In Egypt they are thinking about bread; very important to the Egyptian people. Food shortages will be at the root of much of the turmoil we are seeing and will see in days ahead. And if this crisis messes up the Suez Canal, our oil supply could be cut dramatically. Even a ten percent reduction could bring business and transportation to a halt. Which makes me think about beans.
A strange thing to think about, granted. However, beans are a wonderful source of protein. Even though I am a vegetarian, they have never been a favorite food of mine. Realistically, I know that in hard times, beans will be an important source of nutrition. I need to come to terms with beans. Reading Carol Deppe’s The Resilient Gardener (which I have blogged about here and here), I have reached the conclusion that I haven’t been thinking about beans properly. I’m talking about dry beans: garbonzos, pintos, etc. that one can store, eat during the winter months and use for seed the following season.
For most beans (lentils, cowpeas and peas excepted) Ms Deppe has a fairly involved soaking routine which she claims is most important. First she soaks the beans in cold water for a half hour to hydrate the skins. She pours this off and refills the pot with cold water and some boiling water to make it lukewarm, a couple gallons to a couple quarts of beans. She is now soaking the beans in the same way she would if she were going to germinate them. She stirs them once in awhile to equalize the oxygen. Every four or five hours she drains and refills the pot with fresh water for a total soaking time of around twelve hours (some varieties like fava, garbonzo or runner beans can take 36 hours to soak). The beans are ready to cook (or plant) when they are fully plumped out.
At this point she pours off the water, rinses them and covers them with two inches of fresh water, adds a pinch of salt, favorite seasonings and some vegetable oil to keep the beans from foaming and boiling over. After the beans become soft she adds some fat and salt (or tamari). Her final trick is something acidic. Lime or lemon juice for the bowl or vinegar for the pot.
She further claims that our digestive system will adjust to eating beans if we eat them regularly, that not eating beans is what causes stomach distress when we occasionally eat them.
There’s much, much more information on beans in The Resilient Gardener. I’m inspired to grow some dry beans this year which will help extend the eating season from the garden. In her book she recommends specific varieties.