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Is there an alternate name for "Great Northern Beans"? Or a good substitute?

Because she couldn't find them anywhere, a friend asked a question here a few hours ago -- asking where to buy Great Northern Beans. But as she wants to buy them today -- in NYC -- so I think she asked the wrong question.

So maybe the right question to ask is "is there another name for Great Northern Beans"? Or possibly, "what are the characteristics of Great Northern Beans and what would make a good substitute in a recipe?"

While Peter no longer works for Food52 he still thinks up ways to make the website better.

asked over 7 years ago

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11 answers 228051 views
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added over 7 years ago

She could try navy beans or cannellini. I imagine the bulk bins at Whole Foods would have them

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F4a2a164 2e55 4f56 9893 6206670f595e  dscf3013
added over 7 years ago

Yeah, I think any white bean will do.

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B0f2c3df 9bf7 43fc 8544 eb75ba85a60e  kay at lake
added over 7 years ago

Navy beans are a bit smaller, cannelini a bit larger, but I can't make a big difference in the taste. I tend to prefer navies, myself. But I can't imagine not being able to find Great Northern -- I can usually get them even if a store doesn't carry navies or cannelini

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2b00435b fe24 44bb afe2 ad3364f28f79  1390710 10151917400148928 1193325941 n 1
added over 7 years ago

Navy beans and Cannelini will do in a pinch, but I know a lot of people who will only use Great Northerns because they swear they make a difference in their version of baked beans. Personally, I use whatever is most convenient, my local Winco sells them in bulk bins.

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C0d1f1de 4134 43ba 9510 1d7a8caa31f3  scan0004
added over 7 years ago

Another alternative is baby limas.

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E0cc9d5c 6544 49fb b0e4 5c150d9ac0f7  imag0055
added over 7 years ago

Navy beans or yellow eye beans.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
added almost 4 years ago

Are these what we English call butter beans? I.e. Bigger than cannellini/haricot beans ?

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jic
added 7 months ago

No, butter beans are a type of lima beans. I don't think great northern beans are widely available in England.

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added 7 months ago

Butter beans, cannellini beans, haricot beans, lima beans and Great Northern beans are all cultivars of the same species Phaseolus vulgaris which also includes other common beans such as red kidney beans and black turtle beans.

Horticulturist Oscar Will allegedly received the Great Northern beans from a Hidatsa Indian in the late 19th century. Will was instrumental in preserving some of the heritage cultivars.

https://www.camelliabrand...
https://www.mypatriotsupply...
http://ndstudies.gov/gr8...

Unless you buy seed packets from the USA, it is unlikely that one would find Great Northern bean cultivar in the UK. The cultivar is commonly planted in the Great Plains states in the USA, but less commonly elsewhere.

Any white bean is likely a good candidate for replacing the Great Northern bean.

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23b88974 7a89 4ef5 a567 d442bb75da04  avatar
jic
added 7 months ago

Butter beans and lima beans are Phaseolus lunatus, not Phaseolus vulgaris.