It's amazing that there are so many different kinds of beans. Each region appears to have its own unique kind. But just as there are many different kinds of beans, there are also many different names for one kind of bean. Yet, calling a spade a spade is preferable, just to make sure we know what we are talking about.
Do you know that game where you have to guess who someone is pretending to be, based on indications that the other player gives? You might think this would be a fairly simple game for all those beans varieties. They are all pretty around, are large or small and have a specific and often easy to describe color and design.
Do you feel like playing? OK, let's start. Who am i: I'm medium, have a light beige color and I am adorned with dark pink speckles and stripes. "Yes!, a borlotti bean." I hear you calling. And you could well be right, but I could just as well have been a pinto bean, lapwing bean or cranberry bean. Or do we have to do with a pintoboon who is undercover and hides behind the name borlotti bean?
Beans sometimes have a double passport and in some cases is justified, but in other cases it is really a different variety and they would actually have to have their own passports.
Borlotti beans, pinto beans, cranberry beans and lapwing beans. they all fall under the ordinary beans: phaseolus vulgaris. But ... pinto beans are in fact lapwing beans. These beans are medium in size, have a light cream color to beige and dark pink to light brown speckles and stripes. The taste is somewhat sweet with a firm structure. Lapwing beans (Kievitsbonen in Dutch) are sometimes called pinto beans, which is their English translation and hence the confusion of tongues. They are popular in the United States and Mexico.
The cranberry bean looks very much like the pinto bean but they are not the same. They have the same shape and about the same size. The colors are a bit lighter. The taste is softer and milder than that of the pinto bean. The borlottibonen are a variety which is closely related to the cranberry bean. The borlottiboon has a somewhat firmer jacket than the pinto bean and the taste is pretty nutty over the cranberry bean.
To spread some more confusion, I will throw in some additional names. The borlotti bean is also known as roman bean, rosecoco bean or sallugia bean. This, naturally, depends on in which country you are located in and this applies to each type of bean, as names can differ per language.
So, what does it really matter? Well, it is nice if we can agree on what bean we are talking about. And of course, there are minor differences in taste and texture, but you will not commit great crimes or mistakes in the kitchen if you try the pinto beans instead of borlotti beans in your recipe.