3 Jul 2009

July is Baked Bean Month!

Hoping my Canadian readers had a great Canada Day and that my U.S. readers will have a terrific Independence Day tomorrow :)

This month is National Baked Bean Month in the U.S.A. Where would we be without baked beans? Beans, part of the legume/pulse family, have been cultivated for thousands and thousands of years, and in these tough times they should be very popular, being such an inexpensive and nutritionally complete staple food.

All varieties of beans are rich sources of protein. They are high in dietary fibre and other nutrients. The approximate daily values on a 2000 cal diet, depending on the variety of bean, of half a cup of beans are as follows: folic acid/folate-36%, dietary fibre-30%, manganese-23%, protein-15%, magnesium-12%, iron-11%, thiamine-11%, copper-10%, potassium-10%, selenium-8%, carbohydrates-8% and varied amounts of amino's like lysine. Half a cup of beans is approx 100 calories. Note that the iron they provide is non-haem iron, which is not easily absorbed by the body unless served with a vitamin C rich drink or fruit like a glass of citrus juice or freshly made tomato salad/juice.

Beans are very healthy for you. In the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005, scientists recommend that adults consume three cups of beans per week to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Due to their high fibre content, studies have proved that beans are able to prevent diabetes and help lower LDL-cholesterol and so also protect us against cardiovascular disease. The insoluble fibre also helps to keep us regular and reduce the risk of constipation. The folic acid (folate) in beans makes them an excellent protein source for pregnant women. They also have a low glycemic index, so keep you from feeling hungry between meals.

Beans compliment cereals as beans are a rich source in lysine, but a poor source of methionine. Cereal grains are a poor source of lysine, but high in methionine and other sulphur amino acids. Therefore when beans and grains are served together in dishes like beans and rice, or tortillas and refried beans, they provide a complimentary protein profile.

Some people tend to stay away from beans and other legumes because they can cause discomfit due to intestinal gas. This need not be so as there are various aids like Beano, charcoal tabs and Vegan digestive enzymes, that can be taken with the mean and prevent this discomfort. Sometimes it is just the cooking method that needs to be looked at, like changing the water a few times while boiling or adding the sea vegetable kombu, cumin, fennel or ginger which have all been found to be especially effective in preventing the formation of gas when eating any legume or other high fiber foodstuff. Once beans are eaten regularly this problem also disappears in many people.

Storage of dry beans is easy as they keep for up to a year in an airtight container in a cool, dark, dry place. Canned beans can be stored up to 5 years in a cool area out of the sunlight. Always sort and rinse dried beans carefully before use as they may include small stones, fibres, or discoloured beans.

Getting back to baked beans. If you are unable to get tinned baked beans that are organic, low salt, low sugar, vegan and without additives like MSG, then it is far better to make your own homemade baked beans either with normal tinned beans that are suitable or organic dried beans. You will then be in full control of what you put in the sauce and how it tastes. Preparing the dried beans by soaking them overnight in water is said to be the best way and certainly better than trying to boil them up to quicken the process. In Summer, when hot at night, it is best to put the soaking beans in the fridge to prevent them fermenting.

Once soaked the easiest to cook them is in a pressure cooker or slow cooker, depending on how much time you have available. 1/2 cup raw beans equals approximately 1 1/2 cups cooked. Note that when cooking beans do not add salt or acidic ingredients like wine, vinegar or tomatoes as it will inhibit absorption of water and make the beans tough. Do not add baking soda or bicarb to beans at any time. Baking soda robs the beans of the B-vitamin thiamin and may affect the flavour of the cooked beans.Wait until fully cooked until doing so. Also, to prevent the beans getting mushy, always shake the pot and not stir towards the end of cooking. Cooked beans keep 4 to 5 days in the fridge and can also be frozen.

There are many other ways to use beans. Mix with rice, scatter on top of salads, add to pitas and tortillas, in spread and dips and even added to cookie recipes. Beans also make wonderful, highly nutritious sprouts.


Fruity Baked Beans
For a tasty twist, add apples or pineapple to your baked beans. Fruit is a natural sweetener that adds flavor and nutrition to your dish.

Brandied Beans
Pour 2 - 15oz/425gms cans of baked beans into a 1 1/2 quart/1 1/2 litre casserole. Top with 1 16oz/454gms can of peach haves, studded with cloves. Pour ¼ cup brandy over peaches. Bake at 350F/175C for 30 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Baked Beans 1
From Recipe Tips
Although this excellent baked bean dish requires quite a bit of time (several hours for soaking the beans and for baking), the effort is minimal and the result is worth the wait.

1lb / 450gms dried beans
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped or coarsely grated
2 celery stalks, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, minced (optional)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp black pepper, preferably freshly ground
salt, to taste

Sort and rinse beans. Put in 4 quart/ 4 litre Dutch oven or heavy pot with lid. Cover with 2 quarts / 2 litres water, bring to a boil, and cook 2 minutes. Skim off any foam, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. (Or, cover beans with 2 quarts water and let stand 8 hours or overnight, refrigerated.) Preheat oven to 300F/150C. Add all remaining ingredients, except salt, to beans and their soaking water (I prefer fresh water ~ Jackie). Stir well, cover, and bake for about 2 hours. Remove cover and continue baking until beans are tender, about 1 additional hour. (Or, simmer on stovetop, lid ajar, until beans are tender, about 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure they aren't dry--add more water if necessary.) Taste for seasoning, add salt to taste.
TIP: Allow plenty of time--older beans take longer. Serving 8 x 1 cup.

Baked Beans 2
From Recipe ZAAR
"This is a less-sweet baked beans recipe that's better the second day. I really like the different flavour of this one. Although the recipe says to cover while cooking, I left it uncovered since it seemed juicier than I wanted. This was no problem and it did work to thicken them up. From Eden Organic Foods." ~by Vino Girl

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 15oz/425gms can (or 2 cups cooked) great northern beans/large white beans, do not drain
1/2 cup tomato, crushed (canned or fresh)
2 tbsps pure maple syrup or barley malt syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp mustard

Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Heat oil; sauté onions and garlic. Mix all ingredients together and place in a casserole dish. Cover and bake for 25-30 minutes. Serves 5.

Baked Beans 3
From the Vegetarian Times
Baked beans were meant to be doctored up to suit a cook’s taste, so feel free to make these with more or less sugar, a spicier salsa or mustard, and add-ins such as soy sausage or soy hot dogs.

1½ cups dried red kidney beans
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (3 cups)
1 8-oz/227gms jar medium salsa
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
3 tbsps yellow mustard

Soak beans in 6 cups water overnight. Drain; reserve soaking liquid. Coat Dutch oven with cooking spray, and heat over low heat. Add onions, cover, and cook 15 minutes, or until browned. Stir in 1 cup soaking liquid. Simmer 5 minutes, scraping up onion bits stuck to pot. Stir in remaining ingredients and 5 cups water. Cover, and cook 1½ hours. Uncover; simmer 1 hour more, or until sauce has thickened. Serves 8.

Baked Beans 4

1 1/2 cups navy beans soaked
3 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 onion, sliced
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsps molasses
1 tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Drain soaked beans. Combine with water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until tender, about 2 hours. Drain. Add remaining ingredients and combine in a baking dish, stirring well. Cover tightly and bake at 350F/175C for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 30 minutes more.


Fat Bastard said...

Vegetables are what food eats.

Marion said...

Baked beans...the kind that bake in the oven for hours...are one of my favourite dishes. I like them added to salads and soups, as well. Is there any way to tell if the bean is old, as I well remember the time I cooked beans for hours and they still would not get tender.

Timely post, Jackie!

Jackie said...

Thanks for visiting Fat and Marion.

Hard to tell if beans too old as some over 6000 years were found and sprouted but whether they would have got soft with boiling I wouldn't know LOL.

I buy organic beans that are packeted and have expiry dates and not those in bins (rare here anyway) so I have some idea how they will cook up.

Mihl said...

Although I try to eat beans every day I've never made baked beans. Must make them soon. As usual you provide great info.

Mike Foster said...

As a vegetarian, I eat a lot of beans. This recipe looks awesome.


Farty Girl said...

My favorite beans are in corn tortillas with melted trader joe's cheddar slices. The perfect vegan gluten free cheese burrito.

Emmental said...

I'm neither a vegan nor a vegetarian, but I'm all for the support of baked bean consumption! (I knew I was right...)

Leebeesa said...

Wow what a wonderful find your blog is. I am a new vegetarian hoping to go vegan in a few months time, so I'll check back regularly. Can I add you to my blog role on my blog, please?

Prime said...

I admire you vegetarians. I tried to be vegetarianism, but I only lasted two weeks. I got weak and lethargic. Some folks just can't operate smoothly without meat.

Anonymous said...

Recipe 1 isn't completely Vegan.
Worcestershire sauce is made from anchovies (fish).
Great Recipes otherwise, thanks!

Jackie said...

"Worcestershire sauce is made from anchovies".

Years ago this was true but I have found most brands no longer do so these days.

Ana Roux said...

Just leaving you a note for saying what a wonderful and rich information you are sharing here! I'm vegan too and since then I’ve never once questioned the wisdom of becoming a vegetarian, and my health has remained stellar since I did. said...

Thanks for the great recipes!

Erin said...

About the Worcestershire sauce, I've actually found that most bottles I find in the supermarket do have fish. However, I live in the US, so differences are to be expected. I know they do sell vegan versions, though.

I'm also really excited to try this recipe, my dad heated up a can of baked beans today and as gross as it was, my mouth watered a little, haha.