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September 28, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Discover Black beans

  • The Black bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, also known as turtle beans, black  turtle beansblack Spanish beansTampico beans, and Venezuelan beans.
  • Black beans are used dried; originally the drying of beans was a way to ensure a winter food supply, as  beans can be successfully dried and stored for up to a year, with hardly any fear of deterioration or damage.
  • Black beans are small (about the size of a pea), oval and jet black. They  have cream colored flesh, a mild, sweet, earthy taste, and a soft texture. 
  • It is often called simply the black bean (frijol negro in Spanish, feijão preto in Portuguese, “caraotas negras” in Venezuela), although this can cause confusion with other black beans.

Know your Black bean – Cuisine

  • The small, shiny black turtle bean is especially popular in Latin American cuisine, though it can also be found in Cajun and Creole cuisines of South Louisiana. 
  • Black beans have a smooth, soft texture and an earthy, mushroom-like flavour. 
  • They hold their shape well when cooked, so they’re often used in salads. 
  • They also go well with corn. 
  • Black beans are popular in Mexican, Brazilian, and Cuban cuisine
  • Soak for a minimum of four hours.
  • This is not the same bean as that used in oriental cuisines. Fermented black  beans etc. are made with black soyabeans.
  • The black turtle bean has a dense, meaty texture and flavour reminiscent of mushrooms, which makes it popular in vegetarian dishes such as the Mexican-American black bean burrito
  • It is a very popular bean in various regions of Brazil, and is used in the national dish, feijoada
  • It is also a principal ingredient of Platillo Moros y Cristianos in Cuba, is a must-have in the typical gallo pinto of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, is a fundamental part of Pabellón Criollo in Venezuela, and is served in almost all of Latin America as well as many Hispanic enclaves in the United States. 
  • The black turtle bean is also very popular for making into soups, which are often eaten with Cuban crackers.

Know your Black bean – Nutrients

  • Black turtle beans have recently been reported to be an extremely good source of nutritional antioxidants.
  • All legumes are high in protein, and black beans are no exception. 
  • Dried beans are important sources of protein in vegetarian diets, and in areas where animal protein is scarce or expensive. 
  • However, this protein is incomplete (does  not contain all 9 amino acids), so grains (which provide the missing amino acids) must also be a significant part of the strictly vegetarian diet. Or, small amounts of dairy products, meat, poultry or fish (which contain complete  proteins) must be part of the diet. 
  • In the areas where common beans originated (Central America and southern Mexico) corn supplied the missing amino acids, and  squash was an additional source of vitamins.
  • Black beans, as all dried beans, are also good sources of starches, fibre, B vitamins, iron, zinc, phosphorus, complex carbohydrates and calcium. 
  • About half  of the calcium is lost during cooking. High percentages of the other nutrients remain however, even after cooking.

Know your Black bean – Varieties

  • Black turtle bean varieties include:
    • Black Magic
    • Blackhawk
    • Delgado
    • Domino
    • Nighthawk
    • Valentine


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