When cooking fresh lima beans, remove the outer hull if the bean isn't shucked, and choose beans that have firm, crisp pods. Beans that are shucked should be sorted before cooking. Discard any beans with discolored or soft spots. To make creamy, buttery lima beans, boil the beans in water with onion and a piece of bacon until the beans are tender. Allow the water to evaporate, and add cream. Heat until the cream thickens before serving the beans.
Wait until the beans are cooked before adding salt, as salt toughens the bean's outer shell. Expect to cook lima beans with dry or leathery outer shells for a longer amount of time than those with fresh shells. Lima beans are typically simmered in liquid, but can also be roasted.
When roasting the beans, blanch them for one minute, and drain the liquid before cooking the beans in the oven. Avoid eating lima beans raw, and cook the beans with the lid off for at least a portion of the cooking time. This helps remove the cyanide compound that is naturally present in lima beans.
Another option is to drain the cooking liquid after the lima beans are tender. Store lima beans in the refrigerator, and cook them within three days to ensure the beans are fresh.