Our Co-op does a great job training its new employees to be good sources of information for their customers. I discovered this many years ago when I got a job there. Many of the things taught during the training I already knew, but one piece of information really stuck out. Apparently, cooking dried beans with a bit of seaweed helps beans become more digestible. Essentially, kombu gets the toots out.
Let’s be honest…even as adults, we still think of beans as the magical fruit. It is for good reason, though. Man, some people do NOT handle beans well. We find in our house that some people handle beans better than others (I am not naming names…but let’s just say that sardines and beans don’t mix on Sundays here). That really is a shame, because beans are a great inexpensive plant-based food, for those who go for that sort of thing. But dealing with the beany repercussion can be a deal breaker for some.
Well, the seaweed kombu helps eliminate nasty bean side-effects. Besides having its own health benefits, kombu has enzymes that help break down gas-producing sugars in beans, which ALSO helps make the nutrients in beans easier to absorb. A trifecta of greatness!
There are many descriptions around of how to use kombu, so there probably is not a wrong way. What we do is put a thumb-sized chunk of kombu in with your dried beans when they cook. And that is it. Easy, right?
We also keep the cooked kombu in whatever bean dish we are making. It imparts a bit of flavor along with its health benefits. In fact, to make it fun, the person who gets the kombu in their serving proclaims “I win!”. Also, we are easily amused.
Also, another little bean making trick I use is to cook dried beans in a pressure cooker. Just about everyone has one of these to at least borrow now, right? You can cook your dried beans in the pressure cooker WITHOUT SOAKING THEM FIRST. There. Now I have taken away both excuses about using dried beans – kombu takes away the toots, and pressure cookers take away the long cooking time. Beans are now inexpensive, quick and digestible…speaking from experience.