Beans, beans, the magical fruit…
Someone once asked me how I eat beans every day and don’t have gas. The answer is simple- I don’t eat canned beans. If you don’t know why canned beans give you gas, let me explain. Beans have a protective outer layer that protects it as a plant from pests, and they are high in fiber. When beans are canned, they are simply cooked on high, under pressure, for an extensive period of time. Additionally, canned beans are in an aluminum can that is coated with BPA. Aluminum is a neurotoxin, and BPA is an endocrine disruptor.
No, no, I soak my beans and cook them myself, but few people really know how to do this, or think it’s time consuming. This post is about how to do that!
Did you know that dry beans are $1/lb? That’s the cost of one can premade. Depending on the bean, a pound of dry beans can yield 3-6 glass pint jars. Since cooking a pound of beans yields this much, you can either make a big batch of beans as a meal (think baked beans), put them in the refrigerator (if you think you’ll use them in a weeks time), or put them in freezer safe storage like mason jars (don’t forget to leave a bit of head space). To stack mason jars in your freezer, you can use clementine boxes.
Beans are high in fiber, protein, folate, iron, b-vitamins, calcium, and much more. They are one of the healthiest alternatives to meat and a world-wide staple. It is far healthier for all vegans and vegetarians to consume beans instead of fake meats.
Think you don’t like beans?
Yes you do. You probably don’t like the tin-like gross canned beans. And you probably eat beans in more things than you realize. You undoubtedly like hummus, chili, baked beans, tacos, minestrone soup (or this Moroccan soup), Dominican beans and rice, black bean burgers…and much more. If you haven’t tried any of these recipes, I can’t recommend them more! (I recently discovered a cold dish called Cowboy salad that I LOVE! I also enjoy three-bean salads in the summer- a quick Google search will lend a thousand recipes of each). I even put chickpeas in my spaghetti!
So you’ve gone to the store and you get some beans. It’s ok if you don’t know which beans to choose. For soups, you’ll want chickpeas for ethnic soups, white beans for Italian soups, and kidney beans for meaty soups. For chili you’ll want black beans and/or kidney beans. Hummus is made from chickpeas and tahini. Tacos go well with black beans or chickpeas, and beans and rice usually use any kind of bean besides chickpeas. The rest is self-explanatory. I do NOT recommend that your first bean project be with chickpeas, and I’ll explain why later. (chickpeas=garbanzo beans)
If you have food allergies or Celiac disease, check to make sure your beans are not cross-contaminated by checking the label.
Once you bring your beans home, put them in a large bowl, and rinse them a few times (you can also use a strainer). Then fill the bowl so that it has at least a 1:3 ratio of beans to water. I recommend that you fill the bowl as much as you can without spilling it. Chickpeas are very different. They are hard and take a lot of water. You will need a 1:5 or 1:6 ratio of water for chickpeas. They will also have to be soaked for a FULL 36 hours.
Place the bowl in a warm place. Stir in 2-3 tablespoons of plain yogurt (I use homemade plain soy yogurt). Cover the bowl with a lid or plate and leave it there 24-36 hours. I know what you’re thinking…won’t it rot?
No. It won’t rot. It won’t sour. You will not get food poisoning. The bacteria in the yogurt is going to break down your beans so that they don’t make you so sick and gassy when you eat them, and so you can absorb all of their nutrients. It’s one of the few things that wack-job Sally Fallon got right in her stupid book. Additionally, they must be covered and not open so that air debris and germs don’t get in and disturb the healthy bacteria that is partially digesting your food for you.
Sally Fallon also failed to mention that you don’t have to be so paranoid about soaking, because one of those things in beans is called phytic acid, which we need to prevent disease, and it is often mostly cooked out of food, but folks with digestive disorders benefit from soaking, sprouting and fermenting. I am one of those people.
I digress. After 24-36hrs, put your beans in a strainer and rinse them. Then put them in your crockpot or pot of choice, and either season them into a dish, or boil them until they’re soft. From there you can eat them or store them. In a pot stovetop, beans can take about 25-45 minutes, depending on the bean. It’s helpful to cook them in a large pot on medium high with the lid on. Beans foam when they cook, but it’s not a big deal. Chickpeas take FOREVER to cook- I mean an hour to three hours, depending on how many you’re cooking. How do you know when the beans are done? I use the “smoosh test”- I smoosh them with a spoon. If they’re mooshy like the ones I buy at the store in a can, they’re done.