An Obvious Point About Bean Cooking Not Everyone Knows
bean cooking heirloom beans In the kitchen Misc Rants Vegetarian Times Vegetarian>Vegan
A few years ago I did one of those farm to table dinners and it featured our beans. I loved sitting at the end of a long white table with fellow producers and eager diners. But then I sampled what a seemingly knowledgeable chef had done with our beans. I wanted to run in shame! They were about 40 minutes short of being fully cooked. In his head, al dente meant good. It may be good for pasta or snap peas but beans need to be fully cooked, for texture, flavor and digestibility. The March 2016 Vegetarian Times has an article on vegetarian diets and digestive issues and author Nicole Gregory quotes dietitian Mindy Hermann: "Beans don't do any good al dente. They need to be soft on the inside. The firmer they are, the harder they are to digest." This makes sense, especially when we hear all the time that our beans don't cause gas the way other beans can. Ours are fresher than most commercial commodity beans and therefore get softer faster and normally are thoroughly cooked easier. (As an aside, the other day in our local grocery store we saw a brand of heirloom beans with a "best by" date of 4 years out. I find this offensive. Who knows how old the beans were the moment they were bagged? How can you possibly give a "best by" date so far out, especially when storage is so out of your control?) Anyway, the end result is save al dente for your fresh vegetables. Dried beans should be cooked all the way.