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Brown beans are a type of common bean, or Phaseolus vulgaris, often available dried. They are light brown with a small white eye and are harvested from a bush. They are closely related to pinto beans, black beans, cranberry beans, and kidney beans. Because they are native to Sweden and are widely used in Swedish cuisine, these beans are sometimes called Swedish brown beans.
These legumes were introduced to the Americas in the 19th century, when Swedish immigrants brought them to Montana. For this reason, they are popular in Midwestern American cuisine as well as in Scandinavian cuisine. In both traditions, they are typically a home-cooked comfort food. Brown beans are sweet, nutty, and mild, making them ideal for baking or in soups and stews.
It may be hard to find this type of bean in some areas, but natural food stores and Swedish markets often carry them. Like other dried beans, brown beans should be stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. They can keep for up to a year before cooking if properly stored. To prepare these beans, soak them overnight in salt water. After removing the beans and discarding the water, boil five cups of water for each pound of beans, then reduce heat, add the beans, and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours.
In Sweden, brown bean casserole is one of the most popular uses of these beans. The dish is very similar to American baked beans. The beans are sweetened, combined with a hearty meat, and sometimes pureed. Meats commonly served with brown beans include ham, bacon, various types of sausage, Swedish meatballs, and game meats.