Cooking lima beans

Cooking lima beans means just pod 'em and pop them into boiling water.

Pods of lima beans on the plant just waiting to be cooked.

This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 7th August, 2019.

By Bernard Preston

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but I've never seen fresh lima beans on sale. There are three possible reasons that I can think of. The growing season is long; at least two months. Then reaping the pods is time consuming. And thirdly, podding them is finicky.

So, if you want to make sufferin succotash and enjoy the most delicious green bean, then you have to learn about growing lima beans.

They are definitely my favourite bean in the garden, partly because they can be cooked in just five minutes and the flavour is without equal. They go on bearing for months.

Reaping and podding them is a laborious business. Here my granddaughter is giving me a hand; she loves finding the beans in the pod.

And she's learning about doing things with her Baa, the value of slow food, and how to grow lima beans; and about that other lifestyle that so many of us in the West have deserted, to our peril.

Rather than visit the psychologist for your stresses and anxieties, try growing lima bean plants. They will slow you down, and bring joy and contentment.

Yes, the shelling is a slow business. But you know, the things you and a four-year old can chat about over a pod is priceless. For me certainly, and for her too, I suspect.

Grandparents have more time for the mites than their busy mums and dads. 

Soon we will be poring over the lima beans soup recipe. Already she is learning to type on my lap, send emails, and copy and paste photos; have you time for your grandchildren?

Podding lima beans is not difficult, before cooking, but like knitting can be done whilst chatting to a friend; children can easily do it.

Toss them into a pot, cover with boiling water and bring to the boil, and simmer until tender; about fifteen minutes.

And now the mess of pottage has a rich flavour without equal; but you will have to wait for the lima beans soup recipe.

You are unlikely to have someone ask you at a cocktail party if you have had adequate molybdenum today, a trace element, like you might be quizzed over your vitamin C or zinc.

However, molybdenum is, along with zinc, selenium and copper, vitally necessary for utilization of oxygen in the cell, DNA and RNA reproduction, destruction of the free radicals that cause malignant disease and sustaining the integrity of all cell membranes.

More interestingly, lima beans contain a significant amount of L-dopa, a precursor of the neurotransmitter that is in short supply in those suffering from Parkinson's disease.

However, broad beans are even better, and more controlled studies have been done; for many two tablespoons per day would suffice instead of taking the medication.

Cooking lima beans

Cooking lima beans and the real blessing of this healthy living food; much more than suffering succotash.

Lima beans about to be cooked in the pot.

A deficiency causes vague symptoms like malaise ("I'm just not feeling well"), loss of appetite and low level obscure neurological symptoms like tingling in arms and hands which are very difficult to diagnose.

On the other hand, toxicity from too much of these minerals also causes serious illness with flu-like symptoms, odd Central Nervous system signs, nausea, diarrhoea, and anemia. Equally difficult to diagnose. The rule of thumb is: get most of your minerals and vitamins from your food, eating from as wide a spectrum of foods as possible.

Lima beans simmering in a pot.

Lima beans are particularly rich in molybdenum.

Half a cup of lima beans contain 100% of your molybdenum daily requirements.

Now try out lima bean soup.

Vegetable protein

Legumes like lima beans are the best source of vegetable protein; cooking lima beans gives you access to this lovely food that enables you to reduce your dependence on red meat.

Half a cup of lima beans contains one sixth of your daily protein need, a quarter of your fibre, and is rich in other important minerals such as iron and magnesium, vitamins such as folate and 10% of thiamine (vitamin B1, a deficiency of which causes generalised muscle weakness.)

  • Vegetable high in protein

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Lima bean soup.

"Beans beans are good for the heart
The more you eat them the more you fart!
The more you fart the better you feel
So eat your beans with every meal!"

- Neenah's son (4 years old)

There are many different varieties of Lima Beans, yes, indeed they come from South America. Spanish conquistadors wrote not only of the abundant silver found in Peru, but of the delicious beans they found in Lima. Healthy living direct from the very deep south.

When growing lima beans avoid those with pink veins, they are rather tasteless and starchy, but the little green ones are my favourite. They are very sweet and of course perfect for your sufferin' succotash recipe ... a delic and healthy corn and beans recipe.

Fried onions and lima beans

Are beans fattening?

I love to fry half an onion in butter with a little chilli, perhaps some chopped tomato, and then add the limas and other beans such as these favas. After it's sizzling, add a little water and cook for five minutes.

Then you can toss some greens like broccoli in; poach an egg on top and it makes a magnificent breakfast.

Nitrogen fixation

Growing and cooking lima beans does your garden, as well as you, a great favour. Legumes like lima beans have biological nitrogen fixation bacteria attached to their roots, obviating the need for artificial fertilisers. The element is the foundation of the amino acid building blocks of protein in your body, and all living animal tissue. 

Healthy choice foods

Enjoying a wide range of foods, perhaps including cooking lima beans, is the only way to make sure we aren't deficient in some unknown mineral, vitamin or phytochemical. It's impossible to go chasing after each one of these. Could I be deficient in molybdenum? It's an absurd thought and we should rather be concentrating on healthy choice foods on a daily basis.


Particularly, at this page on green beans, look out for the report from the Woman's Initiative on the grave dangers of taking post-menopause hormones: cancer, leaking bladder, early senile dementia...

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Bernard Preston

Bernard Preston is a semi-retired chiropractor with a background in physics; he is passionate about preserving our environment for our children's children. He collects and stores solar power and rainwater, grows organic fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and bees. He is the author of four books.

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