The pinto bean is a variety of the common bean in the legume family: Phaseolus vulgaris. It is native to Central America and Mexico. There are also hybridized versions called “black beans.”
In other parts of the world, the pinto bean was known as “pinto” or “red-beans” due to its reddish color when cooked. This name led to the popular American dish of pinto beans and rice which originated in California.
In general, pinto beans are in a pale beige color, with patches of red or reddish-brown and white spots.
When they are cooked, they turn reddish-brown. They have very soft flesh which is often used in salads.
Why are my pinto beans white?
The great northern bean which is white in color is often misunderstood as pinto beans because they are used in some recipes as a substitute for pinto beans.
This could be the reason why some people think pinto beans are white in color when they are naturally in a light beige color with red patches.
How to tell if pinto beans are stale?
Pinto beans can have a strong odor that is characteristic of stale beans. Stale pinto beans also tend to have a gritty texture.
To test if your pinto beans are stale, smell and taste them. If they are stale, they will taste sour and feel gritty in texture. Stale pinto beans also turn dark when cooked. Fresh pinto beans are light-colored and should not smell like ammonia or gunpowder (artificial).
Tips when buying pinto beans
When purchasing pinto beans, check that the outer skin is smooth and intact. Look for the dried beans to be fresh, with a slightly greyish hue and no tears.
Avoid buying pinto beans that are discolored brownish or blackish brown. The dried beans should feel dense and heavy. Pinto beans that are old will feel light in weight, and should not have a strong aroma.
What should I look for when sorting pinto beans?
Not a lot of people know that sorting pinto beans is a big part of the process. When you sort your pinto beans, you’re actually looking for broken, deteriorated, or discolored beans.
You’ll also want to look for any debris like stones or husks that may have been mixed in with your beans. The goal is to remove these beans or debris from your pinto beans before they are used for cooking.
How to store pinto beans?
Keep fresh beans in the refrigerator. If they are left too long, their skins will harden and they will not cook properly. Pinto beans should be kept refrigerated for 5 to 7 days or canned for up to 6 months.
What beans are closest to pinto beans?
Navy beans, cannellini or Great Northern, and butter beans are all similar to pinto beans. Brown beans are kind of like pinto beans but run closer to lima or kidney beans.
The darkest bean that is considered a type of pinto bean is black turtle beans. Kale, asparagus, lentils, and rice are all different from one another while their similarities may not be discernible at first glance.
So if you are looking for a substitution for pinto beans, then try using one of these.