Tooting My Own Horn: My Bean Homework Is Completed!

dried beansWith two kids under the age of 11 and one husband who still sometimes acts like a kid :-), you can well imagine that the topic of tooting comes up a lot in our house.

I will spare you the gassy details, but suffice it to say, toots and beans, beans and toots, toots and pretty much anything {we can always blame it on the dog!} make for a lot of giggling at Casa Stewart.

If you’re wondering what all this tooting talk is leading up to, let me just tell you, that today I am tooting my own horn, because I finally finished the “Bean Homework” assigned to me by “Professor” Lauren Slayton of my favorite Foodtrainers Blog.

I will confess I’m rather tardy with completing my assignment, but I’m so glad I finally turned in my homework, so I can share my bean soaking glory with you, plus a couple of my all time favorite bean recipes.

The assignment went something like this…

…this month, there’s only one assignment I’m throwing out there, beans. Beans would probably make my list of the top 10 healthiest foods;  I’m not fond of canned foods so I’ve been using the Fig Food boxed beans. I really should soak and cook my own beans (less packaging, less salt, less expensive) but I don’t…the reason I don’t soak beans is really that I’m too lazy…So we have good odds, an 85% chance of soaking success, are you with me? If you’re sitting back a smug soaker, I’m sure there’s something else you been putting off.  What’s something you buy that you can make at home or DIY? You have until April.~Foodtrainers 3/9/12


Well, here we are almost halfway through June, and I’m just now getting around to my assignment.

See what I told you about being a little tardy turning in my homework???

Well, better late than never, right?

I did “cheat” a tiny bit though. {Shh…don’t tell my kids!}

After deciding to complete my assignment and write this post all in one day, I knew I couldn’t soak beans overnight, a la Lauren, but after doing a little internet research, {read all about soaking v. not soaking beans here on Chowhound} I realized that my success rate would likely still be high with the “quick soak method” described below, and in Bon Apetit.

Quick Soak Method for Dried Beans

Place dried beans in a large pot and cover with enough cold water so there is about 3 inches of water above the beans.  Heat beans {lid off} until simmering, then simmer for 2 minutes.  Remove pot from heat, and let beans sit, covered in pot, for 1 hour.  Drain water from beans, rinse, and drain again.  Beans are now ready to cook or eat.

dried beansStart with dried beans…

floating beansCover them with water.  You may have a few “floaters”

soaked beansAfter cooking/soaking, rinse and drain the beans…

eye of the goat beansSuccess. In less than 1 1/2 hours, you now have healthy and delicious beans ready for your favorite recipe!

Homework complete!

But, wait, I’d love a little extra credit from my professor {Nothing wrong with kissing up to your teachers, right??}, so before I go, I’ll share a little “beany” Q and A with you…

Why should I go to the trouble of soaking dried beans when I can just open up a can?

Eye of the What beans???

  • Eye of the Goat!  I had the good luck to discover these beans a couple of weeks ago when I had a “day to play” visiting the Ferry Terminal Building {a MUST visit} in San Francisco while my hubby was busy working at a conference.  These heirloom beans come from a Napa company called Rancho Gordo. They offer thirty-two varieties of heirloom beans on their website, plus some other pretty cool stuff including corn, dried herbs, spices, chilis, rice, and grains.  Be sure and check them out!rancho gordo eye of the goat heirloom beansLook how this lady is licking her lips!  These are pretty tasty beans!!

What’s so special about beans?  Why should I be eating them???

  • Beans are nutritional powerhouses:  Loaded with fiber {soluble and insoluble}, lean protein, complex carbs, vitamins and minerals {some varieties are high in iron}, and phytonutrients, beans give you some of the best nutritional bang for your buck. They are also low on the glycemic index which help keeps blood sugar levels stable.  Pretty healthy stuff!  I paid ~$6.00 for my bag of beans which yielded 6 cups/36 ounces of beans ofter quick soaking.  This equates to $2.72 cent/pound {and this is for pricier heirloom beans!}  Compare this to $6.99 plus/pound for organic chicken or even more than that for a pound of grass fed beef.  From both a nutrition and a cost perspective, it just makes a lot of sense to include more beans in our diets!
But what about the taste?  Can you share some favorite recipes with me?
  • One of my favorite simple bean recipes is Kim Kelly’s {Liv Life Blog} recipe for Bean’s a la Charra.  I have made these beans several times now and they never disappoint.  This is where my soaked Eye of the Goat beans are headed, to be served on top of corn tortillas topped with a little grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and, oh yes, my favorite chopped cilantro.  Simple and delicious!
  • Another favorite recipe I’ve been making a lot lately is this Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Salad Sandwich from Two Peas and Their Pod.  It is SO easy and SO good.  I serve it open face on gluten-free toast, and top it off with sliced tomatoes or micro greens.  Absolutely divine!
OK. So beans sound good and all, but what about the tooting thing???
  • I think it’s pretty well known that eating beans can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort {aka toots}, and for some people {i.e. those that have IBS} these toots can be more extreme.  The gas, and subsequent “toots” occur due to a difficulty breaking down the sugar/carbohydrate in beans.  Some people are definitely affected more by this than others are.  A couple of solutions to try if you have this problem, are to simply eat smaller amounts of beans, or to try using a digestive enzyme such as Beano or Bean-Zyme, which will help break down the carbohydrates in the beans. In addition, if you soak or quick soak your beans and discard the soaking liquid, you will be eliminating some of gaseous carbohydrates.
Before you go soak some beans, check out some of my photos from my trip to SF where I discovered these glorious dried beans!!
Mariposa Bakery ferry terminal building
Besides heirloom beans, you will also find my favorite bay area gluten-free bakery, Mariposa Baking Company, inside the Ferry Terminal Building.
coit tower san francisco
Coit Tower~Whenever I’m in San Francisco I hit the hills for exercise!
san francisco viewThe view from the top is well worth the hike! 
fuchsiaGlorious fuchsias in bloom on the walk to the top! 
Are you a bean eater?  Do you soak your own beans, or cook with dried beans?  What’s your favorite way to serve beans? Do beans give you a lot of, ahem, gas???
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  1. I love, love this post. So much info! I do TRY to soak my own beans more often using the quick soak method. But it seems once I cook them, they are just never soft enough to my liking. Maybe they never get that way unless they are canned…and the heat processing softens them. But I do find cooking then freezing helps soften them some…and is practical, because once I get around to cooking them, I cook more than I need. Any tips on getting them soft?

    • So glad you liked the post Serena! Wish I had some tips for getting the beans softer and to your liking…Have you ever tried the pressure cooker method? I haven’t tried this yet, but apparently this is very common in Mexico, where beans are typically not soaked, but usually cooked in a pressure cooker. May be worth a try….If you give if a go, let me know how it works!

    • Maybe your water is hard serena. I’m on a phone or else I’d include a link!

  2. Very informative post, EA…I soak my beans (harder varieties) overnight and pressure cook for 8-10 whistles. And then use them for my cooking…most of the times my beans come out soft and mushy. Beautiful clicks.

    • Love that you have a system that includes waiting 8-10 whistles Sanjeeta :-). I’m wondering though if the overnight soak plus the presssure cook, THEN the cooking is causing them to come out mushy….So interesting to learn about everyone’s bean soaking/cooking methods!

  3. Bravo, so proud of you. I adore Rancho Gordo too (we may have been separated at birth), try their popcorn, amazing. So, despite being late you get an A because you threw in the nice Q and A and your photos, as always, are beyond. However, I should note that if I wasn’t so nice I could also say, first you’re late with your work and then you cheat? Hmn, what kind of things are you teaching those tooting kids?

    • Thanks for the A professor :-). I promise to try and be a model citizen for my children when they are home from school this summer! I saw that popcorn too on Rancho Gordo’s website, plus all their other varieties of beans have made me a new fan too!

  4. I don’t eat a lot of beans, but I do buy them often for Nick (the reason I don’t eat them is because of the GAS! I have to take about 3 Beano for every half cup, that’s expensive!).
    I honestly have never soaked my beans, but…I should one day, just to see the taste difference. Thanks for the tutorial. Enjoy your weekend!

    • Thanks for sharing Gina :-). I have seen you recommend beano before on your blog, but I can definitely imagine it getting expensive if you have to take 3 per every half cup of beans! Let me know if you try the soak method and discard the liquid, which may help, at least a little, with the “gas” problem.

  5. What a great post!!!
    My boy has been the one actually that has had me soak beans. I hate to say I usually use cans. But this post has definitely inspired me!!!
    Have a fabulous weekend! 🙂

  6. EA – adorable! Your post is such a riot and the pics are just gorgeous! One of my kitchen teachers was my Mexican grandmother so I grew up with beans soaking and cooking each weekend. I aspire to do it often on my own except… half the time then sit in the pot too long, ferment, and then have to be tossed. Or they sit dry in the pantry forever (along with those cans of sardines). And, soaking beans for 1 is my biggest challenge. While healthy, best in moderation (like everything!) You’ve certainly inspired me to soak again!

  7. Great post. I love rancho gordo, I bought a lot when I was doing my bean project last year. I found soaking over night and the next day while I was work was perfect. My beans never took more than 1-1.5 hours to cook. My husband hated my bean project though. I thought his gut would get used to it, but it never did!

    • Thanks Nicole! I’m so curious about your bean project…I’d love to try soaking overnight for comparison, but not sure if I’ll plan my bean soaking that far in advance. Sorry to hear your hubby and beans don’t mix!

  8. great post! I must go there sometime! Hope you’re well!!

  9. The bean photos are gorgeous–who knew beans could be so beautiful?! And it’s funny, because I discovered Rancho Gordo beans yesterday! I didn’t buy the beans this time, but I did buy a bag of their chia seeds. 🙂

  10. Love beans and love your post! I prefer using dried beans over canned just because they taste so much better. In august, we usually get large bags of fresh cranberry beans, shuck them and freeze them for the year. It’s a real treat!

  11. ha! i was wondering if your post title was a coincidence or an intentional pun. =) i need to experiment more with dried beans – i cook with canned beans quite a bit, but they can be mushy + I don’t like all the chemicals that can be in there. these tips are great!

  12. I love the looks of those heirloom beans. I must try them now. The last beans I soaked were butter beans an it was a total disaster. All the skins separated and everything turned to mush when I cooked it. I guess I should have make a dip or something but I was mad so I threw them away!

  13. You sure DID do your homework!!! I am a bad dietitian. I rarely soak my beans and buy the canned. 🙁 I love beans though…you are right, you really cannot top their nutrition facts!!! I love a good bean burger. Hummus is always in my fridge. Beans and rice is made often. I put them in anything I can…by teenage will actually eat them so this is a plus for me!
    Your heirloom beans sound like a real treasure!! Great shots Spicy…I always love your eye!!

  14. we use dried beans all the time I have an Indian hubby though he grew up eating them

  15. I love how kale and banana paired is so delicious together:-) This looks beautiful! Hugs, Terra

  16. I am a bit late with my suggestions, but I love beans! Soups, salads, stir-fries, sauces, you name it! Even dessert (I have a really great chocolate black bean cookie recipe – you would have no clue there are black beans in it!) I recently discovered Rancho Gordo as well and have had great results with his beans… nothing beats fresh beans, cooked from scratch. 🙂


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