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Beans - Reducing gas

  • j

As long as we are talking about beans, does anybody have any advice on how to reduce the inevitable gas? I have heard many theories, such as throwing away their soaking liquid, throwing away their cooking liquid (impossible in a soup!), cooking them with epazote, cooking them until very soft, using baking soda, and (admitting defeat) just using Beano.

Does anything really work?

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  1. Eating them more often helps. Back when I was in my late 30's, I started eating vegetarian after being raised on a pretty standard American diet. (During my childhood 30 - 40 years ago, that did not include the vast quantities of junk and processed foods now so prevalent). My gut simply wasn't accustomed to the starches and sugars in the legumes I was eating so much of, and it was very uncomfortable at first. After a month or so, I had adjusted to the change in diet and beans and lentils had virtually no gaseous side effects. I've long since given up vegetarianism, but legumes are still a common enough feature, and I've maintained my resistance to the dreaded Flatus. Would that my husband had the same resistance.

    3 Replies
    1. re: GG Mora

      Similar phenomenon, except for me it wasn't vegetarianism, but the discovery of Indian and Middle Eastern food. I also find that including yogurt in any legume-heavy meals greatly reduces any, um, side effects.

      1. re: --susan

        so does taking acidophilus pills

        1. re: --susan

          The solution for Indian food with no side effects is to make sure the spices are cooked properly. If they are toasted, fried, or simmered thoroughly digestion is not a problem (once you've adapted to any dietary fiber increase).

      2. Using epazote in the cooking is supposed to reduce gas. When I make beans I put a sprig of epazote in while they simmer and take it out at the end. Adds a nice backgorund bitterness to the pot too, an extra dimension to the taste.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kit marlowe

          I saw Epazote at spice house and it said freeze dried and I than saw it at Penzsys, but they did not say freeze dried. which is better or are they all the same?

          1. re: ydelle

            JMHO, regarding using epazote, I think it's the vilest-tasting thing on earth. Buy the smallest amount possible, just so you don't end up with something you hate. I like almost everything, but I have to say I really hate epazote. Take a triple dose of Beano instead, because the recommended dose doesn't work, at least not in our house.

        2. eating them more frequently decreases it significantly. i believe there are certain herbs/spices that aid in the digestion (savory, sage, and maybe tumeric). ive also heard olive oil helps. change the soaking liquid more than once and rinse the beans well. skim the scum off the top when boiling.

          but mostly, just eat them often.

          1. I've read that beans have a complex sugar (oligosaccharide) that causes the gas in digestive tracts that are not used to frequent bean consumption. If you soak dried beans overnight, yes, throw out the soaking water and start fresh. If you use the quick soak method of bringing dried beans to a boil, letting sit for an hour or so, then, yes, throw out that cooking water and start fresh. If you use canned beans, rinse them well. That should help some.

            I've also used a chunk of kombu seaweed in the last cooking but not sure how much that truly helped. Then, as posters have said, just let the microorganisms in your intestinal tract get gradually used to increased bean consumption.

            Also, I've noticed no problem with lentils or chickpeas, but that could be a totally separate post on if there's a difference between legumes, beans, dals.

            Beans, beans, the magical fruit
            The more you eat, the more you toot
            The more you toot, the better you feel
            So let's eat beans at every meal!

            And a variation:

            Beans, beans, they're good for your heart
            The more you eat, the more you (fill in the blank)

            3 Replies
            1. re: nemo

              My husbands' grandmas beans song went like this:

              Beans, beans, the Musical fruit
              The more you eat, the more you toot
              The more you toot, the better you feel
              So let's eat beans at every meal!

              Btw - I accept defeat and use beano. Any thing that has a lot of fiber produces gas, for me anyway.

              1. re: danhole

                dani and nemo, a while back i posted that ditty on another, similar thread. i'm glad yours' survived. ;-)

                try adding lemon juice to beans just before serving! (ha, my "on-topic")

                1. re: danhole

                  NJ had a slightly different version rhyming heart w the f-variation instead of fruity-tooty comparison.

              2. Warning: if you cook beans in your Schnelltopf (pressure cooker), which is the best,
                easiest and fastest way to cook beans, no soaking required, do NOT put baking soda in the pot w/ the beans. It made a big mess and went all over the wall.

                1 Reply
                1. re: RevImmigrant

                  Yikes- lesson learned. I always add it at the very end- could you wait until the pressure is off, right before you serve?

                2. Add a little vinegar to the water. FWIW black (turtle) beans and garbanzos are those with the lowest side effects...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: lgss

                    oooh, vinegar with black beans is so good.

                    1. re: lgss

                      Acid inhibits softening, though (hence the addition of baking soda). Acidic ingredients should be added after the beans are at least partially cooked.

                      1. re: lgss

                        Black eyed peas and garbanzos both have nuclear side effects, by the way.

                      2. Many Indian cooks will add ginger, turmeric, or asafoedita (sp?) to the pot with dried legumes as an anti-gas ingredient. But as has been repeatedly noted above, it's just a question of what your digestive system is used to. Daily beans = no gas.

                        1. There used to be a bbq joint in Florida that served a platter (meat/beans/cole slaw) and the slaw had a bit of fresh pineapple in it. The chef told me that it was an old family recipe that, besides tasting good, the pineapple was supposed to reduce/eliminate flatulence. There are some Googled references that mention this "property".

                          1. I can't remember where I saw it, maybe Alton Brown, but I did hear that the more you chew the beans, really masticate them, it helps break down the part that gives you gas. I also agree the more you eat them the easier your body processes them.

                            1. this interesting article also mentions fennel and cumin (as well as epazote and other aids)


                              1 Reply
                              1. re: alkapal

                                Fennel has general anti-flatulence properties - supposed to work regardless of the source (i.e., beans or whatever). I wasn't familiar with the cumin, though - thanks!

                                Lots of good info in this thread, much appreciated.

                              2. on this veggie cooking show this morning on pbs, zonya said the kombu bits in the canned beans (white beans?) she was using for a soup helped to combat gas. didn't look like hardly anything, but that tv shot can be deceptive.

                                1. I always use baking soda and ginger in them when I soak them overnite. Then throw the soak water out. My dad would always ask me if I got the crackers out of them!!

                                  1. My grandmother made a delicious soup with great northern beans and generous amounts of sage. There were never any complaints.

                                    I agree that eating good beans somewhat frequently and only adding salt or sodium-containing ingredients after the beans are fully cooked and tender is important.

                                    Epazote is a nice addition as well.

                                    1. I guess just cooking them properly . Wife makes a pinto bean , sage salt , and salt pork dish that is fantastic . She says her great grandmother used to make it . Have never really had any kind of gas problem related to beans , anyway . It think its ( groan ) overblown .

                                      1. Another method of reducing the gas from beans is to drop a whole peeled potato into the beans at the beginning of cooking. Leave it in until just before serving. DON'T EAT THE POTATO. I do this whenever I cook beans and everyone who has eaten beans I've cooked are surprised that they don't get gas, or the few people who do develop gas report that it is much less of a problem. It really does work.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: kayleeusa

                                          The peeled potato is what I have always used myself, but I was under the impression it was a southern thing. It's always worked in my family, it's been what we've done since my great grandmother. Another perk to the potato is that the starch seems to help thicken up the "soup" the beans are cooking in too. I'll even add 2 of them in a larger pot to keep the starch up. But I do have to stress the point: DO NOT EAT THE POTATO!!!
                                          I learned my lesson about this as a child when I ate the potato after a dare from my older brother. I was miserable, just take my word for it. lol

                                          1. re: Cloudjuice

                                            the implication here is that the potato absorbs the gas-creating compounds, so that eating it gives one all the gassiness of the whole pot of beans?

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              Gimme that tater loaded with flatulating oligosaccharides. I'm doing a party for kids where the "pull my finger" joke gets a lot of mileage.

                                              As to OP: folks, Beano works , because it quite simply supplies a mycologically fermented digestive enzyme that our digestive systems do not produce. Sad, but true.... our DNA simply does not code for the enzyme that Beano supplies. As our planet moves more inevitably towards a bean/grain diet, the developers at Beano will receive the Nobel prize in terms of reduction of methane greenhouse gas production.

                                              In the interim vis a vis the Nobel... bring on the beans.... and pull my finger.

                                              1. re: FoodFuser

                                                Ever try using a bean ladder. its a wooden spoon with the handle split and rungs added. put the bean ladder in the pot and the little flatvlences will climb out. Does a better job than the old wife's tail of using spuds. on the serious side just cook them till are good and soft. It is the hard bean that gives you gas. Another little known fact is that a raw bean is posisonous just like green potato peels.

                                            2. re: Cloudjuice

                                              Very interesting! So does it matter whether yous use a waxy potato versus a Russet?

                                            3. re: kayleeusa

                                              Some day you should have somebody eat the potato and see what happens. I'm curious.

                                            4. I use the baking soda in the soaking water and also do what my mom used to do. She put ginger in the soaking water also.
                                              A teaspoon of each per 1lb of beans. This to me does make the beans a bit more gentle.