People are often surprised when I tell them that I rarely (less than 1% of the time) use canned beans. Often I get a shocked and a look that I’ve somehow lost my mind before the inevitable question is asked: Why? It’s simple:
Canned beans are more expensive than dried equivalency.
Canned beans are subject to BPAs from cans and other potential chemicals that can come from a can. There is also no added salt in my beans.
It’s actually quite easy and less time consuming that you might imagine.
As an individual who follows a plant-based diet, beans are an integral part of a week’s worth of meals. One of the main tenants of a balanced vegetarian diet is “a bean, a green, and a grain” in meal planning. Plus, they are delicious and can offer a huge variety of options.
“But what about gas?” is another question that is often asked of plant-based diets. It’s a little personal, but fair. I’ve found that by making my own beans (using the method that was shared with me, and that I’m going to share with you) reduces significantly digestive distress eating beans may have for some. It is also important to note that beans are high in fiber, so if you aren’t accustomed to a high fiber diet, you will natural experience the effects of a sudden dose of the good stuff in your system. Keep at it though, it’s good for you and the body adapts.
Soaking the beans
A typical Saturday evening will find me tossing the beans I want to cook for the week into a bowl with a piece of dried kombu and a good amount of water before I commence my activities of the night ahead. Kombu is a seaweed (which can be found in the Asian aisle of your market, or at an Asian market). It might seem like a little investment, but a package of kombu like the one in the photo lasts me a year (and that’s cooking beans 1-2 times a week)–you don’t need much, about an inch piece.
Kombu will help with the digestibility of the bean. It also contains iodine–a necessary nutrient–which when soaked and cooked with the beans, enriches them.
Cooking the beans
After your beans have soaked overnight (or at least 6 hours), drain and rinse them before adding them to your cooking pot with fresh water (keep the kombu and cook it with the beans). As the water comes to a boil, you will notice white foam forming on the surface of the water–this is starch; skim it off and dispose of it in your sink. This helps to reduce the starch in the beans (you will notice that if you don’t skim this off and it comes to a full boil, much of this is reabsorbed back into the water and bean). The amount of starch that comes to the top depends on the type of bean–some are starchier than others. In this example, I am cooking adzuki beans, which are lower in starch. Navy beans, by contrast, will yield larger amounts of starchy foam.
Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and allow to cook until beans are tender. Bean cooking time is completely dependent on the type of bean, but it is generally 30-60 minutes. Once done cooking, unless you need to reserve the liquid for a specific recipe (i.e. I use the cooking water in making hummus with chick peas), drain the water, dispose of the kombu, and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process.
You’re beans are ready for whatever recipe you want to use them for. Me? I put them in a container in the fridge and use through the week in salads, bean burgers, stews, etc, etc, etc. The possibilities are endlessly yummy.