Beans, butter

Creamy, rich and buttery—these legumes make the heartiest of meals.

Alternative Name

Lima bean, yellow snap bean, yellow string bean, yellow wax bean

Scientific Name

Phaseolus vulgaris


Butter beans are similar in shape to regular green beans but they are naturally a creamy yellow colour. Butter beans are sometimes called snap beans because of the sound they make when pods are broken—they 'snap'. The complete pod and seeds are eaten although the ends can be trimmed. In some countries the term 'butter bean' is used for a large, flat and yellow white variety of lima bean which is often dried or canned.

Information for farmers+

Beans should be harvested when the fruit is bright green, the pod is fleshy, and seeds are small and green. Beans should be well formed and straight, bright in colour with a fresh appearance, and tender but firm. They should snap easily when bent. Decreased quality during postharvest handling is most often associated with water loss, chilling injury and decay.

Postharvest storage temperature
Optimum storage is 5–7.5°C. Lower temperatures result in chilling injury—opaque discolouration, pitting on the surface and rusty brown spots. Higher temperatures result in faster deterioration. Beans stored at >10°C lose chlorophyll, soften and shrivel more so than those stored at <10°c.>

Controlled atmosphere storage
At recommended storage temperature, O2 concentrations of 2–5% reduce respiration rates. Beans tolerate and are benefited by CO2 concentrations between 3–10%. Higher CO2 concentrations can cause off-flavors.

Ethylene sensitivity
Exposure to ethylene causes loss of pigment and increased browning.

Humidity storage
Packaging creates a high relative humidity and reduces water loss to maintain better overall quality. The rate of water loss of immature beans is higher than for mature beans and varies with cultivar.

Disease & infection
Various pathogen decay occurs after beans have been damaged. Surface decay may also occur if free moisture is present in storage at >7.5°C.

Preparation & Storage+
Peel and remove shell before use. Keep in vegetable drawer of fridge.
A good source A good source –  1 serve provides 25% of RDI or 4g of fibre A source A source –  1 serve provides 10% of RDI or 2g of fibre

Veggy tip

Butter beans make a great dip with fresh herbs like basil or mint, or smashed with olive paste.