Here are a few tips for cooking dried beans that are easier to digest (=less gas!).
1. Soak beans overnight or 8+ hours. Yes, you'll have to plan ahead for this one. Cook extras and freeze the rest, so next time all you have to do is thaw! :)
2. Soak beans in plenty of water. At least 10 cups of water per pound of beans is recommended. If it's not too much bother, you can also change the soaking water during the soak. I wouldn't set my alarm clock to do this in the middle of the night though. ;)
3. Cook beans in plenty of water. Use a large pot, and try to keep the water level at least double the level of the soaked beans.
4. Cook beans slowly. Resist the temptation to turn the heat on HIGH! I usually bring my beans to a boil at medium heat and then cook on low (just enough heat to simmer) until tender.
5. Cook beans long enough. I find that a lot of the estimates aren't long enough for my climate/beans. Throw out the book -- just cook until tender!
If the skins start falling off, that's okay. Keep going. Your tender, easily digested beans might not look picture perfect. Mine are usually falling apart a little by the time they're completely soft. You can keep the stirring to a minimum, though, to avoid unnecessary mush. ;)
6. Wait until beans are fully cooked before adding sweet or acidic ingredients to them. Tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, molasses, and lemon juice will prevent your beans from cooking and becoming soft and tender and easy to digest. :)
7. Don't use old beans, or beans that haven't been stored properly (away from heat and light and air). They won't cook up right no matter how long you cook them!
8. I don't usually do this one since it seems rather wasteful (in energy) to me, but another way to de-gas your dried beans is to discard the cooking water half-way through and start again with fresh water for the rest of the cooking.
More reading on the topic of beans:
My mom's chili, our staple all-purpose chili recipe :)
Crystal has a week-long bean-focused menu on her blog :)
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