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Another Thought on Why We Soak Beans

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In the garden

We're harvesting Yellow Indian Woman beans and I decided to have a little party in this fine legume's honor. I irritated my bean farmer and had him give me 5 pounds of unmilled beans. This means they are right out of the ground, a romantic concept until you realize you have to look long and hard for organic debris that is inevitably mixed in with the beans. I will tell you now that 5 pounds is a lot of beans to sort through but there is almost nothing worse when eating a beautiful bowl of heirloom beans than biting into a rock or dirt clod. I did this early in the day and it's kind of amazing how much dirt is there. I find the best way to do it is on a sheet pan. I didn't find any rocks but clods of dirt were plentiful. These beans were two weeks old and really, soaking was 100% unnecessary. Something in me said to go ahead and do it as with a little soaking, these dirt bombs would disintegrate and could be rinsed away with the soaking water. I started thinking that maybe this is partly why old timers insisted on soaking their beans. These bits of dirt were very sneaky and seemed determined to stay, even with my eagle eyes. You must check your commercial beans and rinse them but these days it's not likely you'll find much. But the thought of a bite of dirt should be enough inspiration to keep checking and maybe soak.


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