Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fart Hinder - What to do with Beans!

Photo Courtesy: http://www.thelocal.se
Ah how many times have I had guests over from the United States and elsewhere wanting a souvenir photo of an often common road sight along Swedish roadways, a  sign which is called a Fart Hinder. The illustrated picture above the word gives a clue as to what this actually is. It's basically a speed bump to hinder a motorist from speeding and they are obsessed with these over here. The word "Fart" is no used in the same sense as English. It simply means speed and is even related to the German word Fahren which under certain specific syntax settings which also display this form "fart". What can I say, they are basically both cousins, but don't tell the Swedes. I know I know - Tysk Tysk Tysk!  The reason I'm posting this is that the word "Fart" itself means something entirely different in English than from the Swedish/Germanic meaning. It's also something I promised to address from another post in here - Scrub Jays, Seed Hoarders, Plant Propagators & All Round Forest Promoters . This particular   post subject will deal with not only the culinary necessity of pre-soaking beans and allowing them to sprout, but also the actual scientific reasons and benefits for doing so. This subject has been talked & written about so much and everyone seems to have war stories about it. The subject makes some folks squirm. Most people today are mentally lazy when it comes to the idea of preparing food from scratch. They have been indoctrinated ever since the end of World War II where Chef Boyardee and other large industrial giants  like Swanson Frozen Dinners who helped pioneer the way for military soldier rations to be further promoted in the post war era by Corporations who didn't have to shut down operations because of losing a main customer base which were  soldiers. Now they could pimp their wares through advertising in the 50s & 60s selling the idea of convenience to a now hustled consumer public. Eventually people bought into the idea and put their complete trust in Industrial foods. Now we have News Reports today of large scale scandals like the present Horse meat fiasco from a Swedish Food giant Findus Group because people don't pay attention as to who or what they put their trust into now days. That's how the "Green Revolution" got started. Chemical Corporation giants like Dow, DuPont, Monsanto etc whose chemicals made great Bombs for war, now found they didn't have to shut down because the war was over, but that they could stay in business because these same chemicals could cause growth reactions in plants and they could P.R. their way through advertisements to an ignorant Public on how they were going to green deserts and save the world. One thing is for sure, they never left the killing business. It's just much slower now. 

So basically people forgot how to cook from scratch. Beans come in a can, not your backyard garden. I remember certain 1960s comedy series characters like Lisa Douglas and Thurston Howell III who portrayed out of touch with reality rich people, who thought that food only came from cans. When the Gilligan's Island Professor explained to the Howell's that they had to cultivate and till soil to grow food, Thurston Howell was completely shocked and shouted, "How Vulgar! Yet today, many people really are that dense when it comes to cooking. They don't have even an elementary basic concept of the benefits of cooking from scratch. If for nothing else tastes and flavours. Beans are not that tough to prepare from scratch. I mean we are simply talking a good soaking over night and then sprouting. A big part of the problem with beans as a food in industrial countries is that it is considered a dirt poor peoples food. Indeed, during the depression years and war rationing times, such foods were a staples and still are in developing nations. But they shouldn't be restricted as a poor man's food in such a way. One of the problems is that beans in a can are known for giving the flatulence effect. The question is however, Why ?
credit: Lead Action News

These foods are known to be high 
in Phytates or Phytic Acids
Prior to this post here, I touched on the subject of Seed/Nut soaking-sprouting-fermentation found out in the wild and compared it with the way we humans should be treating our own foods when it comes to seeds, peas, grains, rice etc. Very few people cook from scratch, they would rather buy processed foods. But for those who do, especially when it comes to making beans from scratch, there are important mechanical procedures as well as the reasons for the science behind it. Let us just take the Beans as an example. Beans have highly complex proteins and sugars for which we and most all animals lack an important enzyme for properly dealing with them in the digestion department. It's impossible to eat them raw as in dried, so we have to pre-soak them, makes sense. But when our hardworking gut bacteria encounter these in the digestive tract, they have to work extra hard to disassemble these molecules and of course the residual side effect is the giving off of those noxious fumes in the process. And yet, if you soak the beans overnight and rinse the water and apply new water, you will notice bubbles coming to the surface. After that, drain the water from the beans and allow them to sprout in a lightly seal container that will keep the humidity at around 100% without allowing any drying. They will eventually sprout and slightly ferment, which is what they should do. At this point when the beans have tiny taproot stems, they are ready to cook. Do this and you will truly have grasped the technique of "FartHinder" cooking. But here's what's going on scientifically with the process.

The after-effects from eating the baked beans is actually not the Bean's fault. The true 'Dirty Jobs' is done by the bacteria in your colon. There are a family of sugars called oligosaccharides and/or the Phytates (Phytic acids) which bind up phosphorus in the grain seeds, beans, peas and so forth and provide nourishment to a young plant while it is attempting to establish itself to provide for it's own. Non Ruminant animals like Cows etc can handle it better, although their digestion works harder converting this with their anti-oligosaccharide enzymes. The are mostly herbivores and need more of a grasses and other herbs diet as opposed to a richer grain diet given to them at feedlots. This is why there is a controversy with the excess methane hurting climate debates. Anyway, we don't have this enzyme and neither do other animals which are non-ruminants. Hence, these complex sugars pass through our stomachs and small intestines into the large intestine basically unmolested and with all their nutrition still locked up. It's this soaking, sprouting and fermenting of beans peas and grains which release and make the nutrients available to us. That's why in Health Food stores you will often see certain breads made from sprouted grains. So once inside your your large intestine, the numerous strains of bacteria chow down, divide generation after generation and in the process make millions of little bacteria micro-bubble farts which accumulate and turn into big people farts. 

Of course for those who still are too lazy to cook beans from scratch and prefer the old fashioned store bought canned variety, there is still always the Ol' standby "Beano" to the rescue. Here is a real quick note on the soaking, sprouting and fermenting processes which are beneficial and more nutritional before actually cooking with beans.  
Whole Grains & Beans - Soaking and Sprouting
On another interesting note along these same lines, there is the process of beer making and the science of making malt. Coors is the only brewery that I know of that makes their own malt grown by contracted high mountain states farmers with their own genetically breed or strain of Barley. I once worked for Coors Biotech in Golden Colorado as a tester and representative with some of their natural solvent product lines. Many people don't really realize just how diversified that company truly is. We took the brewery tour once and inside, one of the first stops was the rooms where the malting process takes place. 
Coors Brewery Tour
Before the yeast can work, the complex sugars must be converted to simpler starches and sugars. Ripe Barley is full of raw natural starches and sugars just like any grain or bean. But first they must be unlocked. Coors uses a natural malting process where Barley goes through a long soaking process and then put in a room where it is places in a thin layer on a floor in a temperature & humidity controlled room where partial sprouting takes place. Thereafter it is taken to a kiln to roast. The amount of time roasting depends on what colour of beer you wish to make, sort of like the roasting length for coffee beans. Then they are brushed to knock off the taproot germ stem which believe it or not gets used or sold for something else. (I really can't remember for the moment what) But it is interesting how the same process that is necessary for making good beer also benefits us nutritionally if we only take the time. Below is a great animation of the necessary steps in the soaking, sprouting and fermentation processes for malting.

"Dry barley grains are first cleaned,then soaked and transferred into a room where temperature and humidity are controlled. They will stay there for several days. When in optimum conditions, sprouting will occur and release enzymes that will convert the grain into malt. From there the grains are brushed to knock off the sprouted stems and then kiln dried and then to the roaster for differing lengths of time for the desired colour of the malt which gives certain beers and ales their colours."

Wikipedia: Western ScrubJay & Acorn
This all takes me back to those Western Scrub Jays and all those other western birds. I know they have cast iron guts and rapid digestion, but still, one has to wonder if allowing the seeds to mature a bit by being hydrated, sprouting and fermenting some of those starches, sugars and possibly lessening of those tannins which give that bitter taste for which we as humans need to leach out before use. Could it really be possible and even necessary even for birds before eating ? I know studies have been done indicating that Many Jays have Oak species preferences for which they use in their hidden caches, but I'm still terrible curious about any of the transformation changes made during germination and any palatable taste and higher food nutritional value from the germination and fermentation processes in the soil. Ultimately I don't know, but there are a few other interesting studies on how and why Scrub Jays choose what the want for food stores. Below are a few references on collection behavior or both Jays and Squirrels based on tannin content which may hold value as to which variety has better storage ability and resistance to both insect & fungal damage. Beyong that they say nothing about benefits of hydrated seed, sprouting or food value benefits as a result. The links are interesting, but may prove boring to many. Nevertheless, here they are:
Not only size matters: Acorn selection by the European jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Can Acorn Tannin Predict Scrub-Jay Caching Behavior?
Behavioral adaptation of Pallas's squirrels to germination schedule and tannins in acorns

Remember this 'Olive Bath Soap' commercial with the Japanese boys in the Spa ?
Further Reading References:
Coors Brewery - The Largest Brewery in The United States

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