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I've talked about the history and health benefits of beans. However, some people can be intimidated when it comes to dried beans. I was one of them a few years ago. Other people avoid beans because they can cause gas if they're not cooked properly. But beans can be easily stored and cooked following some simple tips. Here are my personal tips when it comes to buying, storing and cooking beans.
When buying beans:
- Check that the beans are not old. If they look wrinkled, broken or discolored, it means that they are old and won't cook properly.
- Avoid beans with holes. Most times holes in beans mean that they have been attacked by weevils and they can infest other dried foods and flours in your pantry.
Storing dried beans:
- You can use thick plastic bags or containers to stored them. I personally like glass sealed containers.
- Place in a cool and dried place. Humidity and heat are bad for dried beans.
- Even though dried beans can be stored for many years. I avoid storing them longer than a year.
Cooking dried beans:
- Before cooking make sure to remove broken beans, rocks and other impurities that might come with the beans. To do this I place small handfuls on the counter and look carefully before placing them in a container.
- Wash beans thoroughly. Place beans in a large container and cover with cool water. With your hand wag beans energetically and drain water. Do this a few times until the water comes out clean.
- Soak beans overnight. Beans will absorb a lot of water and more than double in size so place them in a large container with three times as much water. This will not only rehydrate the beans but will also eliminate flatulence from eating them. When they get wet beans start to germinate. This releases enzymes that begin to break down their complex sugars into more simple ones. Complex sugars from beans that haven't been pre-soaked are the source of gas and indigestion. The overnight soak method reduces more than half of the complex sugars in most beans.
- The following morning rinse the beans once or twice.
- Place beans in a pot and cover with water. Cook over low heat for about 40 minutes. Check constantly and add more water as necessary just to keep them covered.
- When they start to soften add salt, NOT before this. You can add other seasonings at this point. I like to add clove, garlic or cumin depending on what I'm going to use them for.
- Remove from heat when they are completely soft and you can smash them with your thumb and index finger.
Storing cooked beans:
- Let the beans cool down before storing them in the fridge.
- Drain beans before storing. You may save the liquid to use as broth.
- You can divide them into smaller containers and freeze for up to three months.
- When reheating beans, add water and simmer for several minutes. They beans will release more of it's flavor into the water. You might also use chicken or vegetable broth.
The beans you see in the pictures, except for the third one, are cacahuate (peanut) beans. I bought these beans in Tulyehualco when we went to the Ice Cream Fair. I ate them for lunch yesterday with oyster mushrooms, chorizo and nopales (cactus paddies). You can find the recipe in Simone's blog. I'm very honored to have written a guest post for her blog. I love her writing and photography as I mentioned before on her guest post for What's Cooking, world?
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