Technique: Soaking & Cooking Beans
Beans are a wonderfully healthy protein source when properly prepared. Soaking the beans prior to slow cooking them, neutralizes the phytic acid that is naturally occurring in them. If needed, this recipe is easily doubled.
Beans contain phytic acid, which is indigestible for human who only have one stomach to breakdown food. Phytic acid prevents the absorption of phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Since it would be hard to grow another stomach, we will have to settle with a long soaking process, which neutralizes that pesky phytic acid. For more information, we'd like to direct you to the source of our information and a huge inspiration in our kitchen, The Weston A. Price Foundation.
1 cup (250 g) dried black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, or white beans*
warm filtered water to cover beans
2 tablespoons (30 ml) activator, such as plain kombucha, whey, or lemon juice
7 cups (1.65 L) water
1 piece (3 inches, or 7.5 cm) of kombu**
2 teaspoons sea salt
- Put beans in a glass container and cover with warm water by 2 inches (5 cm).
- Stir in the activator, cover, and leave in a warm place 12 to 36 hours. Longer soaking removes additional phytic acid; if soaking longer than 12 hours, however, change the water and activator every 12 hours.
- After soaking, drain the beans and rinse well in a colander.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, add the beans, the 7 cups fresh water, and the kombu. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming off any foam that may have formed on the surface of the water with a large-size flat spoon.
- Cover the pot and simmer for 1½ to 4 hours; cooking time will depend on the type of bean, size, and age (older beans take longer to cook). When using beans for a salad, stop cooking once tender but before they lose their shape and become mushy.
- Add sea salt toward the very end of the cooking process.
- When cooking is complete, remove the kombu (if small pieces of the kombu remain, don’t worry about them).
- Store the beans in the refrigerator, in their cooking liquid, to use throughout the week. Drain and rinse as needed.
*Even for a single batch, kidney beans and chickpeas benefit from doubling the amount of activator used for soaking because they have a tougher exterior.
**Kombu is a type of dried seaweed that imparts additional minerals and flavor into the cooking liquid, along with beneficial enzymes, which help break down the sugars in the bean.
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