Beans are a nutritious, versatile and inexpensive staple food with one inconvenient trait. Proper bean preparation makes beans more digestible and alleviates gas.
Following is a summary of all the methods used to break down the sugars in beans, rendering them more digestible and nutritious.
Use black, kidney, pinto, white or any large bean. Small beans such as lentil and pea do not require soaking.
Step 1 - Soak
Sort through 2 cups of beans, removing stones and yucky beans.
Soak the beans in 8 cups water 12 - 24 hours. When foam begins to appear on the top of the beans then the sugars are beginning to break down. If the foam sits too long the beans will begin to ferment, creating an acid that prevents them from cooking well.
Rinse the beans well before cooking.
Simmer the beans for 2-3 hours on a stove top with a heat diffuser or 4-5 hours in a crock pot in 10 cups of water. Usually tap water is fine, but if you live near the Pygmy Forest, like I do, the water is extra acidic. Acidic water will prevent the beans from cooking so I add just a tiny pinch of baking soda. The heat diffuser prevents the beans from burning the bottom of the pot. A crock pot is worry free and economical.
Season the beans after they have cooked thoroughly. Any seasoning during the simmer phase will also cause hard beans.
For 2 cups beans I add lots of spices
1 teaspoon salt
1 2 inch strip kombu seaweed - to help break down sugars
1 tablespoon ground cumin - to improve digestion
1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon paprika, oregano, thyme or any other spices you like for nutrition and flavor.
Add 1 acidic component for flavor and digestion
1 cup tomato sauce or
1 cup orange juice or
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Kombu seaweed, most spices and the addition of an acid after cooking all help the body to digest beans.
Store refrigerated in glass or ceramic. Serve with vegetables and a grain such as wheat, corn or rice to make beans a complete vegetarian protein.
Beans are very high in fiber - for some people this will also cause gas regardless of cooking. Slowly increasing fiber in the diet will improve health and eventually improve your ability to digest fiber.