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Phaseolus vulgaris – Kidney Beans

Red Kidney Bean, Light Speckled Bean, Red Speckled Bean, White Kidney Bean, Cannellini, Rajma, Lobia, Safaid

Kidney Bean, Red Kidney Bean, Light Speckled Bean, Red Speckled Bean, White Kidney Bean, Cannellini, Rajma, Lobia, Safaid, Phaseolus vulgaris

Full of antioxidants and other healthy nutrients, Kidney beans are a staple of Indian and western cuisine. They are a protein and vitamin-rich meat alternative and can be cooked into soups, chilis, and curries and used in salads and rice-based dishes. Although they look different from the green beans we are used to eating fresh, Kidney beans belong to the same annual species, Phaseolus vulgaris.

What are Kidney Beans?

  • Kidney beans belong to the plant family, Fabaceae, also known as the legume, pea, or bean family, which includes lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts.
  • Kidney beans are native to Peru. Today they are cultivated worldwide. The largest commercial producers are India, China, Indonesia, Brazil, and the United States.
  • Like other bean varieties, Kidney bean plants feature trailing green vines and trifoliate leaves with spade-shaped leaflets.
  • Kidney beans can be grown at home in both bush and pole varieties.
  • Kidney beans are available in late summer and early fall. However, they are most commonly sold in their dried and canned form.
  • Kidney beans fix nitrogen and add nutrients that improve the soil, benefitting the plants that are growing beside them. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users.
  • The color of Kidney beans varies depending on their type. There are four major types of Kidney beans.

4 Types of Kidney Beans

  • Red Kidney beans
    Also known as common Kidney beans, Red Kidney beans are large, plump, blood-red, kidney-shaped beans. They should not be confused with other red beans, such as adzuki beans.
    Red Kidney beans are prized for their sweet flavor and light texture.
    Famous worldwide, they are commonly used in chili con carne and Indian cuisine. Red Kidney beans are also used in southern Louisiana to prepare the classic Monday Creole dish of red beans and rice.
    Red Kidney beans are more toxic than most other beans if not pre-soaked and subsequently heated to the boiling point for at least 30 minutes.
  • Red-speckled Kidney beans
    Also known as sugar beans due to their sweet flavor, they are noted for their long-shaped ivory-white skin, heavily splashed and freckled with red.
  • Light speckled Kidney beans
    Also called sugar beans, cranberry beans, or rose cocoa beans are long-shaped beans in shades of beige, pink or red.
    They are prized for their sweet taste. Native to Mexico and Argentina, they are now cultivated almost everywhere.
    As a result of their high nutritional value, these Kidney beans are used regularly in meals served in schools, hospitals, and other institutional settings.
  • White Kidney beans
    Also called cannellini beans are white in their raw state and maintain their creamy color when dried and cooked.
    When cooked, the beans offer a sweet, nutty flavor and hearty, creamy texture.
    They are a staple in Italian and Mexican cooking.

Cooking with Kidney Beans

  • These gluten-free beans are key ingredients in various dishes, such as bean soup, chili, or rajma curry.
  • Dried Kidney beans should be soaked overnight.
  • Canned Kidney beans do not need to be cooked. You can add them to any recipe for beans without cooking them.
  • Since Kidney beans hold their shape when cooked, they can be added to stews and soups.
  • Kidney beans are an excellent substitute for pinto beansblack beans, navy beanscranberry beans, or cannellini beans.
  • Cooked Kidney beans can be enjoyed cold in salads or made into purées with the addition of oil and served as a dip.
  • Red Kidney beans and rice are a classic Cajun dish that is spicy, hearty, and easy to make.
  • Red Kidney beans must be adequately prepared as they contain a toxic protein called phytohemagglutinin.
  • To ensure that your kidney beans are safe to eat, always soak them in advance. If you are using canned kidney beans, remember to give them a thorough rinse.

Health Benefits of Kidney Beans

  • While Kidney beans make a flavorful addition to various dishes, they can also provide health benefits.
  • Kidney beans are rich in protein and are considered a substantial meat substitute. These proteins benefit the immune system and help maintain healthy bones, hairs, organs, and muscles.
  • Kidney beans are also full of antioxidants, which help fight free radicals.
  • Kidney beans are loaded with fiber, which may help lower bad cholesterol levels and improve your heart health. Fiber also helps regulate the digestive tract and keep your digestive system healthy.
  • They are also rich in carbohydrates and contain folate, zinc, manganese, copper, calcium, and potassium.
  • Kidney beans provide a decent source of iron that can help prevent anemia.
  • Nutrition Facts (per 100 grams): 127 calories, 22.8 grams carbs, 8.7 grams protein, 0.5 grams fat, 6.4 grams fiber.

How to Grow Kidney Beans

  • Kidney beans grow up to 18-72 in. tall (45-180 cm), depending on the variety. They can be grown as a low bush (bush bean) or a vine climbing a trellis (pole bean).
  • Kidney beans perform best in fertile, acidic to neutral (pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0), moist, well-drained soils in full sun (at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day) in a sheltered location.
  • If your soil lacks nutrients, add well-rotted organic matter or compost before planting.
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. Bean plants do require consistent and even moisture once they have formed flowers.
  • Kidney beans are a warm-weather crop and grow best between 65-85°F (18-29°C).
  • Kidney beans are sensitive to frost and will suffer damage from light frost. Beans perform poorly when temperatures rise above 85°F (29°C).
  • Sow seeds outdoors anytime after the last spring frost date after the soil has warmed. At soil temperatures below 65°F (18°C), most bean cultivars germinate poorly and are more susceptible to pests and root rot.
  • Do not start Kidney bean seeds indoors because their roots are fragile and may not survive transplanting.
  • Soak the seed in compost tea for 25 minutes before planting to help prevent disease and speed germination.
  • Sow seed 1½ inches (4 cm), 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm) apart with at least 2 feet (60 cm) between rows.
  • Beans are soil builders. They rarely need any fertilizer during the growing season.
  • Mulch to retain moisture, keep the soil cool, and control weeds.
  • Rotate crops: Prevent problems by not planting beans in the same location more often than every 3 years.
  • Compost plants after harvest. Cut them at the root. The nutrient-rich roots can be tilled back into the soil.
  • Beans are susceptible to a few pests. Keep an eye out for aphids, blackflies, cucumber beetles, cutworms, grasshoppers, Japanese beetles, Mexican bean beetles, root-knot nematodes, slugs, snails, spider mites, stinkbugs, thrips, whiteflies, and wireworms.
  • Beans are susceptible to diseases, including anthracnose, bean mosaic virus, powdery mildew, bean root rot, bean rust, and white mold.

When to Harvest Kidney Beans

  • Depending on the variety, Kidney beans take 100-140 days to harvest after planting.
  • Kidney bush beans mature all at once, but pole beans are harvested continuously, encouraging additional production for a month or two.
  • Kidney beans are ready for picking when the bean pods are straw-colored and feel dry on the outside and hard on the inside.
  • Harvest Kidney beans by cutting the pods using clean scissors or a pruning shear.
  • After you pick the dried pods from the plants, shell them and remove the Kidney beans from inside them.
  • To store, keep fresh Kidney beans wrapped in plastic and refrigerated. For the best flavor, fresh beans should be shelled and used within three to four days.

Best and Worst Companion Plants for Beans

  • Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users. They add nutrients and improve the soil, benefitting the plants that are growing beside them.
  • A good example of companion planting is The Three Sisters Garden. Practiced by Native Americans thousands of years ago, this garden includes corn, beans, and squash. The tall corn provides shade for the lower squash but also stops the squash vine borer beetle. Corn also provides support for the bean plants to climb up. The beans enrich the soil with nutrients for both corn and squash. And the large leaves of the squash vines create a protective mulch that helps retain moisture while suppressing weeds. Another added benefit is the prickly vines of the squash deter the raccoons from stripping the corncobs.
  • Mexican bean beetles can reduce the production of green beans if allowed to multiply. Their damage is reduced spectacularly when beans are interplanted with other vegetables and herbs.
  • Kidney beans can be grown at home in both determinate (bush) and indeterminate (pole) varieties.

Best and Worst Companion Plants for Bush Beans

Best and Worst Companion Plants for Pole Beans

Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals, Fruits
Plant Family Fabaceae
Genus Phaseolus
Common names Rajma, Cannellini, Lobia, Beans
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 6'
(30cm - 180cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
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Alternative Plants to Consider

Phaseolus vulgaris – Cannellini Beans
Phaseolus coccineus – Runner Beans
Vicia faba – Fava Beans
Phaseolus vulgaris – Navy Beans
Phaseolus lunatus – Lima Beans
Phaseolus vulgaris – Pinto Beans

Recommended Companion Plants

Zea mays (Corn)
Apium graveolens var. dulce (Celery)
Solanum melongena (Eggplant)
Laurus nobilis (Bay Laurel)
Beta vulgaris (Beet)
Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)
Helianthus annuus (Common Sunflower)
Solanum lycopersicum (Tomato)
Cucumis sativus (Cucumber)
Satureja hortensis (Summer Savory)
Lactuca sativa (Lettuce)
Pisum sativum (Pea)
Ocimum basilicum (Sweet Basil)
Borago officinalis (Borage)
Nepeta cataria (Catnip)
Matricaria recutita (German Chamomile)
Prunus persica (Peach)
Lavandula angustifolia (English Lavender)
Monarda (Bee Balm)
Tropaeolum (Nasturtium)
Tagetes (Marigold)

Find In One of Our Guides or Gardens

Bush Beans or Pole Beans – Which One Should You Grow?
Best and Worst Companion Plants for Bush Beans
Best and Worst Companion Plants for Pole Beans
Why Beans Are Good for Your Health
Nitrogen-Fixing Plants to Enrich your Soil
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.
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Requirements

Hardiness 2 - 11
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, A1, A2, A3, H1, H2
Plant Type Annuals, Fruits
Plant Family Fabaceae
Genus Phaseolus
Common names Rajma, Cannellini, Lobia, Beans
Exposure Full Sun
Season of Interest Summer (Late)
Fall
Height 1' - 6'
(30cm - 180cm)
Spread 1' - 2'
(30cm - 60cm)
Maintenance Average
Water Needs Average
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained
How Many Plants
Do I Need?
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Phaseolus (Beans)
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