Beans: soaking and combating gas

I posted earlier on this subject, and today’s Sunday Times food question column written by Chris Tan provides some useful further information.

As I mentioned before, one way to get rid of gas caused by beans is to blanch the beans, followed by several hours of soaking with frequent changes of water. However, this may also cause a diminishing of flavour.

Chris Tan suggests that traditional methods of cooking beans may provide a solution to the gas problem:

Indian legume dishes almost always include a pinch of asafoetida, a garlicky-tasting powdered dried plant sap with a reputation for reducing flatulence. Mexican bean dishes call on epazote, a green herb, for the same reason. In Japan, cooks simmer beans with a piece of kombu or dried kelp, to help the beans soften and to nullify their gases. Of somewhat lesser fame are spices that combat gases, including cumin, fennel, caraway and ginger.

Only problem is, one might not want the taste of these herbs and spices in a sweet azuki bean dish!

But don’t worry, because gas from beans might not be a problem for everyone. Chris Tan goes on to say,

Anecdotal evidence says that people who eat beans frequently suffer less gas than occasional bean-eaters, perhaps because our intestinal microbe populations evolve to accommodate the situation.

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