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Black (Turtle) Beans

Nutritional information:
Like other beans and legumes, turtle beans strengthen the kidneys and adrenal glands and therefore promote physical growth and development.  As does the protein in meat, bean protein builds body mass; but unlike meat, beans don't add cholesterol, saturated fat, or toxic nitrogen byproducts.  A stick-to-the-ribs filling food, beans are more "grounding" than a salad.  

A bean's color indicates the organ it most benefits, and thus, the black beans' color indicate how it's double supportive to the kidneys.  Beans reduce the levels of serum cholesterol and so offer some protection against heart disease.  They are a superior carbohydrate for people with diabetes or blood sugar imbalances, since they are slowly digested and cause only a gradual rise in blood sugar levels.  The phytochemical diosgenin, which appears to inhibit cancer cells from multiplying, is found in beans.  Furthermore, black beans are a good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Thiamin, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese, and a very good source of Folate.

Food Fun Facts: The small, shiny black turtle bean is especially popular in Latin American cuisine. It is often called simply the black bean (frijol negro in Spanish). The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture and flavor reminiscent of mushrooms and it a member of the kidney bean family. It is a very popular bean in various regions of Brazil, and is used in the national dish, feijoada. It is also a principal ingredient of Platillo Moros y Cristianos in Cuba, is a must-have in the typical gallo pinto of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and is served in almost all of Latin America. (

See the General Bean Page for storage and basic cooking tips

Simple from Scratch:
As a rule, no salt is added until the beans are soft, since salt tends to draw the moisture out of things. Remember, beans take time, or pressure, to cook.

If presoaked, pressure cook black beans for 15 min. at 15 lbs. pressure.
If not presoaked, add 5 min. cooking time at 15 lbs. pressure.

For cooking without pressure, bring presoaked beans to boil, then simmer 1 1/2 hours.
If not presoaked, add 30 min. to cooking time.
(Tassajara Cooking: Norval Delwyn Carlson)

Other Recipes:

Beans and Greens: By Deborah Madison  .

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves, 1 slivered, 1 halved
1-pound greens of your choice
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked beans

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. Add onion and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. When the onion starts to soften, add the garlic. Cook a bit more, and then add the greens. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Keep stirring the greens as they wilt, so that the wilted ones are on top and the not wilted ones get a chance to wilt. Once they've all wilted, add 1/2 c. water or chicken broth, lower the heat, and cook, partially covered, until the greens are tender (The time varies depending on the greens). When the greens are done, add the beans, heat them through, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Cuban-style Black Beans:


Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat; cook 4 cloves minced garlic in the oil 15 seconds. Stir in 1 chopped onion and 1 chopped green bell pepper; cook and stir. Pour in 2 cups pre-cooked black beans, 1 tsp cumin powder. ½ tsp oregano, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar; simmer until thick, about 15 minutes; garnish with cilantro, salt to taste. These are quite good when served over a bed of rice seasoned with lime.



Black Bean Dip: Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.


2 cups cooked black beans, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/3 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder, 1 Tbsp cilantro, 1 ½  tbsp Pickled Jalapeno Juice, 2 tsp Jalapeno (optional)


Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 28-can diced tomatoes
4 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped cilantro

Instructions: Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, red pepper, garlic, and salt. Sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the sweet potato and lime zest, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, continuing to stir occasionally. Add the tomatoes, black beans, jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cocoa, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over brown rice, if desired, with lime wedges and cilantro, or with corn bread, biscuits, or taco chips alongside.