. Man, that stuff is the bomb, the cats meow and pure gold. Only the homemade stuff is considered real, just like the difference between homemade salsa and store bought. it don't compare!
May 17th, 2006, 10:08 AM
Looks like every family called butterbeans and limas something different. In my family, the large pale beans were limas, as were the small pale white or green beans. Brown, speckled, and other dark small beans were called butterbeans. The large Christmas bean is called a butterbean. I was brought up in Alabama and live in GA now. We got dried limas...the big white ones, at school for lunch sometimes. I didn't then, and don't now like dried beans much, but oh, my!...fresh butterbeans or limas can't be beat! With or without chow-chow!
November 2nd, 2006, 01:31 PM
November 2nd, 2006, 05:44 PM
I buy dried large and small for baked beans. Fresh limas are good and if you want them you better grow them, can't buy fresh around here. But now I am confused,
are limas and butterbeans one and the same?
G. Gordon Gumbo
November 3rd, 2006, 11:32 AM
Good Gawd Almighty ... y'all is makin' me H-O-N-G-R-E-E !!!
Buttah Beans ... YUM YUM.
Even better ... SUCCOTASH!
Or Brunswich Stew with them buttah beans, corn, maydurs, taydurs, chicken, squirrel, and ground hog. Good Lawd, I'm droolin' out both sides of my mouth and my tongue done started slappin' the roof of my mouth like my brains is gonna jellify.
November 4th, 2006, 07:54 AM
Hi mrt - chow chow is a pickled mass of leftover whatever ya got vegetables, so good to accompany other foods. By the way, I was always told Chow Chow was a Pennsylvania dutch recipe! I'd love to find the true origin of it.
November 4th, 2006, 08:31 AM
Here's a Dutch website (not Deutsch ;) )that I found the other night while doing a search for Carnival squash. I sent it to a Dutch friend from work to ask her to translate something and she told me that if you just click on the variety that you want to look up, it will translate itself into English.
Might have some interesting beans in it? (I'm partial to Dutch brown baking beans myself.) It certainly has enough veggies in the listings!
November 4th, 2006, 09:02 AM
Now that's a hill of beans! In fact, they have a lot of everything. They even list 'Peter Peppers.' ;) It didn't switch to English for me, but it's not too hard to translate once you recognize a variety...
November 4th, 2006, 10:39 AM
Naw, maybe she got lucky and picked items that had a good English description, cuz I found the same as you John. But I agree that with a little thought, it's easy to figure out. I even found my Dutch Browns on there. :)
November 27th, 2006, 04:35 AM
This ol' Jawja Boy loves butterbeans!
Throw a chunk of sidemeat in the pot and boil until the beans are mushy.
I love chowchow, but most of the time I just dash a little shot of peppersauce on 'em.
Gotta have the cornbread with 'em , too and a slice of ripe 'mater don't hurt none!
Gotta stop and dry the keyboard (agin!) :D
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