Monday, June 4, 2012

How I Go Green With My Beans

One of my favorite ways to go green with my food, aside from being vegan and eating organic is to make my own beans. Now I'm not talking about growing my own beans in a garden or something...I'm not quite there yet! What I am talking about is buying my beans dry and cooking them myself as opposed to buying them in a can. I'm all about the convenience of cans, but until I read about the possibility of BPA (short for Bisphenol A) in the can lining, I knew I had to find an alternative. BPA  has been linked to a number of health problems and diseases like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and infertility. Read more about the study here, conducted by the Environmental Working Group that found unsafe levels of BPA in 50% of the canned beans tested.

Enough about the science...let's get to those beans!

In order to cook my own beans as opposed to buying them in cans, it takes a little work and time, but it can save you money, help you go green, and as in the case of the BPA...decrease the amount of toxins you unknowingly put in your body.

For today's beans (in the video shown below) I am making:

Home-Cooked Black Beans

  • 2 cups of dry, organic black beans found at the bulk food section of my local health food store
  • water
  • 1 Tbs. safflower oil
  • 1 strip of kombu for soaking and baking (to help with digestion)
  • a pressure cooker (I have a Presto 6 QT Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker $47) or large stock pot
  1. Measure out the amount of beans you need. I usually do 1 cup dry per "can" of beans I need. Place in a large bowl and cover with water.  Allow for expansion of the beans, so put a little water in just in case.
  2. Soak the beans overnight or for 8-12 hours.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans.
  4. Place beans in the pressure cooker and fill with enough water to cover the beans once again. Read more on your specific pressure cooker as to how full/or not full it should be.
  5. Add 1 Tbs. oil to the beans and water to aid in the cooking, and leave in the kombu from the soaking.
  6. Cover the pressure cooker and turn the heat to HIGH.
  7. Once topper is "bouncing" and "loud" begin timing your beans and cook them at this "high pressure setting" as described by your pressure cooker manual. My black beans were expected to cook for about 2-4 minutes. I usually go with the longer time, since I'd rather them be soft, than hard.
  8. Once time on "high pressure" is complete. Remove from the heat and set on another burner that is cool. Now allow beans to cool and pressure to be released gradually.
  9. Once pressure is released, you will hear a click, and the pressure cooker will now be able to be opened.
  10. Open the pressure cooker and drain the beans into the sink. Rinse with water once again.
  11. Now your beans are done. You can cook with them, save them in the fridge for later in the week, or even freeze them in mason jars.

Don't have a pressure cooker?
Here's some tips for cooking on the stove as taken from Whole Foods Market: "Guide to Beans":

"Put beans into a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water or stock. (Don't add salt at this point since that slows the beans' softening.) Slowly bring to a boil, skimming off any foam on the surface. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid if necessary, until beans are tender when mashed or pierced with a fork. Cooking times vary with the variety, age and size of beans; generally you're looking at about 1 to 2 hours."

Here's a guide to help you know how long to cook each type of bean that I found on Vegan Heartland.
Hope this helps you go green with your beans!

Recently this post was linked up over Frugally Sustainable as part of the "Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog Hop." So check it out and find more ways you can go green!

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