The transition from canned beans to cooking your own can be a bit daunting - and if beans aren't prepared right, they just don't taste that amazing and are hard to digest. Here is a step-by-step guide, to help you along your way.
Where and how to buy them?
Ideally: Buy them in bulk direct from the farmer, from an organic or biodynamic farm.
Second best option: Go to a grocer/health food store where you can buy them in bulk or fill your own bag. Try to select beans that are grown in your country and are organic or biodynamic.
Third option: If you have to go to the supermarket, try to buy the biggest bag you can, look for an organic option and try to select beans that are grown in your country - not imported.
Why soak beans?
It begins the rehydration process of the beans, makes them easier to digest (stops you farting so much) and breaks down enzyme inhibitors which would otherwise block nutrient absorption. Most importantly though, it means they will cook up extra soft and delicious, which is really all that matters!
Soak them all! Whichever beans or pulses you select, they should all be soaked before you cook them.
1. Fill a vessel (jar, bowl etc) no more than 1 third full with the beans.
2. Add about 3 times more water than beans (i.e. 1 cup beans: 3 cups water).
3. Then add wakame (or other seaweed) and a teaspoon or so of sea salt - this helps the beans to soften and helps you to digest them. The seaweed isn't absolutely necessary but is said to help nutrient absorption. The salt is a must.
4. Soak overnight.
5. If you don't get to cooking them the next day, change the water and they should be ok for another day.
Cooking the beans
1. Drain the beans and seaweed and wash under cold water briefly, discarding the soak water.
2. Place in a pot and cover with water so there is about 2 cms of water above the beans.
3. Bring pot to the boil and then leave on a slow simmer for 2-4 hours depending on the bean, or until tender. Note: If you overcook they will fall apart and can become "gluggy".
4. A foam will form on the top of the beans at the beginning of cooking, scoop this off - it's where all the farts stem from.
5. If there is remaining water in the pot when beans are ready either strain or leave in their 'soup' to serve. That liquid makes a delicious stock base. Season liberally with sea salt (again, this helps digestion) and serve warm or store in the fridge for later.
You can cook beans in sauces, in soups, stews etc - just be careful that the environment is not acidic i.e. contains lemon juice, whey, tomatoes or vinegar, as the beans will not cook in a high acid environment.