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Cooking and eating beans

When I was growing up, my family never ate many dried beans, they just weren't something that was used much in NZ cuisine.  If I did eat beans, it was always from a can (and most likely baked beans).  And until recently I was still using beans from a can, but it can be difficult to get organic beans, and to find cans not lined with BPA.  Then I had an opportunity to buy some organic dry goods in bulk, so I bought 5kg of kidney beans, 5kg of adzuki beans and 5kg of chickpea (garbanzo beans).  I know, that is a lot of beans.  And then I didn't really know what to do with them!  Not just what dishes to put them in, but how to prepare them, I just didn't know what method to use. So I decided it was time to learn how to use all these beans that I bought, here's what I found out.

I started with an excellent ebook called The Everything Beans Book, from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship, which has lots of bean recipes, but more importantly, an explanation of how to prepare the beans.  I had previously tried to cook adzuki beans and ended up with a mess, as they seemed to just dissolve in the water, and from that experience I had been put off cooking the beans and I had a vague idea that I might sprout them instead.  I'm so glad I did some research first because it is definitely not safe to sprout kidney beans, due to a nasty chemical that they contain when raw called a lectin, which is extremely irritating to the intestines.  Fortunately lectin is destroyed by heating to boiling temperature, so cooked or canned beans are safe to eat.  

Interestingly, all legumes and grains contain some amount of lectin, but kidney beans are particularly bad, so they must not be eaten raw.  I tried to find out more about other sprouted legumes, as I do enjoy my raw sprouted chickpea hummus, but I couldn't find anything for sure, although eating large amounts of raw sprouts is not recommended by Nourishing Traditions (everything in moderation), but sprouting and then cooking the sprouted beans is still beneficial (various nutrients are released, and phytates are reduced) and they don't need to be cooked as long if they are pre-sprouted.  

How to prepare kidney beans
As kidney beans have a high lectin content, to be on the safe side, its best to make sure that they are cooked properly.  I prepared kidney beans by soaking overnight in a large pot of water.  In the morning, I discarded the soaking water and then added fresh water and boiled the beans for 10 minutes (lectin should be destroyed by the boiling, the soaking is for the phytates).  Then I cooked the beans in the slow cooker all day.  They came out perfect, not mushy at all.  I could have skipped the boiling step, but there is some concern that the slow cooker doesn't get to a high enough temperature.  I checked mine with a thermometer and it was up to 96degC, which is that close to boiling, you'd think it would still work, but as I'd just read about the nasty effects of lectin, I preferred to boil the beans just to be sure (and I couldn't find any references with the exact temperature at which the lectin is destroyed).  I also made quite a large batch of beans, so I could put some in the freezer for later, so it really wasn't too much trouble to add that step.  Now I can add beans to the long list of things I like to make in my slow cooker, and keep handy in the freezer!

How to prepare adzuki beans
As I said above, I have previously tried to prepare adzuki beans using the same method as the kidney beans and all I ended up with was MUSHY beans, they possibly don't need to be cooked for so long.  This time I decided to try sprouting the beans first and then steaming them quickly.  They take a few days to sprout and this should reduce the lectin content, so they could be eaten raw at this stage (depending on the amount of other raw legumes you've eaten recently).  This also prepares the sprouts for cooking, so instead of the soaking and long cooking process, the sprouted beans can be steamed for about 10 minutes to remove all lectin, and then used as normal.

What to do with the beans
Most people use beans as a cheap form of protein to reduce the amount they have to spend on meat.  We have 300 kg of beef in the freezer, so it doesn't really need extending!  For me the attraction of beans is that they can be stored for long periods without refrigeration.  I also planned to make more baked beans for breakfast, but then the chickens started laying through winter, so I didn't need them.  For me, cooking beans was something I wanted to know how to do "just in case" we need to use them, more than thinking that we need to rely on them to provide us with protein at this present time.  I think I will add them to meals occasionally, for example, any Aus-Mexican food I make.

nachos with kidney and adzuki beans
Do you eat beans?  Do you use dried beans?  Any tips?  Did I miss anything?

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre    monday's homestead barn hop


  1. This is what I've found as far as temperature for denaturing lectin:

    "The processed meals were subjected to native-PAGE and measurement of total carbohydrate-binding lectin (TCBL), agglutinating lectin (AL), UA, and trypsin inhibitor (TI). Processing severity was evaluated by determining protein solubility in 0.2% potassium hydroxide. Results indicated that levels of all antinutrients (TCBL, AL, UA, and TI) decreased with increasing processing temperature (P < 0.05). The intensity of the lectin band on the electrophoresis gel was considerably reduced when meal was heated at 100 degrees C for 5 min. This result implied that lectin inactivation occurred at 100 degrees C. More than 90% of all the original antinutrient levels in the raw meal were destroyed when meals were heated at 100 degrees C for 5 min." -Investigating the possibility of monitoring lectin levels in commercial soybean meals intended for poultry feeding using steam-heated soybean meal as a model.
    Fasina YO, Classen HL, Garlich JD, Swaisgood HE, Clare DA.

    Granted, this was soy meal, not whole kidney beans, but boiling is definitely a good idea.

    1. Thanks B! that's great information, it looks like boiling for 5-10 minutes is the way to go.

  2. We are vegetarians so we eat a lot of beans and like you have just done I buy our beans, lentils chickpeas ect in 5kg lots. I cook much the same way as you. Soak, discard water, boil. We use kidney beans in many dishes. Soups, stews, Mexican dishes.

  3. We use dry beans for chili and just an iron pot of navy beans is good. I usually soak them overnight but have just started cooking them. I keep my dry beans in a refrigerator as I have had trouble with bugs getting into them or coming out of them, not sure.

  4. Oh my favourite subject I thought, although I think I use way more lentils than beans, once I started looking for recipes to share with you! I make this recipe for baked beans Using a mixture of beans gives it a lovely texture. If you add a little seaweed to the boiling mixture I have heard that greatly reduces the gas that beans sometimes cause. Also always throw away the first soaking liquid. If you have forgotten to soak overnight you can boil the beans and leave them in that liquid soaking for an hour, and they will soak up as much water as they would have done overnight.

  5. We eat a lot of beans too, and they're very easy to grow and dry so I rarely use canned ones, nearly always my own. I have dozens of bean recipes. They make great burgers, or chili beans with or without meat, or added to minestrone or turned into bean paste for quesadillas or <a href="> garlic white bean dip</a>. So versatile, and such a good cheap whole food.

    1. thanks Linda, I should look at what beans I can gorw and dry myself....

  6. Aus-Mex. I've never heard that. Made me smile. Im sure there are all sorts of hyphenated mexican cuisines the world over. The most familiar to me is Tex-Mex. :)

    1. yeah I made it up because I was embarressed to call what I cook "mexican" as I'm quite sure that its nothing like the real thing!

  7. Good info! I have been relying on canned beans too much...need to get busy and can my own or just start cooking them more often :)
    Thanks for sharing on The HomeAcre Hop! Hope you can join us again today!


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