How to make bokashi fermented beans

Beans are delicious and good for you in many different ways.  Fermented beans are even more delicious and even better for your health.  Fermenting beans has a variety of benefits and it’s pretty easy to do.

Benefits of fermenting beans

Beans are famous for their health giving properties and for causing flatulence.  Beans contain a particular combination of fiber and protein, which is perfect for fermenting in your digestive tract.  Beans contain also anti-nutrients, making them a little more difficult to digest.

The process of fermentation mitigates all these issues, making them easier to digest and less likely to cause offensive gas.  Bokashi bacteria are capable of consuming the carbohydrates in the beans and converting it into lactic acid while breaking down some of the proteins.  They also break down the anti-nutrients and make micro-nutrients more available to your body.

Fermentation also reduces cooking time, and the resultant energy cost.  Fermented beans don’t require refrigeration, so there is energy savings there as well.  In many communities, energy cost is an important consideration.

How to ferment beans

The process of fermenting beans is fairly simple.

  1. Rinse and clean the beans – Make sure to remove any stones or pebbles and discolored beans.
  2. Soak the beans – Soaking the beans in lightly salted water for 3-24 hours.  Soaking helps to improve the digestibility in the beans by activating enzymes within the bean that begin the breakdown process
  3. Cook the beans – Cooking the beans gets them ready for the bacteria.  They only need to simmer until they begin to soften.  The fermentation process will take care of the rest.
  4. Cool the beans – They don’t need to be cold.  Actually, you want the beans to be a little warm when you add the bacteria.  Cold beans won’t ferment very well.
  5. Inoculate – Add bokashi bacteria culture.
  6. Store in a cool, dark place – The container that they’re stored in should be closed, but not air tight.  The fermentation can generate gas, which needs to be released, so a loose fitting lid is just fine.
  7. Check the beans after a few days and see how they’re progressing.  They should smell a little ‘fermenty’  like apple cider or freshly made wine.  A white film on top is totally normal.
  8. Eat the beans – YUM!

Seasoning for fermented beans

You can add seasoning during cooking, during fermentation, or even after fermenting them.  I personally prefer not to add seasoning until after everything is done so that I can taste the personality of the bean.  For instance, if you ferment garbanzo beans, then you wouldn’t season it until the last step when you make some hummus out of it.

Another reason to delay seasoning is that some herbs can effect the process of fermentation.  Rosemary, for instance, is anti-microbial so it can sterilize your preciously curated bacteria culture and leave the ferment open to opportunistic organisms.

Fermented seasonings also taste different then fermented seasonings.

You’re welcome to season to your hearts content at any stage of the process, but my personal recommendation is to season closer to serving unless you’re going for a specific effect.

How to tell if your fermentation is “good”

Once your fermentation is rolling along, if you’re fairly new to fermenting, you may begin to wonder if it’s going “as planned”  The answer is, if it smells “bad”, then it probably is.  If it smells “fermented”, then everything is fine.  The more you ferment, the more you learn about fermenting.

Some other points about making bokashi beans

  • fermentation also works on seeds and nuts
  • fermenting foods makes them more paleo friendly
  • fermenting foods also increases levels of friendly bacteria in the atmosphere

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