Friday, December 6, 2013

How to Cook Dried Beans

Black beans and rice
Beans, beans the musical fruit, the more you eat the more you... toot!?

Beans are power houses of nutrition, at a minimal price.  Beans have B vitamins, calcium, potassium, and folate. 

Are you looking to lose weight?  Beans contain leptin, which helps your appetite decline while raising your metabolism!

Do beans have to make you toot?  Not if you prepare them correctly!

Soaking beans helps make them digestible by removing the complex sugars from the outer coating of the beans, and so reducing gas.

Soaking beans also reduces cooking time, preserving more of the nutrients.

"...soaking the beans is the only way to clean them and remove the accumulated surface dirt, bacteria, and nasty stuff like insect larva, rodent contamination, and any fertilizer or pesticide residues that might be present -- what the industry politely calls 'field dust' -- none of which you'd likely want to eat." (source)

By far I think the most important reason to soak beans is the resulting nutritional benefits.  To really get the most nutritional value out of beans you absolutely have to soak them.

Beans have something called phytic acid in them, which keeps much of the nutrients in the beans from being properly digested and absorbed into your body.  If you can't digest it then you aren't getting the nutrients from it.

When dried beans have been soaked with whey, lemon juice, or baking soda, then they release phytase. The phytase is what allows the nutrients in the beans to be well absorbed and used by the body.

How to Soak Beans:

1)  Pour the beans into a large pot and pick out any foreign particles (this is a natural product, sometimes tiny rocks or small bits of dirt get in with the beans.
2)  Rinse the beans off 1-2 times in cold water to clean them.
3)  Cover the beans with cold purified water till the water line is 1-2 inches above the beans (less water for smaller beans and more for larger beans as they take longer to cook).  Add 2-3 tsp. of baking soda, whey, or lemon juice.
4)  Let the beans soak for 1-2 days before cooking them to allow time for the phytase to be released, changing the water in with the beans 1-3 times a day (I usually do it at night and in the morning).  If this isn't done the beans will begin to ferment.

Foam skimming

5)  Drain the water and add new water to the pot.  Bring the beans just to a boil, then reduce the heat till it's barely simmering.
6)  Skim off foam as is boils up, that's the phytic acid you want to get rid of.  Then add any seasonings you would like to include.
6)  Depending on the size of the beans they should take 1-2 hours to cook.  Add more water if the water line reaches the beans.  The beans are done when you can squish one against the side of the pan.

This may sound like a bit of work, but it isn't much trouble to change the water and do some other activity while the beans are cooking.

When I make black beans I just dump in spices I'm used to using, but here's an attempt at the measurements for you.  We use these in tacos, burritos, and any other type of Mexican dish.

1 lb. dried black beans
1 Onion diced
2 Tbls. of cumin
1 tsp. of dried oregano
1/8- 1/4tsp. cinnamon
Salt to taste, start with 1 tsp.
1/2 tsp. Paprika (optional)
Fall Chili

The result is enough beans to feed our family of five people a good source of protein for 1 1/2- 2 nutrient dense meals, for only about $1.50 for the beans.

Don't have time to do the above steps? Here's a recipe for cooking beans in a slow cooker.

Your final results are a highly nutritious, cost effective, and tasty source of protein.  Beans are awesome!

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