Thursday, June 14, 2012

The musical fruit

The day will never be forgotten. 

"Beans, beans, the musical fruit:  The more you eat the more you... toot !" 

Yes, that day:  the day my mother, with her ongoing emphasis on manners and grammar, being courteous and respectful, taught me this song!  As a little girl it shocked my socks off, but I laughed and laughed and laughed...and sang away!

Sadly that is often all the more that we view beans as--a threat.  They come with inconvenience and discomfort...or at least that is the misconception.  I'm afraid we might have made a hasty call and leveled judgement a bit too soon.  As long as a gut is healthy enough to handle beans, they are a wondrous resource.  Not only are they inexpensive, but they come packing nutrients. And the more that you consume them, the more you will realize that they are not so musical.  Fresh soaked/cooked beans are truly delicious! 

I am not talking about the beans that can be purchased in aluminum cans.  Those cans come with their own set of issues, so I happily soak my own dry beans.   Yes, happily.  Beans are a happy little fruit nourishing package.  

How I like to prepare beans:

1.  Soak dry beans for 24 hours, changing the water somewhere about halfway through that time. Soaking for this long helps to break the beans down a little further than a quick soak so that digestion is easier and gas is not such an issue.  Don't skimp on the 24 hours--it really does make a difference!

2a.  After soaking for 24 hours, rinse the beans, place in a pot and fill to an inch above the beans with fresh water.  Bring to a boil, boil for ten minutes, then simmer 1-2 hours or until soft.  Keep an eye on the water.  If the water threatens to fall below the level of the beans, add more water to cover.

2b.  Or you can do it my favorite way and cook them in a slow cooker!  (Note: Red Kidney Beans are the exception here.  DO NOT cook them in your slow cooker as they may not reach a high enough temperature to kill off a toxic agent in Red Kidney Beans.  More information available here and here.)  After soaking, rinse the beans and place them in a slow cooker and cover to an inch above the beans with fresh water.  Cook for 3-4 hours on high, or until soft and tender.  (Cooking time will vary with the amount of beans in the slow cooker.)  It couldn't be any easier.  Really. 

3.  When cooked through, carefully strain the beans and rinse with cool water.  I bag my beans in sandwich baggies in approximately 1.5 cup portions.  This amount translates well into recipes that call for a "can of beans."  I freeze these portions to pull out for recipes just as easily as any canned bean from a pantry.

Beans are easy.  Not musical.


  1. I'm going for the 24 to see the difference it makes. Have you ever tried using vinegar, lemon juice or whey with it? Does it make a difference with the 24 hour soak?


    Thought I'd not go totally anonymous so that you know who I am :)

  2. Ah! Yes, it is you!

    I have not personally tried adding anything when I soak beans. I was pleased enough with the results that I got when I first started soaking them for 24 hours that I just never went any further! Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions recommends a 12-24 hour soak with whey (or lemon juice). Sounds like it's a good idea! I'm going to have to try it next time I need to soak a batch of beans!