Beans - dried
known as: turtle beans (black turtle beans), black Spanish
beans, Tampico beans, and Venezuelan beans.
is not the same bean as that used in oriental cuisines.
Fermented black beans etc. are made with black soybeans.)
common bean is thought to have originated in southern
Mexico and Central America over 7,000 years ago. Evidence
of its use has been found in excavations of prehistoric
dwellings. The common bean has since spread widely around
the world and black beans are widely used throughout
Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southern United
States (especially Florida and the Southwest). Black
bean soups, stews and sauces are very common in Latin
American countries. Black beans are becoming more popular
in this country, in part due to increased immigration
from Latin American countries, and the culinary traditions
these immigrants bring with them.
The family Leguminosae (legumes) includes beans, peas,
lentils, peanuts, carob, tamarind and Acacia and many
other trees. Their use as a source of food is second
only to the cereal grains. The common bean Phaseolus
vulgaris (vulgaris is Latin for common) is a member
of this family, and Black beans are one of hundreds
of varieties of the common bean. Black beans are used
dried; originally the drying of beans was a way to ensure
a winter food supply, as beans can be successfully dried
and stored for up to a year, with hardly any fear of
deterioration or damage.
beans are small (about the size of a pea), oval and
jet black. They have cream colored flesh, a mild, sweet,
earthy taste, and a soft texture.
Black beans grow best at temperatures between 65º
and 75ºF. They are a warm season crop, requiring
up to 120 days to reach maturity and dry. The beans
are left on the plants to dry, so humidity and heat
can cause damage to the beans as they are drying on
the plant, and rain can be a problem during the drying
and curing process. They are harvested by machine, and
the plants themselves left as 'green manure'.
Handling & Storage:
beans are commonly packaged in 100 lb bags and 1 lb
should be stored below 70ºF, in airtight containers.
can be stored for up to one year this way.
cup beans = 2 cups cooked.
to 2 lbs of black beans per gallon of water for soup.
Before cooking, be sure to pick through them, picking
out any small pebbles, split and withered beans and
any other foreign matter. [Beans from the Rockies and
Pacific coast tend to have more adobe (bits of clay)
and stones]. It is also helpful to cover the beans with
cold water, let sit for 5 minutes and remove anything
that floats. Repeat to be sure all dirt and foreign
matter is removed. Drain.
Black beans, like all dried beans, need to be soaked
before cooking. This hydration helps to reduce the cooking
time. Because they are small, 2 - 4 hours soaking in
cold water should suffice. Drain, and cook as per recipe.
you don't have the time, boil the beans in water for
1 - 3 minutes, turn off heat, cover the pot and let
them sit for one hour. Drain and proceed as per recipe.
However, there is a problem with this quick soaking
(boiling for 1 - 3 minutes) method. Hot water increases
the solubility of the water soluble nutrients, and softens
the cell membranes of the beans, further accelerating
the loss of these nutrients. This should be a consideration,
because of the long cooking time during which more nutrients
are lost. Cold soaked and cooked at a very gentle simmer,
beans retain most of their nutrients, which are considerable.
cook, drain the soaking water and add cold water, 1
part beans to 2 or 3 parts cold water. Bring to a boil,
then reduce heat to a very slow simmer, so the beans
stay in their jackets. Simmer for 2 hours.
See also flatulence (as this is a family site matters
of a violent nature are not featured!)
All legumes are high in protein, and black beans are
no exception. Dried beans are important sources of protein
in vegetarian diets, and in areas where animal protein
is scarce or expensive. However, this protein is incomplete
(does not contain all 9 amino acids), so grains (which
provide the missing amino acids) must also be a significant
part of the strictly vegetarian diet. Or, small amounts
of dairy products, meat, poultry or fish (which contain
complete proteins) must be part of the diet. In the
areas where common beans originated (Central America
and southern Mexico) corn supplied the missing amino
acids, and squash was an additional source of vitamins.
beans, as all dried beans, are also good sources of
starches, fiber, B vitamins, iron, zinc, phosphorus,
complex carbohydrates and calcium. About half of the
calcium is lost during cooking. High percentages of
the other nutrients remain however, even after cooking.
article is from Chef James Ehler of Key West, Florida.
is a webmaster, cook, chef, writer and (like me) a self-confessed
computer nerd. He is the former executive chef of Martha's
Steak & Seafood Restaurant and the former Reach Hotel
(both in Key West), the Hilton Hotel in Fayetteville,
Arkansas, and the New Bern Golf and Country Club, North
is now webmaster and cook at the Blue Heaven Restaurant
in Key West while he works on his Food Encyclopedia
(five years so far). It is well worth paying a visit
to James' food reference website which is a useful resource
well worth Bookmarking - to visit either website just
click on their title:
Food Reference Website
Blue Heaven Restaurant, Key West, Florida
James T. Ehler, 2001
All rights reserved
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