SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Fresh cranberry beans are on the market now and it won’t be long before we start seeing some black-eyed peas and maybe even some crowder peas at specialty stores like Berkeley Bowl.

I recently ran into a friend and we started talking about de-gassing the beans. He said, “Oh yeah, when you put in the baking soda.” I said ‘no, no, no.’ That doesn’t do anything. When you add baking soda, an alkaline, to the beans, which have their own natural acidity, gas bubbles come off. That’s a carbon dioxide emission.

That has nothing to do with the problems beans cause in our stomachs. The reason we get gas from beans is because we don’t have an enzyme the bean contains. When it passes through the stomach and gets to the small intestine it starts to ferment and that’s what gives us trouble.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a Western Regional Research Center stationed in Albany and they’ve developed a technique to de-gas beans.

Boil a large pot of water, drop dry beans into the pot and let them boil for two minutes. Take it off the heat, cover it and let it sit for one hour. Drain the beans and discard the liquid. Add fresh water and continue cooking until the beans are tender. This process gets rid of 85 percent of the complex carbohydrates that we simply cannot digest. The process also doesn’t decrease the nutritional value of the beans. By the way, for the cranberry beans you only need to let them soak for half an hour because they soften up so quickly.

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