Technique: Soaking & Cooking Beans

Beans are a wonderfully healthy protein source when properly prepared.  When ill prepared, they wreak havoc on our digestion.  We’ve all heard our fair share of bean jokes, of course.

The good news is that proper preparation, including a long soak, and a slow cooking process, neutralizes those destructive properties, restoring beans to their healthy status. If needed, this recipe is easily doubled.

Technique: Soaking & Cooking Beans

Beans contain phytic acid, which is indigestible for human beings who only have one stomach to breakdown food.  Phytic acid prevents the absorption of phosphorus, which is bound within the phytic acid, but it also binds with other minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable, too!  Since it would be hard to grown 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.

  • Yield: 2 to 3 Cups (344 to 515 G)
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Put beans in a glass container and cover with warm water by 2 inches (5 cm).
  2. 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.
  3. After soaking, drain the beans and rinse well in a colander.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Add sea salt toward the very end of the cooking process.
  7. When cooking is complete, remove the kombu (if small pieces of the kombu remain, don’t worry about them).
  8. Store the beans in the refrigerator, in their cooking liquid, to use throughout the week. Drain and rinse as needed.

Recipe Notes

*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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