How to make 'gas-free' beans and why you should
“Beans, bean the musical fruit,
The more you eat the more you toot.
The more you toot the better you feel.
Eat lots of beans at every meal.”
I amazes me how many people don’t eat beans. When you ask them why, they roll their eyes and say, “Gas!” Which is a real shame, for if ever there was a wonder food, the humble bean is one.
You know, it doesn’t have to be this way!
In a pinch, you can also quick-soak beans by putting them in a pot with four times as much water, bring to a boil, boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. (Don’t forget to rinse after the soak.) But this method while preferable to commercially canned beans, will not give the superior results the long soak method does.
The solution to the problem is pretty simple. First, cook your own beans rather than using canned, and use the traditional, long soak method. The secret to gas-free beans is in the method.
- Use dried beans of any sort (pinto, navy, black, cannelinni, kidney, red – there’s all kinds of beans)
- Put them in a colander and rinse them for several minutes, shaking or stirring during the rinse.
- Place the beans in a large bowl and add water at a rate of 4 parts water to one part beans.
- Soak for several hours, preferably overnight. Change the water from time to time (if possible and convenient.)
- After the soak, rinse thoroughly.
- Place beans in large pot and add four times the volume in water. You may add herbs, garlic or spice at this stage but do not add salt or anything acidic as they will interfere with the beans absorbing water.
- Bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to an active simmer (water bubbles slowly.)
- Cook until tender. (Times will vary with the type of bean, from two to four hours.)
The beans are now ready to use in any recipe – and they will be gas free!
Here's why beans give us gas: Beans contain a sugar called oligosaccharide and we lack the enzyme required to break the sugar down. When the sugar arrives in your lower intestinal tract intact, it ferments, creating a buildup of gas. The gas isn't absorbed into the intestine, so the body expels it, bringing blushes and embarrassment to some, and amusement and laughter to others. Or, it not expelled it blows you up like a balloon bringing neither embarrassment nor laughter, but a great deal of discomfort.
Enough to put you off eating beans -- and you really should, you know. But the method described above should solve the problem for all but the most sensitive of digestive systems, and for those I prescribe 'Beano.'
Here's why this method works: The soaking and rinsing process breaks down and removes the sugars, and slow cooking breaks them down further. Voila -- gas-free beans.
Wow! What a lot of work, you’re thinking. Why would I bother?
Here are some good reasons:
- Beans are cheap
- Beans are tasty and easy to make into fabulous, delicious and highly nutritious dishes.
- Beans are very low in fat and a good source of fiber
- Beans are an excellent source of protein (and combined with grains are a complete protein, as good as steak.)
- Beans have the highest antioxidant content and that’s a fact.
- Beans are low-cal and fill you up fast.
- Beans contain a wide variety of healthy nutrients, including calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, folate and alpha-linolenic acid.
- Beans are not only high in fiber and protein, but they're a good source of complex carbohydrates.
And if all this wasn’t enough, scientific studies have shown that when beans are a part of a regular diet and eaten at least three times a week, they provide protection from some of our modern day plagues including:
- Diabetes (they are a complex carbohydrate and do not trigger the glycemic reaction.
- Heart disease – high fiber, complex carbs, full of anti-oxidants, beans reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart problems by 22%.
- Obesity – beans fill you up, stay with you, curb hunger, and offer the body valuable sources of ready energy that it can burn quickly and effectively. Because of this, beans boost energy levels, and as a result, promote weight loss.
- Colon health—beans are high in soluble fibers… well you know what that does for you.
- Cancer – beans are rich in phytochemicals including saponins, phytosterols, and lignans which play a role in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.
“Eat lots of beans at every meal.” And to help you, here’s a list of wonderful recipes, all featuring beans in all their variety. I'll be adding to this list as I post more recipes featuring beans, so be sure to check back from time to time.
Chuckwagon Beans (we rated it 4 stars out of five.) An authentic version of cowboy beans. A real hit with kids.
Our version uses pinto beans, that great staple of the prairies but would be equally authentic using great northern beans.
About half an hour to make, at a cost of $3.80 total -- that's $.95 per serving!
Cuban Black Bean Soup in three versions.
Although the process of preparing the Black Bean Soup contains basics (onion,garlic, bay leaf, salt…) each region has their own tradition of preparing it. If it is a special occasion, the soup may contain chicken, pork or sausage.
Here are three versions of Cuban Black Bean Soup, the first a traditional method using either a ham bone or bacon (salt pork usually in Cuba.) The second is a vegetarian meal. The third would be a feast day version, with sausage and chicken.
(We rated the traditional version a five, the vegetarian a four, and the meaty soup a six -- out of five.)
More recipes to come.
Keepan eye open for new recipes. I've collected so many, but it takes time to test them, work out the details, develop nutritional information...
If any of you have a favorite legume recipe you'd like to submit, you may contact me through my avatar. Always looking for something new.