Beans, Beans the Magical…

I admittedly don’t really know much about beans. I don’t recall them being a notable part of my diet growing up aside from frozen lima beans. On my journey of rediscovering staple foods I have been trying to learn as much as I can about the many varieties of beans and how to cook them. Beans are pretty amazing, coming in many different shapes, sizes, colours, and all being delicious and nutritious.

Spending last Saturday at Six Nations Polytechnic for their Hodinohso:ni Seed Exchange and Foods workshop, I admired the many varieties of beans people brought in to share. I played it safe and took home some black turtle beans to plant and later return as seed. I regret not taking home an awesome poster with many varieties I haven’t heard of before.

Whenever possible, I try to use dried beans as they are more vibrant in colour and texture, retain their nutritional value, and have less sodium than those that are canned. I will discuss storing and canning beans in a later column.

A very filling, protein rich, and affordable lunch we eat at the Edge of the Woods farm is rice and beans. This seemingly simple meal is tasty, healthy and gives you energy that will keep you going through the day. This guide is a result of a lot of trial and error. I have achieved yummy results using many different types of beans.

Step 1: Presoak Your Beans

There are different ways of presoaking your beans. I recommend soaking your beans in a generous amount of cold water in your fridge the night before cooking. If that is not an option there are ways to speed up the process but will result in a reduction of the nutritional value and colour of the beans. A boil and soak for an hour is one method. Another is bringing them to the boil three times in cold water.

Step 2: Cook Beans Adding Desired Seasoning

Cook onion and garlic in cooking oil on low heat until translucent. Add any dried herbs and spices you are using and salt (0.5 Tbsp per Cup of Beans). Add your beans and water in an approximate ratio of three parts water to one-part beans. Bring to the boil, skim off the white foam that will appear and reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered. You want to make sure the beans are covered by water the whole time so they will cook evenly. Add more water as needed.

When the beans have softened I add in my acidic ingredients like tomato or vinegar. This will stop the beans from going mushy.

Right before serving I adjust the seasoning, add my fresh herbs and if I’m in the mood I will sweeten with sugar or a natural sweetener.

The beans are even better the next day with your eggs and toast in the morning or for lunch again!

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