Whether you call them navy beans or Boston beans, haricots are found to be the most common beans in the United States and Britain. They are consumed either in fresh or dried forms. Dried haricot beans can be stored up to one year, provided that they are kept in cool and dry places. Do not get confused with haricot verts, which is an alternative name for immature green beans (or French beans).
What are Haricot Beans
Haricot beans are cream or whitish-colored beans, used as staple ingredients in preparing homemade baked beans. The scientific name for this bean variety is Phaseolus vulgaris. Also known by different other names, they are small-sized, oval or flat beans, sold in grocery centers. As with other types of beans, dried haricot beans require soaking for at least 6-8 hours prior to cooking. This reduces the preparation period and effort needed for making some delicious haricot dishes. Soaked beans are also easier to digest, when compared to the dried version.
Haricot Beans Nutrition
As we all are aware, pulses and legumes contain high percentage of proteins and carbohydrates. The same nutrient data is applicable to haricot beans. Serving 100 g of dried haricot beans provides 21.5 g proteins, 45.5 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fiber and 1.5 g fats. Other highly appropriated haricot beans nutrition facts are the presence of high amounts of calcium (about 180 mg in 100 g beans) and iron (about 6.8 mg in 100 g beans). In short, haricot beans are good sources of mineral nutrients required for normal functioning of the body.
Coming to calories, a half cup serving of cooked haricots provide 100 calories. However, this calorie count may vary, depending upon the ingredients used in cooking. Considering their nutrition facts, it won't be wrong to say that these ubiquitous beans are staple food items for pure vegetarians. Low in saturated fats and sodium, the health benefits of haricot beans are reducing intestinal problems, lowering cholesterol and controlling blood pressure.
Cooking Haricot Beans
While purchasing white haricot beans, avoid pale colored or discolored beans. These indicate poor preservation conditions, which in turn reduce the nutritional value of haricot beans. If you are planning to prepare haricot dishes, make sure you pick through beans for removing unwanted stones and impurities. Following this, consider soaking beans in enough water overnight or all day long, so as to soften the skin and flesh of beans. Rinse the soaked beans repeatedly to get rid of preservatives (if any).
Preparing haricot beans dishes is no different from the basic dried beans recipes. The key step in haricot beans recipe is boiling beans with water, until they turn soft or the skin pops up. You can mash beans and check for their readiness. After this, stir-fry vegetable ingredients, which you have selected (e.g., onions, garlic, tomato, etc.) and add cooked haricot beans. You can add vegetable or chicken stock for making a savory soup. Simmer for some time, add seasoning spices, salt and pepper. Your haricot beans soup is ready for serving.
Speaking about haricot beans substitute, you can use cannellini, great northern beans and lima beans. If you have a vegetable garden, consider growing haricot beans in sunlit areas. They are high productive crops and easy to maintain. So, even with minimal care and maintenance, you will get a good yield. Another advantage of haricot beans growing is that they help in increasing the nitrogen content of soil. Allow haricot beans to mature in the vines and harvest them when the shells start drying.