Saturday, September 22, 2012

Cooking Purple Hyacinth Beans

Though my family has enjoyed the bountiful harvest of Purple Hyacinth Beans I have stir-fried, they really prefer the English beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) such as “Blue Lake” that you buy fresh, frozen, or canned from the store. The cooking method to make the Purple Hyacinth Bean (Lablab purpureus) taste like an English-type bean is the same as the method I use for Chinese Long Beans, though the Hyacinth beans must be cooked for a shorter amount of time. In short, I blanch them.

Purple Hyacinth Beans Ready to Cook

Blanching requires bringing a pot of water to a rolling boil and making the water very briny with a generous amount of salt (at least ¼ cup of salt per 2 quarts of water).  

Add plenty of salt to the boiling water

Once you have the beans ready and the water boiling, set the timer for 3 minutes and dump in the beans.

Stir the beans after 2 minutes just to make sure both sides of all beans are blanched.

Beans should turn a green color, as shown below.

Most - but not all - beans will turn some shade of green

Finally out the beans using a colander and serve with butter or eat plain.

Not so purple Hyacinth Beans ready to eat

While some people may scoff at the idea of losing so many minerals in the water or having to prepare so much to blanch the beans, I feel blanching the beans is time well spent to have my children enjoy eating their veggies.


  1. Hi we have that beans too, however we saute it and not just blanch. It has a characteristic scent which i don't like if just blanched, but i know that it is the best way to retain more nutrients.

  2. I hope to try these next year along with my Kentucky Wonder pole beans... whatever way you can get kids to eat veggies is great...

  3. I love these beans Asian Indians make them with curry. I take a spoon of olive oil add crushed garlic and mustered seeds if u have them handy cook a few sec add one cup of beans cut into half and a cup of potato cubes. add salt, turmeric (very good antiseptic and cold reliever) and a pinch of chili powder and 1 tbs of cumin powder. Cover a cook till potatoes are tender. Add a pinch of sugar and garnish with cilantro leaves. Try this with steamed rice its heavenly

    1. Thanks for the cooking ideas and recipe, Alpa! I love cumin! That sounds delicious.

  4. Do you not have to worry about them being poisonous/toxic ???

    1. They become poisonous when the inner seed dries with a black seed covering. Until then, they are completely safe in their immature (green) state. Though you can stir-fry them, I don't care much for the taste - so I prefer to blanch them.

  5. They are indeed poisonous. Boil once, drain, boil again eliminates the toxin. Find Indian recipes for safe results.

    1. Dear Dan,

      The dry seeds of the Purple Hyacinth Beans are poisonous, but the immature tender green pods are not. They are much like Chinese Long Beans in taste, but with a little bit of a fuzzy texture to the seed pod - kind of like soybean seed pods.


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