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I recently came across some fresh black beans at my local farmer's market. It was the first time I had seen black beans that weren't either canned or dried.

I'm sure the fresh beans will cook faster and not need to soak, but are there any other differences I should know about? How will the resulting beans cook compared to dried beans? Will they also taste different? Are some dishes suited more to fresh beans than dried?

What about other types of beans since fresh Cranberry and Lima beans were also at the market?

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Taste

Fresh beans are sweeter on the palate. They also have a "fresher" quality to them. The best example of this is the difference between a fresh pea dish and a split pea soup. Both can be delicious but the fresh pea dish might be sweeter and have a more floral, aromatic quality to them.

Dried beans can slightly more grainy, but this can be mitigated via cooking methods.

Cooking

Because the fresh beans are more tender, they cook much quicker than dried beans. Roughly 20 to 30 minutes versus the 1-3 hours for dried beans.

The skin of fresh beans are both tender and sturdier than dried beans. They hold up better when cooking so typical bean-issues like burst and broken skins are much less of an issue. The fresh beans hold up to early salting, turbulent boiling water, and vigorous stirring because of the strength of the skin.

Nutrition

I couldn't find much research on the topic other than how many nutrients dried beans retain rather than lose. The general consensus seems to be that dried beans retain much of their nutritional value.

Much of the water-soluble nutrients of beans can leak out during the soaking and cooking process but provided that one also consumes those liquids it's easy to enjoy the benefits.

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There is a difference in texture. Dried beans tend to be slightly more grainy. This is based on my experience cooking fresh borlotti beans and comparing them with dried ones. The skin on fresh ones seemed more tender and they kept their shape better. However this was a very direct and critical comparison with both beans next to each other. I imagine it would be harder to draw these conclusions if you don't have the beans cooked next to each other.

There is also a nutritional difference; dried goods lose most of their water soluble vitamins. These include vitamins B-complex and C. Although neither vitamin is present in great numbers in beans.

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