I've been looking for nutrition facts for beans (bought in bulk, doesn't have a label) I bought but couldn't find which type there are. It took me quite a while to recognize them as pinto beans. Also different sources differ way too much when it comes to nutrition data, I'm sure they don't have 22 calories per 100grams, as some sources state.

So my primary question is:

How many basic types of beans are there and how do you distinguish them from one another? Second question is: do they differ a lot nutritionally? And final one, can you freeze beans?

Thank you for reading.

  • 2
    Does en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bean help? They have plenty of pictures. Nutrition information too. If that doesn't help, could you narrow your question down a little?
    – derobert
    Apr 7 '15 at 21:48
  • 1
    For freezing, see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/20706/… ... in short, yes, you can freeze them. (Of course, dried beans don't need to be frozen until you've rehydrated them)
    – derobert
    Apr 7 '15 at 21:51
  • 2
    This question shows no research effort.
    – Beach
    Apr 8 '15 at 3:46
  • 1
    Another hint: Some sources give nutrition data based on dried beans, others on cooked/canned. That might explain the difference.
    – Stephie
    Apr 8 '15 at 6:57
  • I'm going to close this as too broad: "how do I identify all types of beans?" is definitely a broad question, and "can I freeze them?" has been tacked on as well. I'd suggest asking that one separately, but looks like the question derobert linked covers it pretty well.
    – Cascabel
    Apr 13 '15 at 21:53

How many basic types of beans are there

There are hundreds of different bean cultivars. Some countries sell predominantly 2-3 types of bean in the supermarket, but which type is sold varies from country to country. If you are eating beans from a farmer's market, all bets are off.

How do you distinguish them

There are reference books for agriculturists and system biologists which contain detailed descriptions and pictures of different plant cultivars for a species. You could try finding a reference work for beans and looking them up there, but many cultivars look very much alike, and with only the seeds available, even the experts are likely to have a high error quote. Trying to do such a recognition requires lots of effort, has a low success rate, and serves no good purpose in the kitchen.

Do they differ a lot nutritionally

It is hard to say, as the difference between closely related cultivars will be larger than the difference between less related ones. But if you are thinking that you can get a single calorie count per cultivar, forget it.

Sources state nutritional info based on a measurement they have made, and it is hopefully the average of many measurements made. But unprocessed foods vary a lot between batches. Did the bean grow in the sun or in the shade? What was the soil composition, how much fertilizer did it get, how much water and sun? How ripe is it? How much time has gone since it was picked? Water evaporates and vitamins get destroyed over time. Both the calorie content and the ratio of nutrients will vary considerably between exemplars of beans (or melons, or fish, or whatever natural food).

If you have found calorie counts which are a lot different from each other (say one is 3-4 times higher) then this is probably a difference in the state of the food and not between cultivars. It is possible that the 22 calories are for fresh beans or cooked beans and higher counts are for dried raw beans. Or with beans, it could even have been a number for green beans (picked unripe). Also, sometimes calorie databases contain mistakes, I have seen the same database give a higher calorie number per ounce of hazelnuts than per 100 gram of hazelnuts. But if the difference is not so much (up to 100% maybe), I'd assume that it is more of a matter of variance between batches.


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