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Making beans easier to digest

 
pollinator
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So I like beans more than they like me.  Did some googling a while back and found a study that had two important points.  Soaking beans (which I had never done) and discarding the water helps remove the indigestible sugars that cause gas.  Eating a small serving of beans (1/4 cup) everyday helped the body adjust to digesting them.  I usually prepare them with rice as a meal and eat a cup or better for a couple days every week or two.  We have also noticed that the type of bean seems to make a difference.  Black beans seem better than pinto beans.  

Tonights’s black beans were soaked all day and rinsed before cooking.  I did notice that a lot of color soaked out of them.  I still ate a cup or better.  

I have looked into digestive enzymes such as Beano in the past but was put off by the cost, which was more than the beans!  Today I searched for a generic version and discovered that our least favorite retailer has a generic for the fraction of the cost, $.05 a dose.  Had my wife pick some up while she was out.  Didn’t try any tonight as I wanted to see what the presoak effect was.  If things go poorly, I will try the enzyme tomorow.
 
pollinator
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Do you have a space where you could grow your own beans? If so, I recommend the variety "Beefy Resilient Grex". It has an unusual flavor, 100% umami. But it's also the only bean I've tried that didn't cause gas.
 
Gray Henon
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Soaking didn’t seem to help much.  Trying the enzyme now…
 
pollinator
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I believe that Kombu is supposed to help increase the digestibility of beans in addition to the rest of it's benefits.  You can get it at any asian grocery store in a dried package, usually near the nori or noodles, or on amazon.
 
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Laurel beat me to it- try kombu, and still soak and discard the soak water anyway. I think your small quantities and getting used to it little by little is a good start.
Some traditional wisdom says certain types of beans are more digestible than others- I want to say mung and maybe azuki? Maybe also lentils.

There is also an herb called epazote that is traditionally cooked with beans in some Mexican dishes, you might want to investigate. https://www.thekitchn.com/ingredient-spotlight-epazote-152167
 
Gray Henon
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Initial enzyme results are promising.  Didn’t wake up in the middle of the night with a stomach ache.  Testing continues…
 
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Bean cooking aspects I've not seen mentioned in recent posts include adding some baking soda to the cooking water. For cooking 2 cups dry beans I use about a teaspoon of soda. This helps soften the beans and they cook more uniformly and quicker too. Also, as the pot of beans comes to a boil I scoop off any foam that forms.

Over the years of transitioning to an almost vegan diet, I've apparently developed a different gut flora such that beans and lentils make me feel good, and meat gives me gas. So, I think there is hope for recovery from the beans and gas issue.
 
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Drain the soak water.  You only need about one inch of Kombu for a pot of beans and put it in the pot first before the beans and water.  

The single most important rule about cooking beans is to NOT add salt until the last 20 minutes of cooking time, otherwise, it will make the beans hard and difficult to digest.      

Except in the case of freezing leftover beans which I think need to be frozen in the cooking water to eliminate freezer burn; I drain the cooking liquid because it makes the final dish taste better, which became obvious to me after many efforts to achieve a better flavor of Hummus.  Being Macrobiotic, I have many years experience cooking beans.  

Low temperature cooking will make a difference ...for example, cover the pot and cook on the lowest temperature until it comes nearly to the boil, then turn off the heat and let the pot cool.  Do not uncover the pot unless you are testing a bean for doneness.  When the pot is cool, turn on the lowest heat again and cook till it almost comes to the boil, then turn off the heat and let cool again.  Repeat as many times as it takes until they are cooked.  Never uncover the pot unless you are testing a bean for doneness.  

During the cooling periods, it can sit overnight or I can leave the house.  As long as there are no animal products in the pot, this long cooking time can happen over a couple of days because there is nothing in the pot that will go bad.    

During the cooling periods, the beans are still cooking because the pot remains hot for a long time.  This is the most gentle way to cook beans which makes them digestible.    
 
Gray Henon
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Went big, 2 cups of beans and some enzyme for lunch.  Let me just say I’m glad I didn’t need to go out in public…
 
pollinator
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This article also talks about soaking & kombu and also the role of digestion-enhancing spices: https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/food-features/putting-the-polish-on-those-humble-beans/

It has a “Neutralizing Phytic Acid” chart and it  also talks about the hardness of water and it’s effects on cooking beans. Age of beans can determine the cooking time which in turn could affect how well one digests them.The nourishing traditions cookbook suggests soaking in lemon juice, vinegar or whey but I haven’t noticed a significant difference with that. I did try sprouting lentils once or twice before cooking but the texture is a lot to get used to.

Side note: Peruvian beans make an excellent and creamy hummus.

I too like beans more than they like me back… but not to the point of being in pain. Thanks for sharing your experiment with us! I might try implementing eating some beans every day to see if that makes a difference in my body’s reaction to them.

I had to laugh when I just read the daily-ish… and wondered… how did Nicole know I made beans for dinner tonight?!
Beans-homemade-flour-tortillas.JPG
[Thumbnail for Beans-homemade-flour-tortillas.JPG]
 
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My wife has started cooking our beans in a pressure cooler this year and we've noticed this cut the gas significantly.

Also, we've had a few times where we ended up soaking the beans up to three days (changing water daily and putting them in the fridge after the first day).  We did this due to unforseen schedule/menu changes.  The results were much better beans with no gas.  If you live in an area where the temperature is in the 30s, it might be an easy thing to put them in an unheated space.  (Our fridge is usually too full to accommodate a big pot of beans.)
 
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Throw away the soaking water. Also throw away the water they first come to the boil in. Start small and gradually increase the "dose" over time and your body should get the best chance of adapting.

I had trouble at one time, but not as much as I got / get from wholemeal flour!
 
pollinator
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Do you notice gas with other food? You might want to try a low FodMap diet. (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols). It avoids any food that ferments in your body. You first do an elimination diet of avoiding all high fodmap foods, then gradually add food back into your diet, one food at a time to see what causes you distress. If your gas is very smelly...avoid onions at all costs. I try to avoid all high fodmap foods but can't always. Even apples, pears, and stone fruit are high fodmap. We all know things like broccoli and cabbage cause gas, but seriously who doesn't love broccoli? I take a generic beano, a dairy aid (generic Lactaid), and a gluten aid, as well as maximum strength gas x (again, generic) Because I cheat and eat some high fodmap food including beans, I still get gas, but, by avoiding onions they aren't smelly for the most part. Yes, I could clear a room before this!
 
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I love Rancho Gordo beans. I am growing scarlet runners now, biggest bean I've seen in my entire life and as a vegan I eat beans pretty much daily. Every kind. My favorites besides heirlooms from RG are much black beans, black eyed peas, and pinto. Garbanzos are used sparingly, as are lima, great white northern, etc.

Kombu is good, vegan chef Bryant Terry soaks beans in kosher salt and vinegar. Eating pickles with every meal is not common here in the US as it is with ancient cultures, it improves digestion. I am not certain how the vinegar functions during a soak, I think it's mostly for flavor but it may impact digestion.

Lastly for a naturalized method, gas is usually a sign of weak digestion. I have successfully grown multiple epazote plants from their microscopic seeds and they are on their way to maturity, I was a terrible gardener when I first tried this. The seeds are very similar to tobacco or tiny standard herb seeds. This herb has been used for a very long time in Mexico. Locally, I found dried epazote a single time at the most random pitstop. However, you want the fresh leaves, just add them to the bean stock. Has a very bizarre but strangely delectable smell, almost like natural ethanol and fruity and a little exotic.

 
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Okay here are a few other concepts to aid when cooking beans.  First is to add a pinch of baking soda to the soaking water bath.  I have not soaked my beans for years but I add the following carrots to the pot when cooking.  The carrot method arrived from a lovely lady whose family grew beans for a living so I would think they know a few  great tips.    I sort and rinse the beans and add water which covers the beans with  about 2 inches or more of water.   I also add a pinch of baking soda and a dash of sugar and place the lid on the pot as well.  I do stir the beans from time to time and remove the foam from the surface while cooking .   All beans reflect the amount of time they have been sitting on ones shelf one needs to soften the water so depending on the location even a little bit of vinegar may help as well.  I do know that when cooking  or eating raw cabbage I add carrots, apples or apple sauce or apple cider to cooking process.   I happen to like a split blend of yogurt and  mayonnaise with a spoonful of applesauce to the  salad dressing for coleslaw or carrot raisin and a dash or two of ginger adds a bit of spice to  the blend.  
 
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Josephine Howland wrote:Do you notice gas with other food? You might want to try a low FodMap diet. (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, And Polyols). It avoids any food that ferments in your body. You first do an elimination diet of avoiding all high fodmap foods, then gradually add food back into your diet, one food at a time to see what causes you distress. If your gas is very smelly...avoid onions at all costs. I try to avoid all high fodmap foods but can't always. Even apples, pears, and stone fruit are high fodmap. We all know things like broccoli and cabbage cause gas, but seriously who doesn't love broccoli? I take a generic beano, a dairy aid (generic Lactaid), and a gluten aid, as well as maximum strength gas x (again, generic) Because I cheat and eat some high fodmap food including beans, I still get gas, but, by avoiding onions they aren't smelly for the most part. Yes, I could clear a room before this!



Can you post the list of theses foods here please?
 
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I seem to be blessed with a digestive track that can take anything in stride, but that was not the case for my mom. With her, there was also a bit of discomfort, but she found a trick that she swore by: First, soak them OVERNIGHT.  For the soaking, she didn't add salt or anything, just a little baking soda [but that seems to make them 'mushy' faster, I think]. It may also remove some vitamins. At least that is the case with asparagus and green beans mom said.
She did put them in *warm* water. The next day, she would drain the beans, put them in fresh cold water, bring the water to a boil and also discard *that* water. Drain and rinse, then cook as usual. Season just before bringing to the table.
If you use as bit of baking soda and then decide you want to can them, make sure you really rinse them well: the baking soda messes with the PH of the beans and they might spoil! If in doubt, add a little vinegar to bring the PH balance toward the acidic.
If you think that is a lot of messing around, it seems so to me too, and to her also. So in the fall, she would make great big batches of beans and can them all. This way, we had non speaking, just delicious with bacon, beans year long. The energy to can 12 pints of beans and then warm them up one at a time probably compares favorably with cooking one meal of beans every time, but I'm nil at math. If you like your beans seasoned, canning them with seasoning enhances the flavor of the seasoning. If you can them with bacon, treat them like you are canning meat, which requires higher pressure in your pressure canner.
I do love the convenience of just grabbing one pint of cooked beans whenever I want one too.  Having them canned means that I can use them cold in salads, which I love when it's hot outside but I need the energy.
 
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I found that cowpeas (AKA black-eyed peas, southern peas, field peas) don't seem to cause me trouble--they are a different species than most beans, Vigna unguiculata, same as asparagus beans (aka yard-long beans and red noodle beans). These also seem less troubled by bugs and rabbits than most beans.
 
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I'm not much of a help in this department but have a question of my own, if anyone has experienced post-digestive issues after consuming Fava beans?
I am trying to grow some for the very first time this year. The seeds are in the ground. I'm awaiting seedlings.
I used to eat them eons ago as a kid, but haven't had any  since.
It's hard to get the true Fava beans as they're  classified as  broad beans. Even Googling "it", the information is  confusing. I beg to differ but  what do I know? I'm just starting the "bean romance" LOL
Thanks to anyone who can share some thoughts.
 
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"Broad beans" is simply the British English term for fava beans, so keep googling happily.

There are a couple of issues with fava beans, though. Some individuals have a bad reaction to them. Fava beans are grown near me but I've decided not to use them often, in case any of my guests turn out to have a problem.
 
pollinator
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A tablespoon of Milk sugar is very often used for Babies to release "Greenhouse Gasses" after bottle feeding in one long shot...

Caraway seeds calm cabbage stews down  

I reckon they will do the job also for Beans...
 
Mary Cook
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i don't know about the gaseousness of beans in particular, but  caraway seeds and their relatives--notably fennel seeds--are good for relieving heartburn and indigestion. i make a tea of mint, chamomile and fennel seeds, sometimes with lavender, which i call hangover helper and it works with most any kind of stomach upset. sometimes i just chew on fennel seeds, like if i have a touch of heartburn when i'm going to bed. Ususally works immediately.
 
Jeff Steez
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The above reminded me of my Chinese medicine book..

Digestion works best in warm environment, Americans prefer cold drinks, I started to only ever drink room temperature or hot things like most Europeans for the past 3+ years or so, save for beer or summer lemonade. Americans also tend to lack, severely, "digestive bitters" such as dandelion. In India, or if you've ever been to an Indian restaurant, there's almost always some fennel in a dish often paired with a sweet candy. Here you can just nosh on fennel with some rock sugar or raw sugar.

These are easier recipes, a number of digestion recipes call for tough ingredients like atractylodes, or rare herbs (at at least in America) I've been trying to grow from the online store Strictly Medicinal.

After-Dinner fennel:
- 3 Tbsp fennel
- 2 tsp rock sugar
- eat straight or soak in hot water for an hour, drain excess water

Digestive bitters decoction:
- 2 tsp tangerine peel
- 1 cup water
- bring to boil in non-aluminum saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes, drink before meal

Decoction for gas and bloating:
- 3 tsp fennel
- 5-10 cardamom pods crush well
- 1.5 cups water
- bring to boil in non-aluminum saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes, drink before meal


 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Ela La Salle wrote:I'm not much of a help in this department but have a question of my own, if anyone has experienced post-digestive issues after consuming Fava beans?
I am trying to grow some for the very first time this year. The seeds are in the ground. I'm awaiting seedlings.
I used to eat them eons ago as a kid, but haven't had any  since.
It's hard to get the true Fava beans as they're  classified as  broad beans. Even Googling "it", the information is  confusing. I beg to differ but  what do I know? I'm just starting the "bean romance" LOL
Thanks to anyone who can share some thoughts.




Because I come from France and my sister and I often can't find the proper translation for some plants, we use the Latin name. That is a great authority I encourage all of you to look at when confused. so, anyway:
The Wiki says they are both Vicia faba. The best distinction comes from this British site:
"Fava beans are the same species as the fresh or frozen green broad beans more familiar in British cooking but fava beans are the fully mature dried fruit of smaller seeded varieties. Varieties of Vicia faba grown to be eaten as fresh broad beans tend to have larger, flatter, broader (hence the name) seeds".
https://hodmedods.co.uk/blogs/news/what-are-fava-beans-are-they-just-broad-beans#:~:text=They're%20the%20same%20species,(hence%20the%20name)%20seeds
So the Fava beans are smaller seeded and eaten as dry beans.
The broad bean makes larger seeds and can be eaten fresh.
So sometimes the Latin name gives you the right information but leaves out important details.
Take beets and mangels: they are both beta vulgaris but are very different in their sugar content and uses.
A plant can be grown for different characteristics that are then cultivated for 2 different purposes, and through careful selection, 2 plants come to be used that are very different, yet have the same Latin name.
 
Ela La Salle
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Rebecca Norman wrote:"Broad beans" is simply the British English term for fava beans, so keep googling happily.

There are a couple of issues with fava beans, though. Some individuals have a bad reaction to them. Fava beans are grown near me but I've decided not to use them often, in case any of my guests turn out to have a problem.


Thank you for your response :-)
 
Ela La Salle
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson,

Thank you kindly. I appreciate your explanation.
I'm European. The confusing part I find, is that Latin names on seed packets themselves, are different, of the same bean. Some don't have any.  
The ones I remember from childhood, were big, meaty, picked green from green pods, but BIG! .Eaten after being cooked, and darn delicious



 
Jeff Steez
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I happen to have a bag of these beans from Kitazawa Seed, a mostly Japanese seed company, and the bag labels them as Windsor everybody has a name for them! I guess that’s the varietal though… Broad Windsor
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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Ela La Salle wrote:Cécile Stelzer Johnson,
Thank you kindly. I appreciate your explanation.
I'm European. The confusing part I find, is that Latin names on seed packets themselves, are different, of the same bean. Some don't have any.  
The ones I remember from childhood, were big, meaty, picked green from green pods, but BIG! .Eaten after being cooked, and darn delicious




I'm European too [French] but I live in Wisconsin and I'm observing the same thing: A number of seed packets do not have the Latin name. I try to not buy them and let the seed people know that in the name of truth in labeling, there ought to be one so folks really KNOW what they are buying.
Along with genetic manipulation, there is a blurring of the lines. With the kinds of prices we are seeing and the smaller packets, no wonder folks will be better off creating their own landraces. When you grow and develop your own, you know what you have. I've taken to being serious about saving seeds systematically.


 
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