4/9/12

Beans

This post is dedicated to all of us who need a little video help here and there in order to learn...

The ingredients...
1 cup organic dry beans
4 cups filtered water
1 bay leaf
1 stamp-size piece of seaweed 

    The steps...
    video

    Tips and tricks...

    Black beans, white beans, pinto beans, chick peas, black-eyed peas... are all hardy beans that cook much the same way. In this video I use dry white (also called navy) beans. 

    I measure the beans, pour them on the counter, and pass my hand through them. I look for stones so that when I eat my own cooked beans I don't break a tooth or, worse yet, break a friend's tooth. 

    I put the sifted beans in a bowl of cold water, gently stir, and discard the water by pouring it through a colander. I throw the used water, whenever possible, in the vegetable garden. If the beans happen to have a lot of dirt in them, I give them a second rinse.

    I usually make the beans sort of last minute, so most of the time I ''quick soak'' them. That means that, instead of soaking them in cold, filtered water for about 8 hours, I throw them in boiling water, turn off the heat, and let them soak for 30 minutes. This softens them so I don't have to cook them for endless hours... and makes their nutrients more digestible for my body. I use enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches so that it allows for them to expand as they soak. 


    I add the bay leaf and seaweed to the soaked beans to give them fragrance and minerals. I keep the size of the seaweed small, so as not to overdo the sodium content and make the beans hard.


    I cook the beans in the same water that I soak them, so they don't lose their nutrients.  I use a pressure cooker, and cook them anywhere from 15 to 17 minutes, depending on how soft I want them to be; softer for rice and beans, a bit harder for soups. I bring the pressure to ''high'' (2 lines on my pressure cooker, and a hissing sound), then lower flame to ''low'' and simmer for the desired amount of time. I turn off heat, and let the pressure subside before I open the lid so I don't burn myself with the hot vapor, or see a lid flying to the ceiling.


    When I don't have access to a pressure cooker, I use the heaviest/thickest pot I can find, and cook (simmer) the beans, partially covered, until I achieve the desired softness- about 1 hour. Some batches of beans do take longer than others... it's nature. 


    When I use a regular pot, I check the water level throughout the cooking to make sure the beans don't burn- it is easy to happen, trust me. When the beans are fully cooked and soft, I add salt. This is very important, as adding salt to uncooked beans will make them tooth-breakingly hard.

    A note on black beans: at the end of their cooking time I sauté (local, nitrite-free) bacon, and/or a few cloves of garlic in olive oil, and mix it in with the beans, along with sea salt. Then I let the beans simmer (low heat) to the desired consistency. I serve them with rice, collards, mustard or turnip greens, chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, finely chopped cabbage, sautéed zucchini... they are so delicious and fulfilling, any time or day of the year.


    Where to purchase beans, sea salt, olive oil, bacon and vegetables: Grassroots Market

    No comments: