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“If Everyone Ate Beans Instead of Beef” is the title of this article in The Atlantic. I eat all kinds of meat, but small amounts and infrequently, because I’ve read a lot about the concepts explained in this article and about the health benefits of a plant-focused diet.

The environmental impact of food animal production is enormous. Read the article above, and others on waste run-off from pork production to be convinced to eat more beans for environmental reasons. Read the articles below on eating more plants such as beans to be convinced for personal health reasons.

Below the research links is a How-To on pressure cooking beans and preparing my family’s favorite and quite simple rice and beans dish.

Some Research on Why Beans

Beans and peas increase feeling of fullness more than meat

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161209100227.htm

Beans can lower blood sugar

https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/beans-may-help-control-blood-sugar-in-people-with-diabetes

High plant-fiber diet, improved psychiatric health and reduced colon cancer risk

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/847304_8

Adding something fermented to your beans (or fermenting the beans) increases nutrient absorption

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bacteria-render-beans-eas/

How To Cook Beans in a Pressure Cooker

*Note, soaking beans for long periods of time 12-24 hours can dissolve some of the oligosacchyrides, a carbohydrate that often gives people gas. However, this carbohydrate is one of several food sources of intestinal bacteria, so you may want to give NOT soaking a try in order to boost your good gut bacteria. Beano before you eat, cooking the beans with Kombu seaweed, and generally eating probiotic/fermented foods and less sugar are also ways to improve your ability to digest beans.*

The Demo Bean

Black beans have a 100% hit ratio in my family — meaning all five of us like them. They also happen to be the fastest to cook (7 minutes rocking vs. 35 minutes for garbanzo), so I timed the entire process this morning and will outline it here.

The Gear

I own a 6-quart stainless steel pressure cooker with no frills. It is either off, heating up, or rocking. I have no idea the PSI. Six quarts allows me to cook as much as 2 pounds of beans, which is approximately $3 and 15-24 servings, depending on whom you ask. (Teenage boy? Person with a desk job?)

The anatomy of a pressure cooker — important parts are the sealing ring, air vent / cover lock, pressure regulator and overpressure plug.

pressure cooker diagram

The Time Schedule

6:35 – 6:38 am

Rinse and inspect 2.5 cups of beans for rocks.

Put the beans in the pressure cooker and add fresh water to the fill line.

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Check the overpressure plug, vent pipe, and once lid is closed (with sealing ring in place), the air vent cover lock alignment.

The Overpressure Plug (image below) should lift and lower, not be sticky.

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The Vent Pipe should be clear, test by running water through.

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Close the lid and look at the alignment of the Air Vent Cover Lock. Steam will leak out and you will never get real pressure if the tab is blocked from rising by misalignment. (I.e. The need to get a screwdriver from your basement and tighten the handle again.)

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6:38 – 7:00 am

The pot is heating up, water is beginning to boil, pressure is increasing. Toward end of this time, the Air Vent Cover Lock and the Overpressure Plug pop up with a faint sucking sound.

7:00 – 7:07 am

The Pressure Regulator begins to rock and make a whistling/hissing noise. Set timer for 6 minutes.

7:07 – 7:10 am

Shut off the stove. DO NOT REMOVE THE PRESSURE REGULATOR unless you want to cover your ceiling in grey bean-water spots or possibly get burned. (Yes, I have done the ceiling decorating.)

Using oven mitts and two hands, put the pot in sink and run cold water over it for 10-20 seconds or until the Air Vent Cover Lock and Overpressure Plug audibly drop. The Air Vent Cover Lock will prevent you from turning the lid to open it until the pressure has dissipated.

Open the lid, strain the beans in a colander, transfer them to a lidded container and the fridge, and wash your pressure cooker and colander. Yes, you can do all this in 3 minutes.

 

When ready to use the cooked beans, I smash and chop fresh garlic, and saute it in olive oil (sometimes a little cumin or oregano too).

Add the beans when the garlic is soft. Toasted garlic doesn’t work as well flavorwise. Add a little water ~1/4 to 1/2 cup to help the beans heat up without sticking and the garlic flavor spread through the pan. You can use more water if you want to cook the beans longer or make the dish more soupy. A couple of pinches of salt…to taste. You’ll get more salt from the sauces if you like them. 

I serve the beans with freshly made rice, chopped fresh parsley or cilantro on top, and these two sauces to choose from.

(A big green salad on the side adds more vitamins.)

Sauces

When eating this as leftovers, I often cover the beans in melted cheese and skip the rice. Or I put cheese and a bunch of these beans on tortilla chips and pop it all in the microwave.

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For pressure cooking times for many other beans, scroll down to a chart on this site https://fastcooking.ca/pressure_cookers/cooking_times_pressure_cooker.php

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