I have recently gone back to soaking and cooking dried beans. They are inexpensive, easy to prepare and much yummier than their canned counterparts (not to mention our recycling bin is considerably lighter each week, as are my grocery bags…)

I love beans. I can’t think of any bean that I don’t love or at least like. A few weeks ago, streaking through Whole Foods  doing my as tiny as I can keep it “I can’t find it anywhere else” shop, I skidded to a halt in front of the dried beans looking for one of our favourite varieties, the fava. Not to be found, my eyes landed on a sweet, medium sized white bean going by the name Lupini…the description read something like “the finest bean around…highest protein content of any food ever…eating them is akin to an out of body experience…”. Naturally I filled a bag and looked forward to trying them.

Not thinking that this bean had any dark secrets I went about preparing them as I would any other. Soaked for around 8 hours in cold water and then cooked for approximately two (every bean is different- just how different I was about to discover).

What happened next is hard to describe. Wanting to test for doneness I scooped one out of the pot and passed it between my hands to cool it off a bit. Popped it into my mouth and chewed once…nothing to note except it was not cooked yet. On my second chew a strange taste began to surface and the hair on my arms stood up. On the third and fourth my fight or flight response kicked in and I was forced to projectile spit said bean into the sink, scraping the remaining bits off my tongue as though they were stinging bees. I can honestly say that in my entire life I have NEVER tasted anything so completely disgusting. I hazard to say that no human could make themselves swallow this poisonous little nugget of repulsion.

That said, of course I had to try it on another person to be sure. Along comes my husband. “Here try this” I said with the straightest face possible. In it went…out it came like lightening. Only his description was far better than mine. “It tastes like a gallbladder”. A gallbladder…..a gallbladder? He was dismayed I would use him in such a way and not nearly as amused as I was…but he was just as intrigued.

Determined to figure out what we were dealing with here, I hit the internet. Turns out Lupini beans are pretty much poisonous if not prepared properly- alkaloid poisoning? So I set out to make them edible. I found so many ways to do this on line I decided to wing it a bit. They were already soaked and boiled so I put them in a large pot, filled it with clean water, added several tablespoons of salt and refrigerated. I did this step every day for 14 days.

I found the following on Wikipedia worth sharing….read carefully and imagine doing this. Step three is particularly astonishing.

Safe preparation

Safe preparation involves the following steps:

  1. Soaking the bean overnight in four parts water to one part beans.
  2. Draining, boiling in the same ratio of water to beans with salt for two hours.
  3. Draining the beans and putting them in a bucket in an unused shower or laundry sink under a quickly running cold tap for seven to fourteen days until the bitter taste is gone from the beans and they are enjoyable to eat. WHAT?
  4. Boiling the beans with salt for two hours until the bean is no longer crunchy.
  5. Pickling the beans in salt and vinegar and water brine, and keeping them refrigerated if proper canning hygiene is not followed.

The Italian and Portuguese tradition is to soak the beans for a week or two in a pillowcase or fabric bag in a stream. Again WHAT?

The happy news is that it worked, and while Lupini beans are most certainly not the choice for the time challenged or less stubborn of us they are so delicious they are all I can think about right now. In fact as I type I have a mason jar full of them that I marinated beside me, and I can’t stop eating them.

The one lingering and curious thought I have, getting back to the glowing description of Lupini beans on the bin at Whole Foods, is that nowhere on that small card did it say that I would need to devote more time and attention to these beans than I would my children for the next two weeks or…that they could possibly kill me. Just sayin’…..

marinated lupiniMarinade

Place all ingredients (and beans) in a mason jar- fill with water and refrigerate (not sure how long it will keep but they won’t last long anyway they are so good- at least a few weeks)

pinch or two of Himalayan salt

splash of tamari

clove of garlic

one of my last hot peppers from the garden

some peppercorns

dash of apple cider vinegar


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