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Also known as
Black Spanish Beans, Common beans, Tampico beans, Venezuelan beans, turtle beans.
Black beans could not be more succinctly or descriptively named. They are just what they say they are, beans that are black. They are commonly referred to as turtle beans, probably in reference to their shiny, dark, shell-like appearance. Along with a rich smoky flavor that has been compared to mushrooms, black beans have a velvety texture, yet hold their shape well during cooking.
Boiled black beans
To cook the beans, you can either cook them on the stovetop or use a pressure cooker. For the stovetop method, add three cups of fresh water or broth for each cup of dried beans. The liquid should be about one to two inches above the top of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covering the pot. If any foam develops, you can skim it off during the simmering process. Black beans generally take about one hour to become tender using this method. They can also be cooked in a pressure cooker where they take about half hour to prepare. Regardless of cooking method, do not add any seasonings that are salty or acidic until after the beans have been cooked since adding them earlier will make the beans tough and greatly increase the cooking time.
Soaked black beans
To shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest, black beans should be presoaked (presoaking has been found to reduce the raffinose-type oligosaccharides, sugars associated with causing flatulence.) There are two basic methods for presoaking. For each you should start by placing the beans in a saucepan and adding two to three cups of water per cup of beans. The first method is to boil the beans for two minutes, take the pan off the heat, cover and allow to stand for two hours. The alternative method is to simply soak the beans in water for eight hours or overnight, placing the pan in the refrigerator so that the beans will not ferment. Before cooking the beans, regardless of method, drain the soaking liquid and rinse the beans with clean water.
How to select
Dried black beans are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the black beans are covered and that the store has a good product turnover to ensure the beans' maximal freshness. Whether purchasing black beans in bulk or in packaged containers, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.
· Include black beans with your other favorite toppings next time you make a stuffed baked potato.
· Black bean soup or chili is certain to warm you up on cold winter days or anytime of the year you want to enjoy its nurturing essence.
· For a "mucho bueno" twist on traditional burritos, use black beans in place of refried pinto beans.
· Blend cooked black beans with tomatoes, onions and your favorite spices to create a delicious bean soup.
· For a simple yet delicious lunch or dinner entrée, serve a Cuban inspired meal of black beans and rice.
· In a serving bowl, layer black beans, guacamole, chopped tomatoes, diced onions and cilantro to make a delicious layered dip.
How to store
Store dried black beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep up to 12 months. If you purchase black beans at different times, store them separately since they may feature varying stages of dryness and therefore will require different cooking times. Cooked black beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.
· Black beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other legumes.
· In addition to lowering cholesterol, black beans' high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia.
· When combined with whole grains such as brown rice, black beans provide virtually fat-free high quality protein.
· Black beans are an excellent source of calcium, iron,the trace mineral, molybdenum and folic acid.
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