Great Northern Beans


The great northern bean is a large white bean that resembles a lima bean in shape with a delicate distinctive flavor.


Other names: White Bean
Translations: Ziemeļu Pupas, Great Northern Pupelės, Fasole mare de Nord, Veliki sjeverni grah, Great Northern Fasola, Great Northern Bonen, ग्रेट उत्तरी बीन्स, Feijão Grande do Norte, Северная фасоль, Μεγάλος Βόρειος Φασόλια, الفاصوليا الشمالية العظمى, 그레이트 노던 콩, Velká severní Fazole, Great Northern beans, 大北豆, Great Northern Fižol, Veľká severnej Fazuľa, Fagioli Great Northern, הגדול שעועית הצפון, Great Northern Bönor, Велики северни Пасуљ, グレートノーザンビーンズ, Haricots Great Northern, Great Northern Bønner, Північна квасоля, Suuri Pohjan Pavut, Великата Северна Фасул

Physical Description

Great Northern Beans are a delicately flavored white bean related to the kidney bean and the pinto bean.
The common bean is a highly variable species with a long history. Bush varieties form erect bushes 20–60 cm tall, while pole or running varieties form vines 2–3 m long. All varieties bear alternate, green or purple leaves, divided into three oval, smooth-edged leaflets, each 6–15 cm long and 3–11 cm wide. The white, pink, or purple flowers are about 1 cm long, and give way to pods 8–20 cm long, 1–1.5 cm wide, green, yellow, black or purple in color, each containing 4–6 beans. The beans are smooth, plump, kidney-shaped, up to 1.5 cm long, range widely in color, and are often mottled in two or more colors.

Colors: white

Tasting Notes

Flavors: sweet
Mouthfeel: Silky
Food complements: Ham, Cornbread
Wine complements: Red, Crisp white
Substitutes: Navy bean, Cannellini, Lima beans

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: Select solid beans with no blemishes, should be firm to touch.

Preparation and Use

Dried beans are almost always cooked by boiling, often after having been soaked for several hours. While the soaking is not strictly necessary, it shortens cooking time and results in more evenly textured beans. In addition, discarding one or more batches of soaking water leaches out hard-to-digest complex sugars that can cause flatulence, though those who eat beans regularly rarely have difficulties with flatulence as intestinal microbes adjust. There are several methods including overnight soaking, and the power soak method, which is to boil beans for three minutes, then set them aside for 2–4 hours, then drain and discard the water and proceed with cooking. Common beans take longer to cook than most pulses: cooking times vary from one to four hours but are substantially reduced with pressure cooking.

Conserving and Storing

Dry beans will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but as time passes, their nutritive value and flavor degrade and cooking times lengthen.


History: Other white beans include Cannellini, a fairly popular variety in Central and Southern Italy which is related to the kidney bean and like the kidney bean has higher levels of the toxin lectin (Phytohaemagglutinin). A notable Greek type of giant white beans exists, called yiyantes or gigantes (Greek: γίγαντες). They are produced in a specific part of northern Greece (protected label) but can be found throughout the country.



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