Beans! Used in so many recipes, they stretch our food budget, add in nutrients, and taste great in Tex Mex recipes, to name just a few. I’ve been tweaking my preparation of beans so that they cook quickly and, more importantly, provide all the nutrients we hear about.
In past blogs I’ve talked briefly about how many foods that are so good for us have to be prepared properly in order for us to utilize them. Beans contain substances that are protective to them but are not beneficial to us. Part of what this means is that instead of getting minerals and other goodies from beans, they are actually taking minerals from us (out of our bones, teeth, hair, etc.) in order to be digested. Lack of preparation is one of the reasons many people are unable to digest them well and avoid eating them altogether. In order to break down those substances and to be digested by us they need proper preparation. It doesn’t take extra time on your part, but it does take a bit of planning ahead.
So when I decide to prepare beans I want to cook a large batch – cook once, eat many times! Here is an example of how this works. If I need black beans I will start with 4 – 6 cups of dried beans. In a 16 quart stock pot I add very hot water, enough to equal 3 times the amount of dried beans. (I use filtered water so I actually heat the water on my cooktop.) Next I add my dried beans and 1 T of acid per cup of dried beans. Normally I use apple cider vinegar, but sometimes I use lemon juice. The purpose of the acid is to break down those substances that are protecting the beans. Then I cover the pot and leave the beans to soak for about 12 hours. Next I strain and rinse the beans, put in fresh hot water and add about 1 tablespoon of baking soda and soak another 12 hours. I’ll strain and rinse again, add fresh water and begin to cook. If foam rises to the surface I’ll skim that off. At this point I sometimes (if I remember!) add a piece of dried kombu (a sea vegetable – Maine Coast Sea Vegetable brand – check your local health food store). This will help with digestibility even more. Generally I’ll start the beans one evening and cook the next late afternoon. Cooking time will normally take about an hour, depending on how soft I want the beans. Now if you really have trouble digesting beans you can soak them 48 hours if you like. Be sure to pour off the water and replace with fresh every 12 hours or so. If it’s really hot in the house do it more often, maybe every 8. When I’m finished cooking I’ll strain off the beans, give them a quick rinse and allow them to cool. If there are big pieces of kombu I’ll pull them out. Otherwise I don’t bother. Afterwards I put 4 cup portions in Ziploc bags and place them in the freezer. Now when I need beans they are cooked and ready to go. So simple to use in soups, Mexican food, wraps, etc!
Try preparing your beans this way and see what you think!
- 4 cups dried beans, sorted for rocks, and rinsed
- 12 cups hot water
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- Additional 12 cups hot water
- 1 T baking soda
- Additional 12 cups water
- Heat water to very hot – not boiling – in 16 quart stock pot.
- Add beans and apple cider vinegar.
- Soak overnight or 12 hours.
- Strain and rinse.
- Heat water to very hot again and add beans and baking soda.
- Soak again.
- Strain and rinse and place back in stock pot with 12 cups water.
- Bring to a boil and skim foam.
- Reduce to simmer, add kombu, and cover.
- Cook until desired tenderness, about an hour.
- Strain and use or freeze