Beans get a pretty bad rep sometimes for the gas and gastrointestinal pain that they can cause. They have complex sugars present, called oligosaccharides, which are very hard for the human body to digest. Instead of being digested in the normal fashion, beans can make it all the way to the large intestine before they are digested and the bacteria there have to do the work. This produces the gas.
One way to help break down these sugars a little earlier is through sprouting. Sprouting breaks down some of the oligosaccharides, some of the fat content, and changes some of the denser proteins into more easily usable amino acids. The sprouting process also makes it easier to digest certain nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper.
Sprouting is super easy and fun! Just follow this step-by-step process:
Purchase dry beans, preferably in bulk so you can see the beans you are purchasing. Look for beans that appear mostly whole. Broken beans will not sprout. Depending on how many you want to make, buying in bulk allows you to purchase the exact amount you need. Fresher dry beans will sprout more easily.
Generally, 1 cup of dry beans will yield 2-1/2 to 3 cups of cooked beans.
Rinse and sort the beans. Put the dry beans in a strainer and rinse with cool water. Begin discarding the broken beans and any other matter that might be present.
These are the beans to discard:
Soak the beans. Put your beans in a pot that will allow for expansion. I like to use iron cookware, as it will add a little iron to your food. Some of the broken beans will float to the top. Scoop out and discard. Soak overnight or at least 8 hours.
In the morning, strain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Leave in the strainer and place on top of a plate. Cover with a dish towel and leave to sprout in a warm, but not sunny place. I just use the kitchen counter. *Important: every time you walk by, give the strainer a little shake (several times per day). This allows air to get between the beans so they don’t stick together and rot.
Look for the sprouts. Depending on the beans, sprouting will take 1-3 days. Keep shaking the strainer!
Cook the beans. I like to cook mine in water in the crock pot on low all day. You can also use the stove top if you are around to monitor. Cook to your desire consistency. If you use water, they will keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks. You can use broth of any kind for more flavor, but I find they go bad much faster.
Use in your cooking. I like beans with eggs, rice, meats, and on their own. Here, I have added onions and peppers for a colorful addition to Mexican food.
So, there you go. Beans don’t have to be the magical fruit!
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