I got some comments about asafoetida’s anti-flatulent properties, so I thought it would be useful to list other natural ways to increase the digestability of beans.
First – and most important – is proper soaking. We already know this, though, right? I actually learned about this from my mom who does this every time she makes beans, and she probably learned it from my grandma who also did it. I can’t say that my family is all about traditional food preparation, but this has always been a non-negotiable. The quick soak isn’t, in my opinion, worthwhile, because a long soak (preferably 24 hours, at least 12) is gentler on the beans, preserves more nutrients, and gives the finished product the best texture. In a pinch, I’d rather use canned beans (though not as economical and the lining of the can has BPA if they’re not Eden Organic brand). I should probably get over this all-or-nothing mentality and just opt for the quick soak when it’s needed, though. J
In addition to asafoetida, there are other herbs that aid in the digestion of beans. Some of the more common ones are savory, turmeric, and ginger. Less common is epazote, which is used in southwestern cooking. I’ve never used epazote, but my favorite vegetarian chef, Deborah Madison, is a big fan. I finally found it at my local Whole Foods (after several months of searching!), but I haven’t had room in the food budget lately for a new herb. Kombu (dried seaweed) is used as a digestive aid in Japanese cooking, but I’ve never tried that, either. Perhaps with some adzuki beans, though?
Fermenting the beans with some vinegar, lemon juice, or whey also helps break down some of the gas-producing sugars. Even better, letting them sprout will increase their nutrition while further breaking down the complex sugars. Not all beans are
I’ve heard people say that the more often you eat beans, the more your body becomes accustomed to them, thus reducing any indigestion that may occur. I’m not sure how true this is, though, because Husband eats all the bean meals that I eat and still has trouble digesting them. I don’t always add herbs that will neutralize that effect, and I usually have no problems. So I guess we’re all just different?
How do you improve the digestability of your beans?