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.
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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 bags.
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
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
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 Carolina.
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
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