Monday, June 16, 2008

Beans, beans...

...the musical fruit!

That's how my husband jokingly refers to beans. The whole little rhyme (even has a musical tune - of course! LOL)...

"Beans, beans, the musical fruit,

The more you eat, the more you toot,

The more you toot, the better you feel,

So let's have beans for every meal!"

I will say that for some people, beans (correctly called legumes) and their "musical" after effects is not on their all time favorite things in life. Many people just avoid them altogether. If you happen to like them, like me (and to avoid pain and embarrassment), check out the list below.

1. when soaking ahead of time, always drain and rinse before adding fresh water to cook beans

2. add ginger to beans when cooking

3. cook beans with a piece of kombu, a seaweed perfect for this

4. change the cooking water after boiling for a few minutes, rinse beans, then add fresh water to a clean pot before continuing. (I don't always do this, but it helps when I cook soybeans to avoid boil overs.)

5. "Add epazote to the beans when cooking. Epazote, a little-known herb also called Mexican Tea, helps control gas when cooked with beans. It adds a strong, distinctive taste that is common to Central and South American cooking. Look for it in Hispanic groceries or health food stores. You can also buy it online; just search for 'epazote.'" - (from Bean Bible website)

(6. I would suggest another popular remedy for digesting beans here, but alas, I have heard it is not vegetarian friendly, because it contains gelatin and other non-veg ingredients - oh well...)

Some people think that being vegetarian means that you have to eat beans (legumes) for protein. While this statement is not entirely true, many people find a few varieties of beans they like.

Here are my favorites:

Pinto: for "refried" beans, or tex-mex type meals

Lentil: very quick cooking (without soaking ahead) for soups and stews

Black (turtle): just because I like them (my dad used to grow them)

Small red: a nice small colorful bean for salads and soups

Peanut: for peanut butter, even in (African) stews and boiled (I love boiled!)

Mung: for bean sprouts in Asian dishes

Garbanzo (Chick Peas): great in salads, in curries, and yummy as a fried snack

Great Northern: nice white bean for soups and bean mixes

There's always more that I find interesting, so the list could go on...and on...

Beans from a can are ok in a pinch, but home cooked are not only cheaper, but you control what amount of salt (if any - it is not a requirement) and other things in it. Preparing beans from dry form is an easy job and can be done very efficiently once you have done it a couple of times.

There are many kind of beans with varying yields from each cup of dry beans. If you look up all the amounts that people say you should be able to get out of your particular kind of bean, you'll find that roughly for every 1 cup of dry, you'll get about 2 to 2 1/2 cups cooked.

The jury is still out on whether to soak or not, salt or not, and other things bean related. There are many ways to prepare and handle beans. Read up on other methods (see links at end of this post). What I've heard is to just try different things until you find what works for you. A combination of things might be best.

My take on beans at present:
As far as soaking time, most beans should be soaked for at least 8 hours. Soaking water should always be discarded and use only fresh pure water. You can use soak water to water your plants.

Cooking time can vary quite widely, but as a rule of thumb, plan on two hours to cook. Some take about an hour, some are slightly more than 2 hours. Hard water can affect the time needed to cook. Best to use purified/filtered water to soak and cook.

Test if they are done by picking some out with a spoon and blowing on them. Skins should crack and they should be soft. They can be a bit firmer if you plan to freeze for later use. Taste some for final test. Cooking can take a while for beans that are old. The fresher the bean, the faster it will cook up from dry.

There are some exceptions to the general rules above.

1. I have found that with soybeans, it is easier if I soak them a full 24 hours, changing water at least once during this time, more if I remember.

2. Lentils do not need a prior soaking time before cooking. They usually cook in under an hour from dry.

3. Soybeans take about 3 hours or more to cook, less than this if they are the black soybean variety.

4. Dry lima beans will yield less than 2 cups cooked from 1 cup dry, generally.

Loretta's Slow Method To Cooking Beans From Dry:

1. Measure out how many cups of beans you'd like to cook.

2. Sort, tossing stones and other misc. foreign materials out. Also, toss out any beans that don't pass your inspection. A lot of cracked skins on beans may indicate the beans are old. I toss beans that are not whole (generally), or have holes, and cracks. These indicate bugs or age, etc.

3. Rinse them with clean water. For this step, I like to use a bowl big enough to have more water than beans and do the following ... toss ones that float. Swish around with hands or spoon, till you have tossed all floaters and to agitate them a little to dislodge dirt, etc. Pour out water and do this 2-3 times until water is clear (generally) and all floaters, etc. have been tossed out.

4. Put sorted, rinsed, clean (still wet) beans into pot with enough water to cover plus a little more.

5. (Optional step) Cook until the beans have boiled for about 10-15 minutes. Then drain and rinse in a colander over the sink. Use a clean pot to put back on stove repeating step #4 above. Then proceed to step #6.

6.* Put in pot, with beans, in desired amounts:

onions, quartered or roughly chopped

garlic, roughly chopped

a tablespoon or two of oil to avoid a boil over.

Do not put in salt at this point, because it usually will take the beans longer to cook that way. I wait until they are done to add any type of salt.

7. Cook until done (take into account the guide above).

8. Drain and rinse in colander over sink, discarding cooking water. This will also help to alleviate digestion problems associated with eating beans.

9. Proceed with recipe as needed. Or you can freeze them for later use in amounts that are best for your family. I like to freeze in 2 cup amounts. I do use some cooking water to cover beans if I freeze them, discarding it after thawing before I proceed.

*Note: You would not add onions or garlic if cooking soybeans intended to make soy milk. Likewise, if you plan to cook your beans intended for any sweet dish, do not add onions or garlic.

Other helpful links:
To check out the many varieties of the humble bean, look here.

For other storage and soaking helps, check out part 1...and part 2 - the many options for cooking beans.

For cooking times and yields in a chart form, check this out (they also have a chart for whole grains). This is from another vegetarian site called Vegetarians in Paradise.
Check out the Bean Bible for some thoughts on avoiding the musical part and all things bean related.
To see more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

1 comment:

BarbaraLee said...

I think that is everybody favorite song.