Oh, No! Beans!


Post by community member:

In a December post, Jim in Colorado shared a recipe for An Unusual Fudge. He also shared the poetry of Beans, beans, the magical fruit… I always thought it was Beans, beans, a work of art. The more you eat the more you… The more you need to read this post!

We keep reading and hearing that our American diets need more fiber. There are a variety of health reasons that support the consumption of beans, but for some, the abdominal discomfort and bad side effects make them something to be avoided. Beans cause discomfort due to two complex sugars that are difficult for the body to break down. After watching others eat chili and wishing I could enjoy the dish too, I learned that beans don’t have to have to cause problems.

According to ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon, traditional societies knew how to prepare beans so they would be more nutritious and cause less digestive discomfort. It’s necessary to neutralize phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors as well as break down those complex sugars that cause that little problem. Shh! Yes, that problem. Beans must not only be soaked to accomplish this, but they must be soaked with an acidic medium such as whey or lemon juice. This can only be done with dried beans.

To properly soak beans:

Use 1 Tablespoon of whey (from draining yogurt) or lemon juice for each cup of dried beans. Place beans in a large pot and cover them with water (preferably filtered). Stir in the whey or lemon juice and soak them in a warm place (not over direct heat) for 12-24 hours.

Then you must drain the beans, rinse them and cover them with water. As they come to boil, you must skim the foam off the top. Many of you who can, should be used to the idea that skimming removes impurities. The beans are then simmered for 4-8 hours. I have found a crock pot is ideal for this after they come to boil. It’s very hard to bring the crock pot to boil in the beginning stages of cooking the beans. More water may be needed as they cook.

Get the handy print page and save this to your recipe box here:
To Soak Beans.

I have been soaking beans this way for several years and we can enjoy delicious chili without the bad side effects. Try it! It works.

Patrice blogs at Everyday Ruralty.

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  1. Lindsay says:

    Thanks for the tip! Believe it or not, I’ve never actually used dried beans, but I’m planning on planting some in the garden this coming season and I do have some bags of dried beans for Just-In-Case situations. I’ll definitely be giving this a try. Thanks again!

  2. Rah says:

    Sounds like a great solution. How much lemon juice or whey do you use?

  3. Patrice says:

    Rah- That’s a Tablespoon per cup of dried beans.
    Everyone- I omitted that the type of whey needed is the liquid when you strain plain yogurt. It is not the powdered type that you get at a health food store.

  4. CindyP says:

    Sounds like a great idea for my brothers! THANK YOU! I can serve them baked beans again!

    Can you use the whey from you drain other from other cheeses…I assume so.

  5. Patrice says:

    I understand you do not use the whey from cheese because it is not cultured like yogurt. The lacto-fermentation of yogurt may be what breaks down the phytic acids and complex sugars. In times when I did not have any yogurt drained, I just stirred in the same amount of yogurt and it worked great!

  6. Pete says:

    Many years ago I had read that folks who don’t eat beans regularly suffer the most from the side effects. Not sure what the rationale was on that (it made sense at the time, but the details escape me), but apparently eating beans regularly (as in several times each week) allows the digestive tract to adjust to the chemical processes.

    Eat more beans! It helps overcome those ill effects, and allows for better uptake of the wonderful nutrients in them!!

  7. Pete says:

    Oops! Got distracted!!

    Great post, Patrice. Thanks!!!

  8. Ross says:

    I have always noticed that long soaks and long cooking made a great difference. Split peas don’t need to be soaked but they still need very long thorough cooking to avoid them causing people problems.

  9. Kathi N says:

    Yes, Jim is quite the poet. 🙂

    Usually he makes WAY too many beans (’cause he is such a fun) and I get beaned-out way easier than he does. Hence, his creativity with bean recipies (a la pinto-bean fudge) to keep me eating them with him.

    Good post, Patrice — thank you.

  10. Kathi N says:

    Oops — Jim *IS* fun, but I really meant he is a “fan”

  11. Jim in Colorado says:

    Thanks Patrice.
    OK, now every one sing along.
    Beans, beans, the magical fruit, The more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel. So we have beans at every meal.

    You can never have to many beans. And I have found, that really, the more of them you have the less the problems will show up. It takes your system a few days to ajust.

    I use to eat beans at lest once a week, in some form or fashon. Also,I have found that if you soak them over night, then rinse, then cook in your presure cooker, you will not have the bad side afects.

    I have heard that you can add, one peeled apple or a peeled potato to your beans when cooking. Then discard when the beans are done.

    Now you have made me hungy for beans.

  12. Barbee says:

    Patrice, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m guessing that vinegar would work, too. We would be more likely to have vinegar at hand than yogurt or lemon juice. Maybe I should experiment.

  13. bonita says:

    Pete—I’ve heard the same information, eat beans regularly and you have fewer bean problems in general. Works in our house! Beans 2 x wk, minimum

  14. Sundownr says:

    Hi folks,
    I hope you don’t mind if I pitch in my 2-cents worth about beans! Apple cider vinegar (ACV) works to dissolve the phytic acid in the bean soak too, but don’t use it with lentils or split peas, or any other dried legumes that have a low phytic acid cover. They may never soften, regardless of how much you cook them.

    Also, if you soak the beans until they start to split open and/or have a little tail of a sprout starting (24-36 hrs), you will ramp up the bean’s nutritional values considerably!

    We should all eat more beans!

  15. Patrice says:

    Sundownr- I’m happy to have your 2 cents worth on this subject. I know cider vinegar works for removing phytic acid, but with things like grains, it often imparts a strong flavor.My family likes whey or yogurt since they don’t leave a flavor.

  16. princessvanessa says:

    Never tried the whey, lemon juice, or ACV. I have, for many years, soaked dried beans with about a tablespoon of baking soda. You do it the same way…water, beans and baking soda soaking overnight. Drain and rinse beans and slow cook.

  17. Sundownr says:

    Patrice, I’ve never noticed a vinegar after taste! I rinse after soaking overnight, then fill the pot with plain water again for the final soak.

    princessvanessa, I had never heard of using baking soda until this morning when a friend was telling me that was her way of soaking beans, too. I’ll have to give that a try!

  18. Darlene in North GA says:

    Umm…about the baking soda. Yes, it will also make “hard” (old) beans soften, but the problem is, it kills some of the vitamin B complex in the beans.


    This site gives some really helpful tips about cooking beans. I’ve cooked with dried beans for about 35 years and I learned a couple of useful things – and people tell me I’m a good cook.


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