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Butterbeans - An All Star Protein Packed With Surprises

Updated on March 22, 2016

Butter Beans Also Known As Lima Beans

Sit yourself down and get ready for a "Ta-Da" moment. I am about to introduce you to a food that will knock your socks off. It is one of the healthiest foods you can eat, it's cheap, easy, quick to prepare and can be frozen for convenience. A member of the legume family, it is the butter bean, also known as the lima bean.

Now before we begin our lesson on this wonder-food, I must officially thank our fellow hubber, billrrr, for giving me the idea to write a hub about butter beans. It all happened when he asked me this question in a comment, " what is a butter bean? "

Birth of baby butterbean
Birth of baby butterbean | Source

Butter/Lima Beans Are Full Of Nutrition

The butter bean was discovered in Lima, Peru, (hence the name Lima bean.) It is one of the oldest of the bean family dating as far back as 5000 B.C. Packed full of fiber, one cup of cooked lima beans provides 13 whopping grams. And low in calories, one cup is only 216.20 calories. You'll feel full and satisfied and completely guilt free.

Lima beans are good sources of the following nutrients:

  • folate,
  • protein
  • potassium
  • iron
  • copper
  • phosphorus
  • magnesium
  • thiamin.

Yes, the butter/lima bean is one of the healthiest foods in the world offering a creamy texture and a buttery taste. Once you try these delicious mighty morsels, you will be begging for them often.

Where The Butter/Lima Bean Originated

How To Grow Pole Butter Beans

Growing your own butter beans is very easy to do. Just make sure you wait until the frost season is over before planting your seeds.

  • First, prepare your soil ( compost/fertilize. ) making sure the soil temperature is at least 55 degrees F to help the seeds germinate. You don't want them to rot, which happens if the soil is to cold.
  • Then plant your seeds 1 inch deep and 6 – 10 inches apart.
  • Cover seeds and water thoroughly. You should see some sprouts in about 1 – 2 weeks. At this point I begin singing to the baby sprouts. I'm not sure if it helps them grow, but I enjoy doing it. And before long, you will want to provide a pole for the beans to climb up.
  • Water the beans evenly as they don't like dry conditions and won't grow well, however do not over water as this will "stunt their growth". Provide good drainage too.
  • Begin to harvest these wonderful beans when the pods are plump and still bright green. And I always allow a few pods to turn brown before I pick them for planting the next year.

From my local Kroegers  - good eatin's straight from the can
From my local Kroegers - good eatin's straight from the can | Source
Butterbeans with olive oil,oregano, turmeric and black pepper
Butterbeans with olive oil,oregano, turmeric and black pepper | Source

A Quick, Easy Recipe

The quickest way to serve butter beans is straight from the can. If you're in a hurry, here's all you do.

  • Using a small to medium size skillet - Pour a tablespoon of virgin olive oil and sautee a couple of cloves of garlic. Do this rather quickly so you keep the nutritional values of garlic from cooking away.
  • Immedietly add the entire can of beans to the garlic and olive oil using a medium heat.
  • Add dry oregano ( to taste ), ground peppercorns and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Stir and cook only until heated (about 3-5 minutes.)
  • Serve hot in a soup bowl with warm sweet rolls dripping in butter. ( I use yogurt butter .)

Growing Bush Butter Beans

If you prefer growing butter beans in a bush form, which is even easier than pole, this is all you do:

  • Plant seeds in hills following directions below. These will not require support and they don't need as much care, plus they can be picked as soon as they are ready to cook or freeze.

These types of beans typically produce an earlier crop; therefore, successive plantings may be necessary for a continual harvest.

  • When bush beans are planted in hills, they should be about an inch deep and approximately 2-3 inches apart.
  • For rows, plant the beans at the same depth with spacing about 18-24 inches apart.
  • Once the seedlings begin to develop true leaves, the plants can be thinned to six inches apart. If the area you are in stays quite humid, allow more space between the plants for better airflow.

And that's it. How easy it is to plant your own butter beans. And how convenient to be able to by-pass the market and pick your own beans right in your own back yard.

Spice it up or spice it down.
Spice it up or spice it down. | Source

3 Important Tips for Cooking Beans

  • If you soak the beans overnight it helps to reduce "gas" and bloating.
  • Be sure to thoroughly rinse beans before cooking.
  • Experiment with a variety of seasonings and vegetables.

Butterbean, Chorizo and Thyme Stew


  • 350g Canned Butter Beans
  • 225g Chorizo for Cooking
  • 2-3 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 5 Garlic Cloves
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 1 cup Red Wine ( optional )
  • 400g Can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon Thyme Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Flat Lead Parsley
  • Salt ( I use sea salt )

  • Cut the chorizo sausage into thin slices, finely chop the onion and thinley slice the garlic.
  • Put the olive oil into a pan and heat over a medium a medium-high heat until the garlic begins to sizzle.
  • Add the chorizo and cook until the slices are lightly browned on either side, then add the onion and continue to cook until it has softened.
  • Add red wine and cook until it has reduced to almost nothing.
  • Add the canned chopped tomatoes, thyme, butter beans and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Scatter over the parsley, spoon into deep warming bowls and serve with some crusty fresh bread.


Good Old Fashion Ham Hocks And butter Beans

This recipe was one of my favorites when I was a little girl. Oh, my, how I loved picturing a bowl of mama's bean soup, bubbling on the stove as I hurried home from school.

The following recipe does well in a crock pot or stove-top. Here's all you need:


  • dry butter beans
  • ham hock
  • chunks of ham or diced
  • brown onion
  • ground peppercorns

Soak beans overnight. Rinse well and pour into medium/large soup pot. Add water to cover beans plus 6-8 cups more.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and add ham hock and ham chunks. Cook for 15 minutes stirring often, then add the rest of the ingredients.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook with a lid on pot until beans are so tender that the skins begin to fall off. Stir often to keep from burning and add water as needed. Cook to desired thickness.

Salt is not needed as the ham will have plenty.

I like to serve this in thick bowls with pineapple slices on the side.

Refrigerate any leftovers. They are even better the second day.

The Butter Bean

The butter bean, the butter bean

Will keep you full and keep you lean

Cheap to buy and easy to make

Boil ‘em in a pot when you first awake

Cook them with veggies, turkey or ham

And add some hot biscuits with jelly or jam

They’re full of nutrition to help keep you healthy

With the money you save, you just might get wealthy

So try a few recipes all through the year

Eat as much as you like with no guilt or fear

And if your partner gets grouchy or mean

Just give them a hug and the good butter bean.

© Audrey Hunt 2011

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© 2011 Audrey Hunt


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