Black beans are a small legume popular in many Latin American and Mexican recipes. The black outer skin hides white flesh. They’re tougher than other types of beans, but hold up well with the longer required cooking time. A mild and meaty taste pairs well with strong flavorings such as onions and tomatoes. Sopa de Frijoles Negros (black bean soup) is a wonderful example from Cuba, and feijoada (meat stew with beans) is Brazil’s national dish.
They are also known as turtle beans, caviar criollo (Venezuelan beans), tampico beans, Mexican black beans, and Spanish beans. They are not the same as “fermented black beans,” which are an Oriental favorite.
Dried beans are the preferred choice. Canned product will typically have salt and other additives, but are convenient for last-minute meals.
Beans can be stored for at least twelve months if not longer. After cooking, refrigerate for up to three days. Prepared beans will freeze well for about six months.
- Always sort and rinse thoroughly. Soak overnight in the refrigerator.
- Replacing the soaking and simmering water often will remove some of the complex sugars, which are the culprits behind digestive gas. Drain and rinse canned beans as well.
- Add black beans to a bowl of chili just before serving.
- If including acidic foods such as tomatoes, cook them separately and add in the last half hour before serving. Acids toughen the bean flesh and lengthen the cooking time.
- Quick-soaking (two minutes on boil; two hours to rest) should not be used if beans are needed whole. This method causes the pods to break apart.
- Cold soaking and simmering – as opposed to boiling - will help retain nutrients.
- One cup dried is equal to three cups cooked. For each cup of dried, add about four cups of water.
- Pinto or kidney beans.