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Monday, August 26, 2013

Gas-less Beans

Origin of FART

Middle English ferten, farten; 
akin to Old High Germanferzan to break wind, 
Old Norse freta, Greek perdesthai,
Sanskrit pardate he breaks wind
First Known Use: 13th century

As many of you who have followed this blog know,
originally it was a blog about simple living.
Then, as my MCS and my love for the Camino
 took me back to Spain again and again,
it transformed into a blog ABOUT the Camino.

But I'd like to try to get back to my original idea,
which was to give people information that would help them in a tight economy.

Today I want to talk about how you can lessen the effect of GAS when you're cooking beans.
Beans and seeds are an easy food to store in case of emergency.
You can put them in glass or plastic containers,
and until you add moisture,
they'll pretty much hold their food value.
I have a variety of beans and seeds in my storage,
including garbanzos, pintos, white beans,
black beans, mung beans,
and lentils.

But beans have one problem.
They cause gas for many people.
Most of you over 50 will remember this jumprope song.

Beans, Beans!
The musical fruit!
The more you eat,
the more you toot!
The more you toot,
the better you feel!

So let's have beans
for every meal!

Those who don't remember the song
will remember how funny a fart can be to a child.

It's universal humor.

But WHY do beans make us "toot" and is there anything we can do about it?
Let's talk about botany and biology.

What a Bean or Seed Wants

A bean or a seed has one purpose.
It wants to travel and sprout.

To travel, it has made itself attractive to birds and animals;
they want to EAT it!

And then to sprout it needs moisture and fertilizer.
So it needs to make it all the way through some pretty tough digestive systems,
and come out the other end in a nice warm pile of poop!

That's just the embarrassing truth.

In order to survive its journey through the digestive system,
it has developed a defense system; 
a very tough coat, called a "seed coat."

The seed coat is the (usually) colored part of the seed you see.
Black beans have black seed coats.
Kidney beans have reddish seed coats.
Garbanzo beans have cream or yellow colored coats.

This coat protects the seed for 24-48 hours while it travels through a digestive system.
It does not WANT to be digested.
It wants to survive the journey,
so it stays buttoned up for the general time it takes
for it to pass through the host's digestive system.

After that time, it begins to soften and split open,
allowing moisture to reach the seed itself,
and promote sprouting.

Your Body

Your body, on the other hand,
has developed a way to know 
when certain foods are not being digested.
It's called "gas!"

Things you eat are broken down by enzymes, 
stomach acids, and intestinal bacteria 
in order for the energy in them to be made available to the body. 
Through the processes of digestion and fermentation, 
gases can be liberated from what's eaten.

When a food sits in your gut 
and is not being broken down fast enough 
for your body to extract the nutrients,
you develop more gas, and more gas, 
and that gas has to go somewhere!

So you fart!

So that tough little seed coat stays hard for 24-48 hours,
and while your body is working on digesting it, 
begins to ferment. 

And as anyone who has made beer knows, 
fermentation means gas bubbles. 
Soon, your gut gets so full of gas,
there's no place for it to go 
except OUT!

The gases that make up a fart 
are composed mostly of hydrogen, carbon dioxide, and methane. 
Farts smell obnoxious 
because of the breakdown of compounds containing sulfur
(think rotten eggs). 

Some foods, such as cabbage, eggs, onions, and meat, 
contain more sulfur than others,
which is why some farts smell worse than other farts. 

Vegetarian farts are much less obnoxious than the farts of meat eaters. 
It's just a fact. 

Human + Bean/Seed = Farts

And so, this is why when you eat beans, you get gas.

But there is a way to make the beans LESS gaseous.
And that is to break the seed coat and begin the sprouting process.
Once beans have sprouted, they no longer ferment in the gut.
Instead, they are digested.
Not only do you get less gas, 
your body is more able to extract the nutrients it needs for health.

So... here's the way to cook gass-less beans:

Cover the beans or seeds with cold water.
Use plenty of water - twice the amount of beans.
In a 24 hour period, change the water at least twice.
The more you change the water, 
the faster the seed coat dissolves.
I'm not sure why, but it just works this way.

You can keep these beans/seeds in the fridge or on the counter.
It doesn't matter as long as you change the water.
Keep this up until you see the seed coats splitting and floating on the top.
This could be anywhere from 24 to 48 hours.

I couldn't find a photo showing this,
but you'll see it.
The coats just split and slide off the beans, 
and they will start floating on top of the water.

Now you can cook the beans,
OR you can allow them to sprout 
for even more nutrients.
You can skim off the seed coats if you want,
or just leave them.
It's really a matter of preference at this point.
They are now soft enough to digest.

If you want to gain even more food value
from your beans, 
sprout them a bit.
Once the seed coats begin to fall off,
strain the water off, but keep the beans in a colander
for another day.

During this day, rinse OFTEN - at least 3 to 4 times.
This will keep the beans from fermenting 
and will encourage sprouting.

Once you see tiny sprouts, usually after 6-10 hours,
the sprouted beans are ready to cook.
Mung bean sprouts.
You don't have to see the sprouts.
Once the bean coats split, they're ready to cook.
Mung bean sprouts can be eaten raw.
Always use fresh water to cook your beans.
Don't use the soaking water.

And that's it!
Fartless beans.
Your friends and family will thank you!

If you have small children in the house, 
there may be less laughter.



  1. Good stuff, probably changing the water more is due to osmosis (there being less diffusion as original water gets saturated with nutrients)

  2. Thankyou so much! I have celiac disease and am staying in mexico on a budget. This page is really a life saver :) gracias!

  3. Great article. Enjoyed the humor and the info. It sure makes sense to wait a few hours more and get more nutrients out of the beans. I used to eat beans once a week, but, because I had cancer, I'm now a vegan and am eating them almost every day. So I really thank you.


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