Sunday, January 15, 2012

Brazilian Black Beans

When I was in San Francisco I picked up a bag of Rancho Gordo black beans at the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market. I wondered what the difference was between store bought black beans, Northwest farmers' market turtle beans and Rancho Gordo Midnight beans.

First I'll address the grocery store black bean experience in one word. Gas. Sure these bargain beans are easier on your budget but don't be fooled by low prices, these beans are old. To cook them, you should soak them overnight, pour the water off and cook with a strip of kombu, a sea vegetable, for easier digestion. Even then you may experience gas. Also cheap dry black beans don't have much flavor. Still I have to admit, these bagged beans are inexpensive protein source and maybe it's good to have a back-up bag in your pantry. But be sure to eat these beans within a year, because old beans are no good for your digestive system.

Check around; prices at the market vary with type of beans and farm growing them. From blogs I've read, it costs around $4. to grow a pound of beans in the Northwest, so be prepared for higher prices for this year's crop at the farmers' market.

Rancho Gordo Midnight beans actually taste different from Turtle beans. More firm to the tooth, yet with a soft sweetish creamy interior than the black turtle beans. The flavor was definitely worth paying farmers' market prices. I'm putting Midnight beans on my "must have" list.

If you're intrigued, you can order Midnight beans from Rancho Gordo. Rancho Gordo beans, grains and popcorn also make great gifts for the foodie on your gift list. If your Cooking Assistant doesn't spot them first, that is.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup
(Serves 4)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shallots or onions, chopped
8 to 10 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 carrot, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup dried, soaked overnight and drained dry black beans
2 cups water
1 6-inch piece of kombu (cut into tiny pieces)
10 sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 orange, juice and zest
Pinch of cayenne (or to taste)
Sea salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Heat oil over medium heat in the bottom of a pressure cooker. Add shallots or onions, stir and cook until lightly browned. Stir in garlic and cook until caramelized and fragrant. Add carrot, sweet potato, cumin, black beans, water and sundried tomatoes.

2. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Turn heat to high; when the button pops up start timing for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove pot from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally. Taste to be sure the beans are cooked, then add about a tablespoon of orange zest and orange juice. Add cayenne and sea salt to taste.

3. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with warm corn tortillas.


Joan said...

I didn't know dry beans have a shelf life that affects the digestion. Good to know!!

Are you saying the Rancho Gordo beans are less gassy because they are fresher? I just always eat my beans with some rice in the meal and that takes care of the problem...that or beano if I don't have rice on hand!

Great info!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Joan. If the beans are from this year's harvest then they seem to be easier to tenderize and cook and I've always had less digestive disturbances. Soaking them longer, pouring the soaking water off and kombu help with older beans. Beano is aways good to have on hand, too.

Debbie @ Easy Natural Food said...

Interesting, I love beans but I've been steering clear of them because I don't digest them well. But I usually buy bulk bin beans from the grocery store - probably the very worst kind! Maybe I need to look out for some better quality ones, because this soup looks really good! Thanks for sharing this with Sunday Night Soup Night, and I'm glad you're still making soup!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks Debbie. True confession, I quickly made this soup to make your Sunday link up. Trouble digesting beans is pretty common--eating a few beans each day (to develop a "Mexican" stomach), soaking and pouring the soaking water off and cooking with Kombu, a sea vegetable are my best suggestions. A cooking assistant for one of my classes once told me she grew up in the South where they cooked beans slowly all day--that was her secret for reducing gas.