Pea beans, which are also commonly referred to as navy beans, are white in color and usually no larger than a pea in size. They are actually the seeds of the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris. Pea beans are considered very nutritious because they contain lots of soluble fiber and protein. Additionally, pea beans do not contain much cholesterol or fat, so they tend to be a recommended diet food. These beans probably originated in South America, and they likely became popular throughout the rest of the world around the 15th century.
It is considered best to wait until there is no danger of frost before planting pea beans. Preparing the ground typically involves working in a 5-10-10 fertilizer to about an 8-inch (20-cm) depth prior to planting. The beans should normally be buried at least 1.5 inches (4 cm) in the ground and spaced about 4 inches (10 cm) apart. These beans produce flowers during spring or summer, and it may be necessary to add a 33-0-0 fertilizer to the plant at that time. Once the pea bean plant has dried out completely, which usually happens in late September, the beans are ready to harvest.
There are many different uses for navy beans in recipes. They are a very popular addition in many soups, dips, and are occasionally even used in barbecue recipes. Before cooking, it is typically recommended to sort through the beans and throw away the ones that are misshapen or have an odd color. Pea beans should be rinsed prior to cooking, and it normally takes about one to two hours of boiling these beans in water before they become soft. Some people let the beans soak in water overnight before cooking so that preparation time will be faster on cooking day.
Historically, pea beans were a very popular staple for sailors and other people who traveled on ships. This is probably because they tend to be very easy to store and almost never spoil. When these beans are kept under the right conditions, they could last for an indefinite amount of time. The main concern with storing pea beans or any other type of bean for extended periods of time is that stored beans are at great risk for insect infestation and tend to take longer to soften up during cooking. This is why it is very important to store all types of beans in an airtight container.