Lima Beans in our A-Z - Cooking Index
The Lima Bean is a bean native to Southern and Central America. They get their name from when they were first exported, the boxes in which they were being carried had the words Lima-Peru written on them and hence they gained the name Lima Beans.
Lima beans vary in size but the most common is large, flat and white although they can be much smaller and green in colour. They can be used in bean salads, soups and stews.
Raw Lima beans contain linamarin which is a cyanogenic glucoside and poisonous; once they are cooked they become safe to eat. Dried beans should be soaked overnight and then cooked in boiling water until tender. Most time-pressed chefs buy lima beans in cans when they are pre-soaked and cooked. To get the best cooking experience from these beans it is wise to open them some time before you to intend to use them, wash the beans thoroughly under cold running water and then soak them in a large bowl of water. This helps remove the flavour of the soaking liquids and also the metallic taste the beans often pick up from being stored in the can.
Lima beans are also known as butter beans (especially in Britain).