Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Versatile Bean

Tonight I went to a wonderful class on dried beans! I have been looking forward to this for a while. Wierd, I know. This information comes from the ladies at USU Extension in Provo. I wanted to share some of the information I learned on storing, preparing, and USING your beans! Can I just tell you how excited I am to use more beans? The recipes we tasted were delicious! I also realized that I have been storing my beans wrong! Time to fix that! Over the next few posts I will share all the recipes, tips, conversions, etc.

Nutritional Value: Bean are an excellent and inexpensive source of protein (average 22% protein in the seed), iron, thiamin, & riboflavin. They also contain zinc, dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate that tend to be low in most American diets. The Food Guide Pyramid encourages frequent consumption of beans- several cups a week! Dry beans contain all essential amino acids except one, methionine, which can be found in corn, rice, and meat. For a complete protein, pair beans with rice or corn!

Ways to use your beans: Consider all the ways to use and rotate your beans:
Appetizers (hummus, roasted & seasoned chick-peas)
Main Dishes (chili, soup, and casseroles)
Vegetable Sides (refried beans, bean patties, salads, and seasoned boiled beans)
Fillings (tacos, burritos, etc)
Breads (muffins, cakes, bread, brownies, cookies, pie)

Storing your beans: Beans should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry location. They do not need to be refrigerated and can keep 1-2 years if stored in this manner. Older beans will require longer soaking and cooking times than freshly harvested beans. A BYU study also found that when beans were packaged in #10 cans or mylar bags with an oxygen absorber, they have a shelf life of over 10 years. Since oxygen can lead to rancidity of bean oils and light can fade the bean color, storage of beans using #10 cans or mylar bags with an oxygen absorber is recommended. I have always put my beans in 5 gallon buckets with oxygen absorbers. I learned tonight, if you put them in buckets, you either need to put in a mylar bucket liner, or put the beans in mylar bags, then in the bucket.

Preparing to eat your beans:
  1. Sort through dry beans or peas and discard any that are discolored or shriveled.
  2. Rinse the beans and drain well.
  3. Soak the beans using one of the following methods (Note: Lentils and peas do not require soaking):
  • a. Overnight soak: Soak beans at room temperature or in the refrigerator 8 hours or overnight in a pan containing approximately 6-8 cups of water for each pound of beans. Drain and discard the water. Beans soaked using this method will keep their shape better, have a more uniform texture, and cook more quickly than those prepared by the quick soak method.
  • b. Quick soak: Bring 1 pound of beans or peas and 6-8 cups of water to a gentle boil. Boil 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand 1 hour. Drain, discarding the soaking water. Note: It is important that beans are not allowed to stand for more than 1-2 hours. The heat can activate bacterial spores and the warm temperatures during cooling can favor their growth causing the potential for food-borne illnesses.
4. Cook your re-hydrated beans using one of the following methods:
  • Stove-top: Place the soaked beans in a large pot, cover with hot water, add 1 TB of oil and simmer with the lid slightly ajar until the beans are tender. The oil will cut down on the amount of foam produced during cooking. Do not bring to a rolling boil or stir frequently as this will cause the bean skins to break. Add additional water if need. Most beans will tenderize within 2 hours; however, beans which have been stored for long periods will require a longer cooking time.
  • Pressure cooker: A pressure cooker will save time and energy when cooking beans. Never fill the cooker more than 1/3 full to allow for expansion of the beans. Add water and oil as above and cook at 15 pounds pressure for approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • Slow cooker: Since crock-pots can very in terms of wattage, follow your manufacturer's instructions for cooking beans. In general, you will cover your beans with 3 times their volume of unsalted water and bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer 1 1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Discard water after cooking.
Bean cooking tips:
  • Do not add salt or acidic ingredients like vinegar, tomatoes or juice until after beans are fully cooked. These types of ingredients will slow the cooking process.
  • Cooking times vary with the types of beans used, but also vary with their age.
  • Beans are done when they can be easily mashed between two fingers or with a fork. Always test a few beans inc ase they have not cooked evenly.
Bean Conversions:
  • Two cups dry beans =one pound dry beans
  • One pound dry beans=six cups cooked beans, drained
  • One cup dry beans=three cups cooked beans, drained
  • One 15 oz can of beans=one and one-half cups cooked beans, drained
What about the gas??
Why do beans cause gas? To get technical, beans contain fiber and complex sugars which our bodies find difficult to process. The digestive enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract are not capable of breaking these sugars apart into simple sugars for absorption. In the lower intestine, the sugars are metabolized by bacteria and form carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane gas. So what can you do about it?

It has been proven that if you gradually increase your consumption of beans, your system will adjust and be able to digest them more easily. While some information says that the longer beans are soaked, the more sugars are dissolved into the soak water, we cannot recommend that you allow your beans to sit in warm water for longer than 2 hours because of the risk of food-bnorne illnesses. However, we can recommend that you do a quick soak, allow to stand for up to 2 hours, then drain, rinse and immediately refrigerate. You can also take commercial nateral enzyme products such as Beano which help break down the complex sugars and make them easier to digest.

I am excited to share the yummy recipes we tried! You will be amazed! Stay tuned...

Related Posts by Categories

Widget by Hoctro | DreamyDonkey

No comments:

Post a Comment