I love beans, especially pinto beans, and home cooked beans are absolutely the best! In fact, if you have only eaten canned or commercially cooked beans in the past, you are in for a real treat if you try these beans! In addition to being delicious, they are very filling and satisfying. I find that I don’t get hungry as quickly after eating beans.
The recipe below may seem time-consuming, but during most of those hours you don’t need to do anything. The beans are just sitting in the pot either soaking or cooking for the most of the time required. You must remember to start the soaking the day before you want to eat the beans, but, otherwise, all you have to do is put the pot on and go do whatever else you need to do.
Recipe Moderator Note: In Nourishing Traditions, the instructions are to use 2 Tablespoons of whey, or lemon juice for 2 cups of black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas or white beans. You’d cover the beans with warm water. Stir in whey or lemon juice and lean it in a warm place for 12-14 hours, depending on the size of the bans.
- 1 pound of organic dry pinto beans (this batch was Whole Foods organic dry pintos)
- 1 ham hock, preferably from pastured pigs (you can substitute bacon or a meaty ham bone)
- 1 organic onion, chopped, optional
- 1 strip of dried kombu, optional
- 2 to 4 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed, optional
- Sea salt and freshly ground organic black pepper, to taste
Pick over (remove stones and other foreign material) and rinse well.
Put beans in a large pot (at least 4 quart) and cover with filtered water by at least two inches. Cover and let soak for 12 to 24 hours. These beans soaked for about 21 hours. Check the beans occasionally and add more water if necessary to keep the beans well covered. Nourishing Traditions recommends using warm water. I either start with water that’s been warmed or I just put the pot on a burner turned on low for two or three minutes.
After 12 to 24 hours, drain and rinse the beans. Put them back in the rinsed pot (or another pot) and add filtered water to cover by at least an inch. Add ham hock, bacon, or ham bone, and other optional ingredients (see photo). Bring to a boil and skim any foam that forms on top. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 4 to 8 hours. I cooked these beans for about six hours. I didn’t add kombu to this pot of beans, but I often do. It should increase digestibility and reduce gas formation. Season to taste with salt and pepper toward the end of the cooking time (see photo).
I always make a large pot of beans and freeze some for later use, but you can reduce the amounts in the recipe if you don’t need that many beans.
There are many super good ways to use home cooked pinto beans. One of the simplest preps for a quick lunch or dinner is to top a bowl of hot beans with shredded sharp cheddar cheese (raw cheese if available) and jalapeno slices (see photo). Sometimes I add some chopped tomato as I did in this photo.
Leftover pinto beans are wonderful when mashed and refried with lard, goose fat, or other healthy fat. I made refried beans for my Grassfed Beef Tostadas with Guacamole. I usually season refried beans with some chili powder.
This recipe is based on the Basic Beans recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morell.
Nutrients in Legumes
The legume family includes beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, and soybeans [more on soybeans later]. They “are excellent sources of [plant] protein, low-glycemic index carbohydrates, essential micronutrients, and fiber.” [source]
According to Sally Fallon Morrell in Nourishing Traditions, legumes and pulses are a traditional food that have “nourished mankind for centuries.” They have been the “poor man’s meat.” When properly cooked at home, they are an excellent and low-cost source of many essential nutrients. (Here’s a handy, printable chart of the nutrients in legumes. For more detailed information about specific legumes, use the USDA’s Nutrient Database.)
Legumes are rich in minerals and B vitamins. The pinto beans–one of my favorite beans–in this recipe are a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. They also contain smaller amounts of several other important minerals–iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and selenium. Pinto beans are a very good source of folate, a member of the B vitamin family,. Another bonus–both pinto and kidney beans are high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Legumes and Cancer Prevention
Although limited, research has indicated that legumes can reduce the risk for some cancers. [2009 study]
The American Institute for Cancer Research says
Foods containing folate help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer probably because of folate’s role in healthy cell division and repair of damaged cells.
Legumes contain other health-promoting substances that may also protect against cancer:
- Lignans and saponins
- Resistant starch, starch not digested in the small intestine, is used by healthful bacteria in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids, which seem to protect colon cells.
- Antioxidants from a variety of phytochemicals, including triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, protease inhibitors and sterols. [source]
Some people avoid beans and other legumes because of their phytic acid content and enzyme inhibitors; however, careful, traditional preparation can neutralize the anti-nutrients and break down the complex sugars making the beans more digestible. [Nourishing Traditions, Legumes]
Soybeans are an exception to the traditional preparation I use for my pintos. Soybeans are very high in phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that are not deactivated by soaking and ordinary cooking. To be safe, soybeans should only be eaten after they have been fermented according to traditional Asian methods that produce products like miso, tempeh, and natto. Unless fermented, soybeans can “produce serious gastric distress, reduced protein digestion and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake.” For this reason, soy milk and most other soy products like tofu, soy proteins, and some soy sauces should be avoided. [ Nourishing Traditions, Legumes]🖨️ Print post
Many people soak and sprout. Do you find any added benefit to the sprouting?
Carolyn Biggerstaff says
The Nourishing Traditions Basic Beans recipe, which is the basis for this one, does not call for sprouting the beans. I have not tried sprouting the beans. Sprouting may have additional benefits.
This entire subject is aggravating and has turned me away from legumes. It seems to me that Nourishing Traditions, with regards to legumes, has caused more problems than it has solved. I don’t know if there has been a revision, but it seems contradictory and nobody seems to mind the contradictions! I have not seen WAPF correct this, as of yet. It seems to me that NT is saying that Black beans, Lentils, and Chickpeas require an acid medium. Pinto/Black-eyed Peas/Northern beans/Kidney beans/Cannellini all are to be soaked with a pinch of baking soda. Monica of SimplyBeingWell.com seems to have it at least mostly correct and I think she claims to have run her Preparing Whole Grains and Legumes poster by Sally Fallon Morell before publishing and selling it.
Sarah Pope, The Healthy Home Economist, mentioned Navy Beans as being a kidney-shaped bean and yet she seems to classify it with the Non-kidney shaped beans which require an acid medium for soaking. Contradiction? So, I gave up navy beans because the info makes no sense to me. Others say navy beans are a white bean so they automatically fit with the other white beans under the kidney-shaped beans category which is the baking soda soak category. Frustrating! Monica’s poster places Navy beans in the baking soda category (Kidney-Shaped bean category). Monica and Sarah ought to have a conversation together and it would be nice if Sally would make a public statement dated after June 2022 to put a current revised statement so we know where they stand on the issue. There is similar controversy with the Split Peas so I’m giving those up, as well. Does anyone really know? I realize that science and information is ever-evolving, but can someone direct me to the most current and complete information regarding the soaking of legumes?
Now I’m reading this on the internet by a person who wrote it in 2006 claiming that Sally has changed her position on these matters, but I have no way of knowing whether Sally has updated anything and if she has, does the person relaying the info below in her comment understand it well enough to relay the info accurately? Here is the comment I found that was written in 2006:
I just got home from attending a wonderful open house at Three Stone
Hearth in Berkeley, CA. It was very informative and we got to taste
a bunch of traditional foods that they are making & selling.
Anyway, the most important news I took away from this, is an update
to Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions book. Sally states in NT
that legumes as well as grains should be soaked in a slightly acidic
medium. Jessica Prentice said that she never had beans turn out
right after soaking in slightly acidic water. Turns out, Sally is
making a correction to her NT book and recommends a slightly alkaline
soak for beans (this means a pinch of baking soda in your water)
instead of soaking with something acidic (whey, lemon, etc).
hope this helps…
I am going on that site to see if I can find more information, but it looks pretty hopeless. Carolyn, is there anyone you can speak to for clarification? Also, it lists lemon juice or apple cider vinegar or mild vinegar. Is plain old white vinegar considered mild? I am allergic to citrus and would not like to use apple cider vinegar since it will be cooked later and the beneficial bacteria would be killed so seems kind of expensive. I am not sure why one would choose the expensive option if plain old white vinegar would work. Or am I missing some aspect of the ACV that makes it more beneficial despite killing off the bacteria after the soaking is donel? I hope to hear from you.
A lot of people are waiting for a response on this.
Naseebah Khalil says
How about fava beans, chickpeas, and lima beans ?