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General Bean Page

Legumes: Beans and Peas
The heartier legumes are kidney beans, black beans, garbanzos or chickpeas, great northern beans, pinto beans, navy beans, etc. Legumes such as lentils, mung beans, split mung beans, black-eyed peas and split peas cook quicker and are more digestible. Proper cooking, certain spices and, if necessary, limited quantities can make all types of beans digestible, even for delicate stomachs.

Nutritional Information:
Beans and legumes are nutritionally dense, inexpensive and versatile! All legumes, in general, strengthen the kidneys. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. They are a superior carbohydrate for people with blood sugar imbalances since they are slowly digested and cause only a gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Beans also contain magnesium and copper which help to process Essential Fatty Acids. Lectins in beans are natural chemicals that stimulate the immune response. The protein value in beans is enhanced by combining them with whole grains. Much higher in nitrogen-rich protein than grains, a healthy portion of beans is ¼ to 1/3 that of grains. (Too much protein puts stress on liver & kidneys.) Beans are very grounding, more-so than many other foods also low in cholesterol and saturated fat. (The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood)

Complete Protein:
For more information on how to get complete proteins from grains and legumes read
this article by CSA member Michelle Dudley.
Fun Food Facts: Beans were already a tradition as one of the Three Sisters of Life amongst Native Americans when Europeans arrived, and soon where an essential part of the settler’s diet. Easy to store, dried beans traveled with families continent wide, adapting to new regional tastes and growing seasons. (Taken from Louise’s Leaves by Louise Fraser)

The word “pulses” can refer to the edible seeds (dried beans) of certain leguminous plants, as beans or lentils. It can also refer to a plant producing such seeds. India is the world's largest producer and the largest importer of pulses. The term “dal” (also spelled dahl, dhal or daal) refers to a both the legume in dried form or the preparation of the legume, which have also been stripped of their outer hulls and split. This is known as a staple of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi cuisine, often pureed, spiced and served with rice. The word Dal derives from the Sanskrit term to split. (Wikipedia,
Cooking Suggestions:
  • Cooking your own beans as opposed to using canned beans will offer better flavor, texture and nutrition. This is a good way to avoid excess sodium in canned beans as well.
  • Beans can be used in soups for all seasons, chili, in warm & cold salads, in bean burgers or loafs, or simply with any whole grain.
  • Lose the water. By discarding beans' soaking water prior to cooking, you're getting rid of up to 80% of the oligosaccharides that cause flatulence. 
  • Try adding 1/4-1/2 tsp baking soda (less is better) per 1 1/2 cups beans to soften beans and dramatically reduce cooking time.  Can be added at any point but might as well put it in at the beginning. 
  • Cooking beans in an earthen pot in the oven takes all day but they turn out much tastier than in a regular pot on the stove. Using a slow cooker is another option. For those hoping to cook beans more regularly, a pressure cooker may be a good investment. This drastically reduces cooking time, but requires extra concentration when starting. 
  • Beans can be cooked in varied ways. You can experiment - adding or subtracting ingredients, shortening or lengthening the process, etc. 
  • To maximize bean digestibility, add 2 bay leaves, ½ tsp of cumin or Kombu (dried seaweed). 
  • Let your body adjust. If you aren’t used to eating beans often, your body may take time to adapt to the extra work required to digest their complex sugars. Begin by eating beans in small quantities and maybe 2 to 3 times each week, and then gradually increase the quantity. 
  • Go simple. Note that beans cooked with added sweeteners — brown sugar, honey or maple syrup, for instance — may stress your digestion even more, so opt for plain beans when you can.
Storage Information:
Uncooked: Avoid the refrigerator! Instead, keep dried beans in airtight containers and store them in a dry, cool, dark place. If you do it right, beans will last up to a year. If beans are old (in years) they may take longer to cook.

Cooked: Refrigerate cooked beans in a covered container for up to 5 days. Alternately, freeze them for up to 6 months in an airtight freezer container.

wash beans, soak overnight in about triple the amount of water, drain and rinse.
Add fresh water to at least 2 inches above beans.
Add 1/8 to 1/4 tsp baking soda for each cup of dry beans (speeds up cooking time tremendously)
Bring to boil, then simmer with cover ajar to make sure doesn't spill over til done. 
CROCKPOT -- soak right in the crockpot. Drain, rinse, and add the water and baking soda, cover, cook til done. 
You'll soon learn about how long it takes for different types of beans depending on the bean, length of soaking, and level of heat.  Hearty beans take at least 1 to 1.5 or 2 hours on stove or 6-8 hrs in crock pot.

And here are thorough instructions on How to Cook Beans:

1. Sort out any shriveled or broken beans, stones or debris in the pre-cook processes.
2. Rinse the sorted beans well in cold, running water.
3. Soaking beans before cooking helps to remove some of those indigestible sugars that cause flatulence. (However, make sure you don’t soak so long that sprouts begin to appear.)

Regular soak: Put beans into a large bowl and cover with filtered water. Set aside for 8 hours or overnight; drain well. (If it's really warm in your kitchen, soak the beans in the refrigerator instead to avoid fermentation.)

NOTE: Lentil, Mung, Black-eyed peas and split peas can be soaked for less than 3 hours. Some say that soaking these types of legumes is optional. However, soaking generally helps to rid more of the flatulence-causing carbohydrate present in beans and helps the beans to cook more evenly.

Quick soak: Put beans into a large pot and cover with about 2 inches of cool, filtered water. Bring to a boil then boil briskly for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and set aside off of the heat for 1 hour; drain well.

Put beans into a large pot and cover with 1-2 inches of water or stock. Using less water means beans will be thick and break down more. (Don't add salt at this point since that slows the beans' softening and inhibits the release of vital protein and nutrients!!) Slowly bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that surfaces. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until beans are tender. Make sure to cook them until completely tender and cooked through to eliminate the gastric distress-causing toxin that's present in raw and undercooked beans. Cooking times vary but generally you're looking at about 1 to 2 hours for the hearty beans, 30-45 minutes for lentils and split peas. In a pressure cooker, it is only several minutes! See final recipe (#5) for preparing beans in slow cooker.

NOTE: Lentil, Mung, Black-eyed peas and split peas can be cooked with 1½ cups water or stock for each cup of beans. Once liquid is boiling, add the lentils or peas, return to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer partially uncovered until tender, 30 – 45 mins.

Uncooked dried peas and lentils can be added directly to soups and stews, too. Just be sure there's enough liquid in the pot (about 1½ cups of liquid for every 1 cup of lentils or peas).
Other Recipes:

Bean patties (any kind of bean may be used):
They aren't quite firm enough to toss on the backyard grill, but are good for everyday meals.
1/2 onion, diced
2 cups cooked beans, well drained
1/2 cup flour
2 slices bread, crumbled
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
Sautee the onions till soft, about 3-5 minutes

Optional: stirring in a beaten egg may help it hold together better
In a large bowl, mash the beans until almost smooth. Add sautéed onions and the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, adding the flour a few tablespoons at a time to combine well. Mixture will be thick. Form bean mixture into patties, approximately ½ inch thick and fry patties in a small amount of oil until slightly firm.
Multi-Bean Salad: (6-8 servings – great for a potluck or any make-ahead meal)

This recipe calls for 5 cups of cooked beans, any kind. The more varieties of beans you use, the better! However, if cooking times vary (such as beans vs. peas) cook the different kinds separately.

Combine the following to make the Marinade: ½ cups vinegar, ¾ cups mixed sunflower and olive oils, 1 tsp salt, fresh black pepper to taste, a few dashes of marjoram or oregano, ½ tsp. basil, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1Tbps. dry red wine, rind and juice from ½ a lemon.

Add the marinade to this mixture: 5 cups beans, ½ cup chopped scallions, ½ cup finely minced onion, freshly chopped parsley. Mix, chill and later garnish with any of the following: grated cheese, tomatoes, olives, eggs (Taken from Moosewood Cookbook)
Tatiana Stantcheva’s Traditional Bulgarian Thick Bean Soup:
Stage 1: Preparation
Put 3 or 4 handfuls of beans in a pot. (2-3 servings)
Add water to at least double the height of the beans
Bring it to boil, then turn off heat
Add 2 -3 bay leaves or 1/2 tsp of cumin or Kombu (dried seaweed) (to make more digestible)

Let the boiled beans soak 4 hours (or overnight)
Or you can soak the beans without boiling them. Bring them to a boil the next day, throw away that first boiled water, and proceed with the cooking stage.

Stage 2: Cooking
Throw away the beans' water. Rinse them again.
Add generous amount of water and put on stove.
Add the following to beans:
1 chopped onion, 1 or 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 or 2 carrots sliced,
1 or 2 fresh peppers of any kind, 1 tbsp of paprika (optional)

Bring to boil, then lower the heat and let it cook for a couple of hours.
The beans are done when they are soft. Do not eat them to check whether they are soft, but rather pull a bean on a plate and mash with a fork. If it mashes easily, they are ready. If it offers resistance to the fork, they are not ready yet. I personally like them very soft, so I even overcook them.
To thicken the beans, you can pour some of the broth, if any, in small cup, add 1 tbsp flour to it, mix it well, and pour it back in the pot. Repeat if you wish them even thicker.
Another way to thicken the beans is to let them cook longer until the water evaporates

In the Cooking stage, I add a Bulgarian spice called "dzhodzhen"
from the mint family. I'm going to grow it this year in my garden and since it grows like mint, I expect to have plenty to share with anyone interested. Bulgarians would not eat their beans without the "dzhodzhen" in the beans.

Stage 3: Seasoning (according to your taste!)
Add salt at the end
Add tomato sauce (approx. 1/2 cup)

Basic, Easy Delicious Indian Dal
This is from Dr. Lad's cookbook, and uses split yellow mung beans. It also works well with the red lentils we sometimes get in the CSA.
1/2 C. split yellow mung dal (serves 2-4 people.)
cumin seed
black mustard seed
1/2-1 tsp curry powder and/or curry leaves (avail. at Indian stores) 
  garam masala * (recipe below if you want to make your own)
2 C. water
Garnish with chopped cilantro. You may also subst. chopped garlic for the hint
Soak the dal overnight or for three hours. Drain. Bring to a boil in a heavy bottomed pot. Much foam will rise to the surface. Skim it off (you can wait til it builds up and gets fairly curdy or else you'll be skimming for 10 mins.)
Reduce to simmer and cook for about 45 mins or until quite soft. You may want to check after 25 mins or so if you need to add more water. Remove from heat.
In a small pan, melt 2-4 T. ghee. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/8-1/4 tsp hing (asafoetida), 1 tsp. black mustard seeds, and 1/2 tsp. turmeric. Saute until the mustard seeds start popping. Then add garam masala*, brown for about 1 minute. Add to dal, stir thoroughly, boil for one minute to blend flavors, done.
*You may use a store bought bottle, (Frontier makes a good one) or even better make your own to have on hand:
equal parts or to taste:
red chili pepper
Korean Mung Bean Pancakes 
~ CSA Member, 

JiWon Park

Koreans take the presoaked mung beans  (

No pre-cooking  of the mung beans required) the blend it to make a batter-

a little bit thicker than pancake batter- and make mung bean pancakes with scallions, shredded carrots or virtually any vegetables you like...usually, we try for five colors.  Serve with soy sauce that has a little cayenne pepper or paprika.  

To blend, put some water in with the beans (not sure about ratio of water to beans but you want to end up with a smooth batter that is slightly thicker than pancake batter).  A blender or food processor both work.Add any cut up vegetables you like and then fry them like pancakes.  It's really hearty and especially on rainy days.

Other Sources:
Superimmunity for Kids by Leo Galland, M.D.
Spiritual Food CSA member input