Remember those beans I mentioned last week? Well, I lied. I never soaked them. Although I was planning on doing it right after I published the last post, I never got around to it. Fortunately, black beans don’t actually need to be soaked before cooking, so I could still make my beans as planned in the slow cooker. That made me wonder why people go through the effort and planning to soak them in the first place.
Google led me to this thread on Chowhound where others discuss this exact topic. The most reappearing reasons were to remove the gas-causing component and make cook time quicker. One of the most interesting reasons I saw came from this post on a Cooking For Engineers thread. The poster states that soaking reduces phytic acid, which is known to prevent absorption of the very vitamins and minerals that beans often provide.
Of course, there were some anti-soaking arguments as well. Notable ones stated that soaking beans, while removing the gas-causing component, will also remove much of the flavor of the bean. It is also “known” that as one’s body becomes more accustomed to eating beans, the digestive system will be less reactive to these gas-causing elements, eliminating the need to soak them. Others mentioned that the cooking time was only shorter by a negligible amount and that it is possible to accidentally over soak beans, ruining them.
I think the reducing the amount of phytic acid alone is a great reason to soak beans, but that’s not going to stop me from cooking beans without soaking if I feel like actually having them that day.
Now, onto my beans. I made “Cuban” black beans. I put it in quotes because it was hard for me to find an authentic recipe. Most included cilantro and lime but had comments from Cubans that said these were Mexican ingredients. In all, the “recipe” I used was garnered from comments on several recipes and even the back of the bag the beans came in.
To make a small batch, I used one yellow onion, one green bell pepper, several cloves of garlic, all sauteed slightly in olive oil, about two cups of dried beans and five cups of water. I also tossed in about one tablespoon each of oregano and cumin before cooking on low for 4 hours. When it was done, I added a couple tablespoons of vinegar and mixed.
I ate it that night over brown rice with the usual veggies on the side. It was OK, nothing extraordinary. The next day, however, it tasted phenomenal. I served it as a side dish to some chicken enchiladas and added some lime juice on top for extra flavor. I’ve also eaten them in a breakfast burrito with eggs, shredded cheese, and salsa. Unlike the pot roast, these beans are much more versatile and I haven’t gotten sick of them yet.
These beans have been feeding me all week, on the cheap. Unlike meat, beans are a good source of protein AND many vitamins and minerals, like thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. They are also a very good source of fiber and folate. Bravo to the black bean!
I think the next bean I will experiment with is lentils. Is it sad that I am truly looking forward to it? 😀
These were the recipes I culled my own from. Be sure to check out the comments.