Canning Lima Beans

Bowl of raw Lima beans

Canning lima beans are a great way to preserve beans for quick meals in the future. The canning process eliminates the pre-soaking and cooking process, which always saves a significant amount of time! It allows you to control the sodium levels in your meals, while also taking advantage of the fantastic prices of beans in the summer and fall.

Whether fresh, dried, or from a can, Lima beans are an excellent choice and a nutritious part of a healthy diet.  Loaded with vitamins and minerals, fiber, and protein, Lima beans were discovered in Peru roughly 4000 years ago in the western Andes.  It wasn’t until the 1300s that the bean spread to the rest of the world.  

Other names for the lima bean are butter bean, garrofon, chad beans, or double beans.  There are several varieties, including: dwarf, small, and large.  They are grown vertically and attached to poles, or closer to the ground as a bush.  Lima beans are often white but can also be: yellow, brown with purple specks, red speckled, and white with purple or brown speckled spots.  

Fun Facts

  • April 20th is National Lima Bean Respect Day in the United States
  • Lima beans are very nutritious, as you will find out in a minute
  • They are named after the city of Lima, Peru
  • Japanese cooks use lima beans to make a sweet bean paste
  • Spanish cooks use garrofon (lima beans) in paella
  • Flowers of growing lima bean plants attract bees
  • Americans consume an average of 0.3 pounds per person per year

Nutrition

Human hand holding a plate full of fresh raw lima beans

Lima beans are packed with essential nutrients.  Here is a breakdown:

Nutrition (per 1 cup of cooked lima beans):

  • 216 Calories
  • 39 grams Carbohydrates
  • 13 grams of Dietary Fiber
  • 14 grams Protein
  • 0.7 grams Fat

Vitamins and Minerals:

  • 1-milligram Manganese
  • 156 micrograms Folate
  • 955 milligrams Potassium
  • 4.5 milligrams Iron
  • 0.4 milligrams Copper
  • 209 milligrams Phosphorous
  • 0.3 milligrams Thiamine
  • 80.9 milligrams Magnesium
  • 0.3 milligrams Vitamin B6
  • 1.8 milligrams Zinc
  • 8.6 micrograms Selenium
  • 0.8 milligrams Pantothenic Acid
  • 0.1 milligrams Riboflavin
  • 3.8 micrograms Vitamin K

Health Benefits of Lima Beans

Tapas lima beans with iberico ham from Spain on wood
  1. One serving of lima beans provides one-quarter of your daily requirement for iron.  Iron is essential for healthy red blood cells, and so lima beans are incredibly helpful with iron deficiency issues, such as anemia.
  2. Lima beans contain 13 grams of fiber per serving.  This helps with digestive issues, including stomach ulcers and constipation.
  3. They have 15 grams of protein per serving.  Meat is often the most popular way to add protein to a meal, and protein is an essential building block for meal preparation. Lima beans are great alternative as they are an excellent source of protein and can help with muscle growth, regulate blood sugar, and even aid in weight loss. 
  4. Pregnant women need folate. Adding lima beans will get to you 40% of the recommended daily value, which is excellent for mothers and babies.  For those not expecting, folate also helps with DNA replication and metabolizing vitamins in the body.

Cautions About Lima Beans

bowl of white giant beans

There are a few reservations people have about lima beans. 

  1. Some people do have allergic reactions to beans.  If you are allergic to soy or have had trouble with beans in the past, check with your doctor to see if consuming beans are ok.  If they say yes, still use caution to see how your body reacts.
  2. Do not eat raw beans; take the time to soak and cook them. Canning fresh lima beans or canning dried lima beans reduces the compound linamarin in raw beans, which is essential for removing the toxins.  Cooking lima beans makes them safe to consume and increases nutrient absorption. 
  3. Many people are concerned with beans and gas.  Start by drinking plenty of water before and after your meal, and eating beans in small amounts to get your body used to the extra fiber. Follow other tips and tricks such as these outlined for lentils and gas, the same concepts apply to any beans.

Growing Lima Beans

Fresh Lima Bean or Phaseolus Lunatus

If you have garden space, lima beans are a great crop to plant.  They are similar to green beans, in that they have a fast-growing cycle and pods on a vine.  Alternatively, you can grow lima beans in a pot and add stakes for the vines to grow vertically to save space. Lima bean plants like full sun exposure, warm temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees, and consistent watering.

Fresh vs. Dried Lima Beans

We’ll talk about fresh and dried lima beans, and how to use either when it comes to canning.  Fresh lima beans come right off the vine, whereas dried lima beans need to have moisture removed.  

Fresh and dried beans can be purchased at farmer’s markets, at your local grocery store, or through mail-order sources.

Storing Lima Beans

A jar of white lima beans spilled over on a stone counter top.

Store fresh lima beans by canning, freezing, or drying; store dried lima beans in a glass jar with a lid in your cabinet or pantry, or by pressure canning.

There are a couple of ways to dry beans:

  1. Leave the beans in their pods on the vine for as long as possible.  When crisp and dry, pick them, take them out of their shells, and store them in airtight jars in the pantry.
  2. Pick fresh beans at their peak freshness, rinse them in cool water, place them in boiling water for about 3 minutes, spread them on a tray, and dry them in the oven or a dehydrator.

Freezing Lima Beans

colorful frozen vegetables in a supermarket in the refrigerator

Blanch them the same way you would for drying, then dry them on a towel, or freeze them on a tray to prevent them from sticking together.  Next, place them in a freezer bag in the freezer for about nine months.  If you vacuum-seal the beans, they will last safely over a year.

Canning Lima Beans

Delicious homemade canned Italian zolfini beans in a glass jar close up isolated on a white background

Preserve fresh or dried lima beans for a quick meal later on.  We’ve prepared two guides – Canning Fresh Lima Beans and Canning Dried Lima Beans to get you started.

Using Canned Lima Beans

Cod, sweetcorn and broad beans succotash

Here are several options for using lima beans

  1. Succotash is a popular dish in the southern United States.  Its main ingredients are corn and lima beans.  
  2. Baked Beans recipes often call for lima beans, along with a sauce.
  3. Creamed Lima Beans add heavy whipping cream and butter to make a delightful sauce.
  4. Lima Bean Dip purees cooked lima beans with garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  5. Add lima beans to soups and stews.
  6. Heat them and eat them plain!

Can some Lima Beans Today!

Canning lima beans is easy.  They are also a great addition to your pantry for quick meals.  Beans add fiber and variety to your diet.  What’s your favorite way to use lima beans?

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